Friday, April 25, 2008

The Anactoria Poem by Sappho

This week: Jim Powell’s beautiful translation of Sappho’s Anactoria poem. Her passion, as always, shines through.


The Anactoria Poem

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 what-
ever you love best.

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 the goddess seduced her wits and
left her to wander,

she forgot them all, she could not remember
anything but longing, and lightly straying
aside, lost her way. But that reminds me
now: Anactória,

she's not here, and I'd rather see her lovely
step, her sparkling glance and her face than gaze on
all the troops in Lydia in their chariots and
glittering armor.





Sappho lived in 7th-6th Century BC on the Greek island of Lesbos. While not much is known about her life, she is believed to have run a school for women that was dedicated to the cult of Eros and Aphrodite. She was highly regarded by the ancients and remains highly regarded today.

20 Comments:

Blogger Misty said...

This is lovely. I've never read it. Thanks for posting.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

i concur...with misty. lovely.

like the profile this week too...nice.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Singing Bear said...

Cool. I wonder how much is lost in translation? An eternal problem.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Misty said...

Or how much is gained...

5:27 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

Have you read "Helen" by H.D.? It's one of my favorite Odyssey-inspired poems.

"Helen"

All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.

All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles,
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white,
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.

Greece sees unmoved,
God's daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
and slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.

12:01 PM  
Blogger corpthug69 said...

Very thought provoking, Thank you!

9:24 PM  
Blogger Scheyenne Zigzag said...

Thanks for this wonderful translation (whatever the original is like...!)

5:57 AM  
Blogger Scheyenne Zigzag said...

Thanks for this wonderful translation (whatever the original is like...!)

5:57 AM  
Blogger Chandini said...

Lines from my 'Self Immolatition'(Voyage Series& Other Poems, Pen Books, India)

--If you have not yet bought
the ticket to eternity
let us just sit on this boat
and wait for the whisper of a wind

Better still,
let me immolate myself on you
in a mystic rite
crucified as I am

This convulsive moment
comes once in a lifetime
and I would not
trade it for a life on the ground.

Chandini santosh
http://www.chandinisantosh.blogspot.com

2:55 AM  
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Blogger wordcrafter said...

Excellent choice always on these pages, a variety of style, poets, periods, etc.. wonderfully eclectic and inspirational.
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Blogger cowboyfan said...

your poems are cool

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