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A collection of Sapphic fragments


"Though
I'm not the spiteful sort at all
but have the spirit of a little child.

And now
Love, the limb-loosener stirs me:
Irresistable, bitter-sweet imp.
But, Atthis, you've come to abhor me
(Even the hint of me)
And flit to Andromeda

Andromeda!
She's fired your fancy?
That clod of a woman
who hasn't even the knack
of pulling her skirts up
over her ankles

Go then
You are nothing to me!

Who wants
Love:
That weaver of yarns
Who gives presents of pain?

Though they say
Love can make a poet our of a boor

It can open the eyes
With the larkspur's stunning clarity

Like Jason's mantle
Mixed and parti-coloured

But even then
I loved you, Atthis, long ago
my girlhood still in flowers... and you
A small ungainly girl, I thought

I saw Love
Come down from heaven
And fling off his purple cloak

But I won't be stung, so
Keep your honey bees
And your honey

Then Aphrodite said
All was not lost
When she forgot you
And fled to Andromeda.
O Sappho, of little faith!
I too have a right to scold you;
For you should have remembered
That wherever I was I loved you
And could have come from afar as before;
From Paphos, Panormus or Cyprus--
Where I am Queen and a mighty
Force for mankind, and for you:
A power like the blaze of the sun
Who lights up the world with his glory.
So remember that even in Acheron
I the love-enraveler
Can unravel the gloom....
Yes, I can be with you.

I am glad to say
Andromeda has been prettily paid back"


- Sappho, fragments 108-120 from "The Love Song of Sappho"; by trans. Paul Roche.

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