Monday, June 27, 2005

The Persistence of Culture on Earth

"[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."

-- Sappho

Restoration and translation by Martin West
(c) The Times Literary Supplement of London, 21 June 2005

The TLS issue itself has both Mr West's discussion of the
cultural context of Sappho and her newly discovered poem,
and the original Greek.


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