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Poem of the Day--Sappho

By John Published: April 21, 2010

Plato considered the Greek poet Sappho (6th century BCE) to be required reading.  Few intact poems survive, but fragments of poems survive because they were quoted by other authors whose works have survived.

Here's one of her famous poems, The Anactoria Poem,  from a 2007 translation by Jim Powell, who reads it here. The web site also has a translation of the same poem by Richard Lattimore. I've always liked the Mary Barnard translations.

The Anactoria Poem (translated by Jim Powell)

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.



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