Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics

by Bliss Carman


 

  The Poetry of Sappho
  Now to please my little friend
Cyprus, Paphos, or Panormus

What shall we do, Cytherea?

Power and beauty and knowledge
O Pan of the evergreen forest
O Aphrodite
Peer of the gods he seems
The Cyprian came to thy cradle
Aphrodite of the foam
Nay, but always and forever
Let there be garlands, Dica
When the Cretan maidens
In a dream I spoke with the Cyprus-born
Sleep thou in the bosom
Hesperus, bringing together
In the grey olive-grove a small brown bird
In the apple boughs the coolness
Pale rose leaves have fallen
The courtyard of her house is wide
There is a medlar-tree
I behold Arcturus going westward
Softly the first step of twilight
Once you lay upon my bosom
I loved thee, Atthis, in the long ago
I shall be ever maiden
It was summer when I found you
I recall thy white gown, cinctured
Lover, art thou of a surety
With your head thrown backward
Ah, what am I but a torrent
Love shakes my soul, like a mountain wind
Love, let the wind cry
Heart of mine if all the altars
Never yet, love, in earth's lifetime
"Who was Atthis?" men shall ask
When the great pink mallow
When I pass thy door at night
Well I found you in the twilit garden
Will not men remember us
I grow weary of the foreign cities
Ah, what detains thee, Phaon
Phaon, O my lover
O heart of insatiable longing
Surely somehow, in some measure
O but my delicate lover
Softer than the hill-fog to the forest
I seek and desire
Like torn sea-kelp in the drift
Fine woven purple linen
When I am home from travel
When I behold the pharos shine
Is the day long
Lo, on the distance a dark blue ravine
Art thou the top-most apple

How soon will all my lovely days be over

Soul of sorrow, why this weeping?
It can never be mine
Others shall behold the sun
Let thy strong spirit never fear
Will none say of Sappho
When I have departed
There is no more to say, now thou art still
Play up, play up thy silver flute
A beautiful child is mine
Ah, but now henceforth
Softly the wind moves through the radiant morning
What the west wind whispers
Indoors the fire is kindled
You ask how love can keep the mortal soul
Like a tall forest were their spears
My lover smiled, "O friend, ask not
Ye who have the stable world
I heard the gods reply
The sun on the tide, the peach on the bough
If death be good
Tell me what this life means
Ye have heard how Marsyas
Hour by hour I sit
Once in the shining street
How strange is love, O my lover
How to say I love you
Hark, love, to the tambourines
Over the roofs the honey-coloured moon
In the quiet garden world
Soft was the wind in the beech-trees
Have you heard the news of Sappho's garden
Love is so strong a thing
Hadst thou, with all thy loveliness, been true
As, on a morn, a traveller might emerge
Where shall I look for thee
A sad, sad face, and saddest eyes that ever
Why have the gods in derision
Like a red lily in the meadow grasses
When in the spring the swallows all return
Cold is the wind where Daphne sleeps
Hark, where Poseidon's
Hark, my lover, it is spring!
When the early soft spring wind comes blowing
I am more tremulous than shaken reeds
Over the wheat-field
Once more the rain on the mountain
Epilogue
 

Afterword

by D.M.R. Bentley