poikilóthron' athanát Aphródita,
paî Díos dolóploke, líssomaí se,
mé m' ásaisi med' oníaisi dámna,
alla tuíd' élth', aí pota k'atérota
tas émas aúdas aíoisa péloi
éklues, pátros de dómon lípoisa
This is probably the most literal translation, by Leonard Palmer
, because it comes in his book The Greek Language
to illustrate the Lesbian
dialect -- at least, I assume it's by him, because he doesn't credit anyone else:
Immortal Aphrodite of the ornate thrones
Daughter of Zeus, wile-weaving, I beseech you
Do not subdue with anguish and love-pangs,
Lady, my spirit.
But come here if ever in the past
Hearing my cries from afar
You gave ear and, leaving your father's house,
You came, your golden
Chariot having yoked...
That's all he quotes of the Greek. Since I have quoted a full poem from a number of people still under copyright
in To a Young Girl
, I shall here refrain from quoting full translation
s, but only give the corresponding openings in the others I have at hand. See also To a Young Girl
for the details of publication of these.
Bliss Carman's imaginative reconstruction begins like this:
God-born and deathless,
Break not my spirit
With bitter anguish:
Thou wilful empress,
I pray thee, hither!
As once aforetime
Well thou didst hearken
To my voice far off, --
Listen, and leaving
Thy father's golden
House in yoked chariot...
began like this:
Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, undying
Goddess, throned in glory, of love's beguilements,
Do not now with frenzy and desperation
Utterly crush me.
Hear and come! -- if ever before Thou heardest
Cry of mine, that called from afar Thy succour;
Then, in haste, with chariot swiftly harnessed,
Forth from the golden
Hall of Zeus Thy father, to me Thou camest...
Finally, for a complete version, Josephine Balmer
says it like this (Sappho: Poems and Fragments
, translated by Josephine Balmer, Bloodaxe Books
, 1992, quoted by permission):
Immortal, Aphrodite, on your patterned throne,
daughter of Zeus, guile-weaver,
I beg you, goddess, don't subjugate my heart
with anguish, with grief
but come here to me now, if ever in the past
you have heard my distant pleas
and listened, leaving your father's golden house
you came to me then
with your chariot yoked: beautiful swift sparrows
brought you around the dark earth
with a whirl of wings, beating fast, from heaven
down through the mid-air
to reach me quickly, then you, my sacred goddess,
your immortal face smiling,
asked me what had gone wrong this time and this time
why I was begging
and what in my demented heart, I wanted most:
'Who shall I persuade this time
to take you back, yet once again, to her love;
who wrongs you, Sappho?
For if she runs away, soon she shall run after,
if she shuns gifts, she shall give,
if she does not love you, soon she shall even
against her own will.'
So come to me now, free me from this aching pain,
fulfil everything that
my heart desires to be fulfilled: you, yes you,
will be my ally.