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30.6.05

New Sappho poem uncovered

A new poem by Sappho has been uncovered. That means that we now have four more-or-less complete poems by her.

Some say of nine Muses, how neglected!
Behold, Sappho, from Lesbos, is the tenth
-Plato- (probably)


Sappho is an extremely interesting character. One of those people who must have been real at some point, but have long since become something more like myths. She's the
ür-lesbian, the great star-crossed lover of antiquity, the archetypical confessional, suffering poet, etc. Still, her role as One of the few female artists and intellectuals who have managed to both be respected by her contemporaries in that massively patriarchal society, and who has also held onto her place in the canon all that time, means that she must have been a remarkable person. I can't really think of anyone comparable to her in those respects, except maybe Hildegard von Bingen.

Here's Martin West's translation of the new poem. Words in brackets are conjecture.

"[You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts
[be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre:

[but my once tender] body old age now
[has seized;] my hair’s turned [white] instead of dark;

my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.

This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way.

Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end,

handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife."

2 Comments:

Blogger Det Polemiske Jeg said...

Sappho er the shizzle. Men hvem er Martin West? Var det en særlig spennende oversettelse? Jeg syns ikke så er tilfelle.

July 01, 2005 9:59 am  
Blogger MGL said...

Nei, det var en elendig oversettelse, men meningen var sikkert at den skulle ligge tett opp til originalen, ikke at den skulle flyte.

July 01, 2005 11:48 am  

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