Friday, 18 February 2011

Sappho's Hymn to Aphrodite

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Iridescent-throned Aphrodite, deathless

Child of Zeus, wile-weaver, I now implore you,

Don't--I beg you, Lady--with pains and torments

Crush down my spirit,

But before if ever you've heard my pleadings

Then return, as once when you left your father's

Golden house; you yoked to your shining car your

Wing-whirring sparrows;

Skimming down the paths of the sky's bright ether

On they brought you over the earth's black bosom,

Swiftly--then you stood with a sudden brilliance,

Goddess, before me;

Deathless face alight with your smile, you asked me

What I suffered, who was my cause of anguish,

What would ease the pain of my frantic mind, and

Why had I called you

To my side: "And whom should Persuasion summon

Here, to soothe the sting of your passion this time?

Who is now abusing you, Sappho? Who is

Treating you cruelly?

Now she runs away, but she'll soon pursue you;

Gifts she now rejects--soon enough she'll give them;

Now she doesn't love you, but soon her heart will

Burn, though unwilling."

Come to me once more, and abate my torment;

Take the bitter care from my mind, and give me

All I long for; Lady, in all my battles

Fight as my comrade.
Translation, copyright 1997 Elizabeth Vandiver

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