works and days

Wet your lungs with wine: the star is corning round,
the season is harsh, everything is thirsty under the heat,
the cicada sings sweetly from the leaves . . .
the artichoke is in flower;
now are women most pestilential, but men are feeble,
since Sirius parches their heads and knees . . .


love’s madness

He seems as fortunate as the gods who
sits where he can look in your eyes, who listens
close to you, to hear the soft voice, its sweetness
murmur in love and

laughter, all for him. But it breaks my spirit;
sets my heart trembling in my breast.
For when I look at you for a moment, the voice dies,
I can say nothing,

but my lips are stricken to silence, underneath
my skin the tenuous flame suffuses;
nothing shows in front of my eyes, my ears are
muted in thunder.

And the sweat breaks running upon me,
a trembling seizes me all over, I am greener
than grass, and it seems to me that
I am little short of dying.


the departing girl

…and honestly I wish I were dead.
She was leaving me with many tears and
said this: ‘’Oh what bad luck has been ours, Sappho;
truly I leave you against my will.’’
I replied to her thus: ‘’Go and fare well and remember me,
for you know how we cared for you.
If not, why then I want to remind you . . .
and the good times we had.
You put on many wreaths of violets
and roses and (crocuses?) together by my side,
and round your tender neck you put many woven garlands made from flowers and …
with much flowery perfume, fit for a queen,
you anointed yourself . . . and on soft beds . . .
you would satisfy your longing (for?) tender…
There was neither .. nor shrine from which we were absent,
no grove . . . nor dance … sound … ”



Hebrus, you flow, the most beautiful of rivers,
past Aenus into the turbid sea,
surging through the land of Thrace…

and many maidens visit you (to bathe ?)
their (lovely) thighs with tender hands;
they are enchanted (as they handle?)
your marvellous water like unguent . . .


*Scholiast on Theocritus
Alcaeus says that the Hebrus is the most beautiful of rivers and that it flows down through Thrace from Mount Rhodope and disgorges its waters by the city of Aenus.


(in possession of pity?)
old age now
(my) skin covers…

(Love?) flies
pursuing (the young?)…
taking (your lyre?)
sing to us of the violet-
robed one…


the conversation

frequently(?)…For those whom I treat
well harm me most of all…idle…and I am
conscious of this…



The moon has set and
the Pleiades;
it is midnight,
and time goes by, and
I lie alone.


*Attributed to Sappho by Arsenius (c. 1500);
Ascription rejected by Wilamowitz,Lobel,Page.


… Sappho declaring:
I do not know what I am to do;
I am in two minds.