Sappho’s famous Ode to Lesbia, my version

Peer of gods, pressed to thee,
He who hears the lips of thee
Speaking laughter, thrilling me.
Thee I see, and then I’m blind;
Tongue is cut off from my mind;
Arms a-fire, ears a-ring,
I am all a-trembl-ing!
Sweating, wan as paling grass,
Failing, as a worn-out blast,
Glad and mad, almost half-dead,
Falling, yet I lift my head.

What follows is a well-known translation by J. Addington Symonds, made in 1883.

Peer of gods he seemeth to me, the blissful
Man who sits and gazes at thee before him,
Close beside thee sits, and in silence hears thee silverly speaking,
Laughing love’s low laughter. Oh this, this only
Stirs the troubled heart in my breast to tremble!
For should I but see thee a little moment,
Straight is my voice hushed;
Yea, my tongue is broken, and through and through me
‘Neath the flesh impalpable fire runs tingling;
Nothing see mine eyes, and a noise of roaring
Waves in my ear sounds;
Sweat runs down in rivers, a tremor seizes
All my limbs, and paler than grass in autumn,
Caught by pains of menacing death, I falter,
Lost in the love-trance.

This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s