Skip to main content

Such Sweet Sorrow

After Sappho, fragment 94

Weeping, as she left me, she said, ‘Sappho,
I can’t bear it. Would that I were dead!
What cruel luck is ours!’ But I replied,

‘Go now. Farewell. Remember me for this:
you know how much we loved you — all of us.
Or else, remember what good times we had!
The way we used to dress you up in flowers:
the wreaths of violets and crocuses
and roses, and the garlands we would weave
to place around that tender neck of yours.
We made a perfume for you from the flowers.
You would anoint yourself, our fairy queen.
We lay together on soft beds
and every longing of your heart was satisfied.

When Aphrodite called, no shrine, no grove
of sacred trees escaped our worship.
And the music… and the dancing… Love, remember that.’

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by the author

Sappho, Fragment 94

Τεθνάκην δ’ ἀδόλως θέλω·
ἀ με ψισδομένα κατελίμπανεν

πόλλα καὶ τόδ’ ἔειπέ [μοι·
‘ὤιμ’ ὠς δεῖνα πεπ[όνθ]αμεν,
Ψάπφ’, ἦ μάν σ’ ἀέκοισ’ ἀπυλιμπάνω.’

τὰν δ’ ἔγω τάδ’ ἀμειβόμαν·
‘χαίροισ’ ἔρχεο κἄμεθεν
μέμναισ’, οἶσθα γὰρ ὤς σε πεδήπομεν·

αἰ δὲ μή, ἀλλά σ’ ἔγω θέλω
ὄμναισαι [....] . [...] .. αι
.. [ ] καὶ κάλ’ ἐπάσχομεν.

πό[λλοις γὰρ στεφάν]οις ἴων
καὶ βρ[όδων κρο]κίων τ’ ὔμοι
κἀ.. [ ] πὰρ ἔμοι περεθήκαο,

καὶ πό[λλαις ὐπα]θύμιδας
πλέκ[ταις ἀμφ’ ἀ]πάλαι δέραι
ἀνθέων ἐ[βαλες] πεποημέναις,

καὶ πολλῷι [ ]. μύρῳι
βρενθείῳι. [ ]ρν[..]ν
ξαλείψαο κα[ὶ βασ]ιληίῳι,

καὶ στρώμν [αν ἐ]πὶ μολθάκαν
ἀπάλαν πα . [ ] …ων
ἐξίης πόθον[ν ] . νίδων,

κωὔτε τις [ οὔ]τε τι
ἶρον οὐδ’ν[ ]
ἔπλετ’ ὄπποθεν ἄμ]μες ἀπέσκομεν

οὐκ ἄλσος . [ χ]όρος