Michael R. Burch

1958
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Immortal Sappho: Translations

These are my modern English translations of ancient Greek poems by the immortal Sappho of Lesbos on the subjects of love, Eros (erotic love), etc.

With my two small arms, how can I
think to encircle the sky?
—Sappho, fragment 35, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Mother, how can I weave,
so overwhelmed by love?
—Sappho, fragment 90, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

What cannot be swept ——— aside
must be wept.
—Sappho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What cannot be said
must be wept.
—Sappho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon has long since set;
the Pleiades are gone;
now half the night is spent,
yet here I lie—alone.
—Sappho, fragment 52, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Midnight.
The hours drone on
as I moan here, alone.
—Sappho, fragment 52, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are,
of all the unapproachable stars,
the fairest.
—Sappho, fragment 155, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Someone, somewhere
will remember us,
I swear!
—Sappho, fragment 147, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Gold does not rust,
yet my son becomes dust?
—Sappho, fragment 137, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

No droning bee,
nor even the bearer of honey
for me!
—Sappho, fragment 113, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

That country wench bewitches your heart?
Hell, her most beguiling art's
hiking her dress
to seduce you with her ankles' nakedness!
—Sappho, fragment 57, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have a delightful daughter
fairer than the fairest flowers, Cleis,
whom I cherish more than all Lydia and lovely Lesbos.
—Sappho, fragment 132, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have a lovely daughter
with a face like the fairest flowers,
my beloved Cleis ...
—Sappho, fragment 132, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Attis, you forsake me
and flit off to Andromeda ...
—Sappho, fragment 131, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

He is dying, Cytherea, the delicate Adonis.
What shall we lovers do?
Rip off your clothes, bare your breasts and abuse them!
—Sappho, fragment 140, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Awed by the moon’s splendor,
stars covered their undistinguished faces.
Even so, we.
—Sappho, fragment 34, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Those I most charm
do me the most harm.
—Sappho, fragment 12, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Just now I was called,
enthralled,
by golden-sandalled
dawn...
—Sappho, fragment 15, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Once again I dive into this fathomless ocean,
intoxicated by lust.
—Sappho, after Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Did this epigram perhaps inspire the legend that Sappho leapt into the sea to her doom, over her despair for her love for the ferryman Phaon?

Sappho, fragment 138, loose translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch

1.
Darling, let me see your face;
unleash your eyes' grace.

2.
Turn to me, favor me
with your eyes' indulgence.

3.
Look me in the face,
——— smile ———
reveal your eyes' grace!

4.
Turn to me, favor me
with your eyes’ indulgence.



Preposterous Eros
by Michael R. Burch

“Preposterous Eros” – Patricia Falanga

Preposterous Eros shot me in
the buttocks, with a Devilish grin,
spent all my money in a rush
then left my heart effete pink mush.

Keywords/Tags: Sappho, translations, Lesbos, lesbian, love, Eros, erotic. Sapphic
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