Friday, September 25, 2009

Love Shakes My Heart

Ancient Greek poetry from Sappho this week. She reminds me a bit of Emily Dickinson. Sappho mentions Greek gods and goddesses often in her poetry, so when she refers to "Dawn," she imagines someone like this:

From Sappho: A New Translation, by Mary Barnard, 1958

Standing by my bed

In gold sandals
Dawn that very
moment awoke me


It's no use

Mother dear, I
can't finish my
You may
blame Aphrodite

soft as she is

she has almost
killed me with
love for that boy


Without warning

As a whirlwind
swoops on an oak
Love shakes my heart


It is clear now:

Neither honey nor
the honey bee is
to be mine again


With his venom

and bittersweet

that loosener
of limbs, Love

strikes me down


We know this much

Death is an evil;
we have the gods'
words for it; they too
would die if death
were a good thing

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