Treasure Island

Sappho

(c. 600 BCE / Greece)

Anactoria


Yes, Atthis, you may be sure

Even in Sardis
Anactoria will think often of us

of the life we shared here, when you seemed
the Goddess incarnate
to her and your singing pleased her best

Now among Lydian women she in her
turn stands first as the red-
fingered moon rising at sunset takes

precedence over stars around her;
her light spreads equally
on the salt sea and fields thick with bloom

Delicious dew pours down to freshen
roses, delicate thyme
and blossoming sweet clover; she wanders

aimlessly, thinking of gentle
Atthis, her heart hanging
heavy with longing in her little breast

She shouts aloud, Come! we know it;
thousand-eared night repeats that cry
across the sea shining between us

Sappho
tr. Barnard

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • M C (8/22/2012 10:13:00 AM)

    I love Barnard's translations of Sappho. I think they are among the most lucid, deeply affecting poems in the English language. (Report) Reply

  • Adam Richards (6/14/2010 7:06:00 PM)

    This is a beautiful poem, but please be aware that it is not an accurate translation. Anactoria is never mentioned in the existing fragment, and the first line (among other things) is a fabrication. The translator has taken the liberty of filling in the missing parts, which is not a problem as long as you don't need to cite it. (Report) Reply

  • Cyrina Moon (7/28/2007 11:43:00 PM)

    One of the most hauntingly beautiful poems ever written. O Sappho. Your words rush over me as the speed of time. (Report) Reply

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