Sappho on Aesthetics

Some will say soldiers marching four abreast,
Some will say horsemen, or an armed regat-
ta’s the loveliest of sights; I say it’s that
…………..By which one is obsessed.

And anyone can prove that this is so,
For Helen, who transcended humankind
In beauty, left her noble spouse behind,
…………..When passion bade her, “Go!”

Before her son and parents were astir,
She sailed to Troy, a good wife led astray
By the goddess or whatever one may say
…………..Took possession of her

And carried her away without remorse.
Mention of Helen calls to mind my dear
Anaktoria, who’s no longer here,
…………..Bound on another course;

Sappho’s Second Best

So very like a god, he seems to me,
The one who sits across from you, imbibing
Your conversation’s sweetness past describing,
………….Face to face, knee to knee,

Hearing your voice, responding to your laughter,
Which leaves me breathless till I gasp and pant—
For catching just a glimpse of you, I can’t
………….Choke out one word after!

My tongue is broken, subtle flames contend
Beneath my skin, and instantly my sight is
Taken from me, and in my ears tinnitus
………….Rings on and on, no end.

Sappho Asks a Favor of a Friend

Immortal Aphrodite on your throne
So richly ornamented, hear my prayer:
Don’t overwhelm my spirit with despair,
…………Nor leave me here alone;

Sly daughter of great Zeus, in my distress
Spring into action as you used to do
When you would have my distant call put through
…………And swiftly acquiesce;

Leaving the golden palace in your car,
Your sparrow-powered chariot at speed
Brought you to earth in answer to my need,
…………From heaven through mid-air;

And with a smile on your immortal face,
You’d ask, “Oh, dear, what can the matter be
This time; this time, why do you call on me,
…………And how may I erase