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Today, thousands of years after her birth, in lands remote from her native island of Lesbos and in languages that did not exist when she wrote her poetry in Aeolic Greek, Sappho remains an important name among lovers of poetry and poets alike, . Celebrated throughout antiquity as the supreme Greek poet of love and of the personal lyric, noted especially for her limpid fusi Today, thousands of years after her birth, in lands remote from her native island of Lesbos and in languages that did not exist when she wrote her poetry in Aeolic Greek, Sappho remains an important name among lovers of poetry and poets alike, . Celebrated throughout antiquity as the supreme Greek poet of love and of the personal lyric, noted especially for her limpid fusion of formal poise, lucid insight, and incandescent passion, today her poetry is also prized for its uniquely vivid participation in a living paganism. Collected in an edition of nine scrolls by scholars in the second century BC, Sappho's poetry largely disappeared when the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople in 1204. All that remained was one poem and a handful of quoted passages . A century ago papyrus fragments recovered in Egypt added a half dozen important texts to Sappho's surviving works. In 2004 a new complete poem was deciphered and published. By far the most significant discovery in a hundred years, it offers a new and tellingly different example of Sappho's poetic art and reveals another side of the poet, thinking about aging and about the transmission of culture from one generation to the next. Jim Powell's translations represent a unique combination of poetic mastery in English verse and a deep schlolarly engagement with Sappho's ancient Greek. They are incomparably faithful to the literal sense of the Greek poems and, simultaneously, to their forms, preserving the original meters and stanzas while exactly replicating the dramatic action of their sequences of disclosure and the passionate momentum of their sentences. Powell's translations have often been anthologized and selected for use in textbooks, winning recognition among discerning readers as by far the best versions in English.


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Today, thousands of years after her birth, in lands remote from her native island of Lesbos and in languages that did not exist when she wrote her poetry in Aeolic Greek, Sappho remains an important name among lovers of poetry and poets alike, . Celebrated throughout antiquity as the supreme Greek poet of love and of the personal lyric, noted especially for her limpid fusi Today, thousands of years after her birth, in lands remote from her native island of Lesbos and in languages that did not exist when she wrote her poetry in Aeolic Greek, Sappho remains an important name among lovers of poetry and poets alike, . Celebrated throughout antiquity as the supreme Greek poet of love and of the personal lyric, noted especially for her limpid fusion of formal poise, lucid insight, and incandescent passion, today her poetry is also prized for its uniquely vivid participation in a living paganism. Collected in an edition of nine scrolls by scholars in the second century BC, Sappho's poetry largely disappeared when the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople in 1204. All that remained was one poem and a handful of quoted passages . A century ago papyrus fragments recovered in Egypt added a half dozen important texts to Sappho's surviving works. In 2004 a new complete poem was deciphered and published. By far the most significant discovery in a hundred years, it offers a new and tellingly different example of Sappho's poetic art and reveals another side of the poet, thinking about aging and about the transmission of culture from one generation to the next. Jim Powell's translations represent a unique combination of poetic mastery in English verse and a deep schlolarly engagement with Sappho's ancient Greek. They are incomparably faithful to the literal sense of the Greek poems and, simultaneously, to their forms, preserving the original meters and stanzas while exactly replicating the dramatic action of their sequences of disclosure and the passionate momentum of their sentences. Powell's translations have often been anthologized and selected for use in textbooks, winning recognition among discerning readers as by far the best versions in English.

30 review for The Poetry of Sappho

  1. 4 out of 5

    aetan

    “May you sleep upon your gentle companion’s breast.” is the same as “get u a gf..... nap on her tiddy”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Imane إيمان بلال

    As the stars surrounding the lovely moon will hide away the splendor of their appearance when in all her fullness she shines the brightest over the whole earth [LP 34]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Come to me now once again and release me from grueling anxiety. All that my heart longs for, fulfill. And be yourself my ally in love’s battle. Some say an army of horsemen, some of footsoldiers, some of ships, is the fairest thing on the black earth, but I say it is what one loves.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Issa

    Sappho is still read, even though she lived in the seventh century, before Christ. When I started reading this book, I had in mind that I'll read poems that have detailed descriptions of lesbian and sexual intercourses, but it was quite the contrary. Sappho's poetry is full of rapture. She uses mythological allusions as a means to depict her emotional lust for the human body, and the feminine body specifically. Many times, she relates to Aphrodite and Eros, and she invents passionate conversatio Sappho is still read, even though she lived in the seventh century, before Christ. When I started reading this book, I had in mind that I'll read poems that have detailed descriptions of lesbian and sexual intercourses, but it was quite the contrary. Sappho's poetry is full of rapture. She uses mythological allusions as a means to depict her emotional lust for the human body, and the feminine body specifically. Many times, she relates to Aphrodite and Eros, and she invents passionate conversations between her and them. Almost all of the book contains fragments or poetic epigrams, though there are a few narrative poems. I liked many of what she wrote here, for example : "Like a child to her mother, I have flown to you." "Earth with her many garlands is embroidered." "Fool, don't try to bend a stubborn heart." "You have forgotten me or else you love another more than me." "Far more melodious than the lyre, more golden than the gold." And there is a quotation that shows her tendency to her same sex: "Toward you beautiful girls, my thoughts never alter."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julian BLOWER

    a translation neither poetic nor literal, due to what seem like rather lazy word choices which slipped in while the translator was imitating the meter. i look at Ode To Aphrodite and see only one line which i could not improve. —let's just say that constant enjambment is counterproductive in this effort, because the one guaranteed effect of enjambment is the muting of the meter. there's no problem if the verse is put to song, but we've only got the verse, so tighten up that rhythm. a translation neither poetic nor literal, due to what seem like rather lazy word choices which slipped in while the translator was imitating the meter. i look at Ode To Aphrodite and see only one line which i could not improve. —let's just say that constant enjambment is counterproductive in this effort, because the one guaranteed effect of enjambment is the muting of the meter. there's no problem if the verse is put to song, but we've only got the verse, so tighten up that rhythm.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    It's gay poetry bro. Gay ancient poetry. How could you not like?? It's gay poetry bro. Gay ancient poetry. How could you not like??

  7. 5 out of 5

    Babe of Darkness

    I have immersed myself in Love, Romance and Passion so I decided to read Sappho. The words that resonated with me were deathless face, raving heart and raven tresses....

  8. 4 out of 5

    TK421

    Some of my favorite fragments and/or sections of her poetry include: "Some say thronging cavalry, some say foot soldiers, others call a fleet the most beautiful of sights the dark earth offers, but I say it's whatever you love best." "don't you remember...we, too, did such things in our youth." "May storm winds and worries bear off the man who lectures my anguish." "As a sweet apple reddens on a high branch at the tip of the topmost bough: The apple pickers missed it. No, they didn't miss it: They c Some of my favorite fragments and/or sections of her poetry include: "Some say thronging cavalry, some say foot soldiers, others call a fleet the most beautiful of sights the dark earth offers, but I say it's whatever you love best." "don't you remember...we, too, did such things in our youth." "May storm winds and worries bear off the man who lectures my anguish." "As a sweet apple reddens on a high branch at the tip of the topmost bough: The apple pickers missed it. No, they didn't miss it: They couldn't reach it." "Lift high the roofbeam..." (Updike, anyone?)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    i love sappho im so sad that more of her work didn't survive i love sappho im so sad that more of her work didn't survive

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ani

    5/5 I am unable to put my love for this book into words. Sappho's verses are lyrical, dynamic, musical and whimsical. Wow, just wow. The best thing I've read in 2020, without a doubt. 5/5 I am unable to put my love for this book into words. Sappho's verses are lyrical, dynamic, musical and whimsical. Wow, just wow. The best thing I've read in 2020, without a doubt.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Crystal S.

    While I enjoyed reading this collection of translations I did question the format and framework. With any translation, it is customary to have the translator share their goals in their undertaking. Why should I read THIS translation? What should I keep in mind. Without that in place at the beginning of the book, I questioned whether Jim Powell even translated this work or just compiled a nice reading of other translations he edited to read smoothly. That’s the thing though, these are still delig While I enjoyed reading this collection of translations I did question the format and framework. With any translation, it is customary to have the translator share their goals in their undertaking. Why should I read THIS translation? What should I keep in mind. Without that in place at the beginning of the book, I questioned whether Jim Powell even translated this work or just compiled a nice reading of other translations he edited to read smoothly. That’s the thing though, these are still delightful to read. Some translations are so true to the fragments that exist that it can be difficult to flow through the lines or comprehend them. The translations in this book are quite fun and easy to read. Powell also lines multiple passages one after the other on the pages which makes for a short book! It’s quite funny reading Sappho in this way but it makes it feel more leisurely. I think that in the fun and ease we lose some of the gravitas of how amazing Sappho’s work is. How sad it is that we only have fragments, but I hope any reader of Sappho knows that they need to read multiple translations and even multiple copies of the original text to properly study her work. With that in mind, I’m happy to have read this translation and encourage YOU to read more. :)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    Lacks sufficient information on how this translation came to be (no introduction), poems are quite fragmented. Still, Sappho is a joy to read. “But stand before me, if you are my friend, and spread the grace that is in your eyes.” LP 138 "And it's easy to make this understood by everyone, for she who surpassed all human kind in beauty, Helen, abandoning her husband - that best of men - went sailing off to the shores of Troy and never spent a thought on her child or loving parents: when goddess seduced Lacks sufficient information on how this translation came to be (no introduction), poems are quite fragmented. Still, Sappho is a joy to read. “But stand before me, if you are my friend, and spread the grace that is in your eyes.” LP 138 "And it's easy to make this understood by everyone, for she who surpassed all human kind in beauty, Helen, abandoning her husband - that best of men - went sailing off to the shores of Troy and never spent a thought on her child or loving parents: when goddess seduced her wits and left her to wander," LP 16

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I don't read Sappho's Greek, and so I cannot judge the translation, but this is a handy pbk compendium, brought up to date with inclusion of recently discovered poems/fragments. The notes are invariably helpful, with textual sources, a series of identifying notes, a brief "biography," and discussion of yje poetics. Jim Powell enjoys a good reputation as a poet and knows whereof he writes. I'd say this is a first-rate introduction to a world famous poet, one who has a broad range of appeal. I don't read Sappho's Greek, and so I cannot judge the translation, but this is a handy pbk compendium, brought up to date with inclusion of recently discovered poems/fragments. The notes are invariably helpful, with textual sources, a series of identifying notes, a brief "biography," and discussion of yje poetics. Jim Powell enjoys a good reputation as a poet and knows whereof he writes. I'd say this is a first-rate introduction to a world famous poet, one who has a broad range of appeal.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stafie

    Some of my favourite passages: "since whomever I do well by, they are the very ones who injure me most of all." [LP 26.2–4] "As the stars surrounding the lovely moon will hide away the splendor of their appearance when in all her fullness she shines the brightest over the whole earth" [LP 34] "May storm winds and worries bear off the man who lectures my anguish" [LP 37] Some of my favourite passages: "since whomever I do well by, they are the very ones who injure me most of all." [LP 26.2–4] "As the stars surrounding the lovely moon will hide away the splendor of their appearance when in all her fullness she shines the brightest over the whole earth" [LP 34] "May storm winds and worries bear off the man who lectures my anguish" [LP 37]

  15. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    Who will not surrender to this amazing poet?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jack Clare

    would be five if we had some more complete poems instead of just fragments

  17. 4 out of 5

    n

    shit translation tf

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abraham Lewik

    Found the free copy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abhidev H M

    "Please, my goddess, golden crowned Aphrodite, let this lot fall to me" "Please, my goddess, golden crowned Aphrodite, let this lot fall to me"

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elly Grant

    I love Sappho, but this is a poor translation, losing the poeticism of other translations and in parts seeming even to erase her desire for women.

  21. 4 out of 5

    carolina

    “As the stars surrounding the lovely moon will hide away the splendor of their appearance when in all her fullness she shines the brightest over the whole earth”

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marlan Harris

    Selected works.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Sappho's epigrams transcend time - they are powerful and mystical - words written in rapture. I genuinely wish more of her work survived. Sappho's epigrams transcend time - they are powerful and mystical - words written in rapture. I genuinely wish more of her work survived.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicolle Alessandrra

    - I think that someone will remember us in another time. -

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amaana Sagar

    "fool don't try to bend a stubborn heart". okay Sappho don't @ me. "fool don't try to bend a stubborn heart". okay Sappho don't @ me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    vivi noelani

    Sappho’s poetry is beautiful—not just despite being fragmented, but because of it. the fact that we only have broken pieces of what she wrote makes it all the more impressive that these poems communicate the feelings they do. ...And with sweet oil costly you anointed yourself and on a soft bed delicate you would let loose your longing and neither any [ ] nor any holy place nor was there from which we were absent no grove [ ] no dance                 ]no sound                 [ (one of my favourite love poem Sappho’s poetry is beautiful—not just despite being fragmented, but because of it. the fact that we only have broken pieces of what she wrote makes it all the more impressive that these poems communicate the feelings they do. ...And with sweet oil costly you anointed yourself and on a soft bed delicate you would let loose your longing and neither any [ ] nor any holy place nor was there from which we were absent no grove [ ] no dance                 ]no sound                 [ (one of my favourite love poems ever, because rather than just capturing romance, it somehow wraps up every type of love for another human being into one description. this sense of being separate from time and the places stained with memories you made there. this is what it feels like to have been with another human being—and this woman was able to communicate that through these fragmented words.)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Reema

    “You may forget but let me tell you this: someone in some future time will think of us” Sappho really did say Lesbian Rights 2500 years ago huh. “Sweet mother, I cannot weave – slender Aphrodite has overcome me with longing for a girl.” But even after 2500 years, Sappho is still probably the most relatable poet I've read yet, so props to her. “You came and I was longing for you. You cooled a heart that burned with desire.” “You may forget but let me tell you this: someone in some future time will think of us” Sappho really did say Lesbian Rights 2500 years ago huh. “Sweet mother, I cannot weave – slender Aphrodite has overcome me with longing for a girl.” But even after 2500 years, Sappho is still probably the most relatable poet I've read yet, so props to her. “You came and I was longing for you. You cooled a heart that burned with desire.”

  28. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    Sappho's poetry is the precursors of our current feelings and understanding of our contradictions. This edition organizes the fragments in an economical way, which makes it difficult to see a fragment accompany with others in a single page. It gives the wrong impression of being aphorisms or complete pieces. The short essays and notes included by the end are helpful for the reader who approaches Sappho for the first time. Sappho's poetry is the precursors of our current feelings and understanding of our contradictions. This edition organizes the fragments in an economical way, which makes it difficult to see a fragment accompany with others in a single page. It gives the wrong impression of being aphorisms or complete pieces. The short essays and notes included by the end are helpful for the reader who approaches Sappho for the first time.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Briynne

    No wonder people talk about this poetry so much. It's gorgeous and delicate and it surprised me. Makes you wish there were more poems and less fragments. No wonder people talk about this poetry so much. It's gorgeous and delicate and it surprised me. Makes you wish there were more poems and less fragments.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Too many gaps to come to any conclusion. There are a few interesting fragments, though.

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