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Epigramma interruptum

My name is...(do we care?) And my birthplace

Was....(seriously, who cares at all?) I come

From noble lineage that I can trace

To great...(and what if all of them were scum?)

I ended life in good repute (would we

Care if you quit this world in infamy?)

And now in death I lie beneath this tomb

(Wait...who is speaking, really? And to whom?)

Translated by A.Z. Foreman


Your wrinkles, Philinna, are preferable

to the juice of all youthful prime, and I desire

more to clasp in my hands your apples

nodding with the weight of their clusters,

than the firm breasts of a young girl.

Your autumn excels another's spring,

and your winter is warmer than another's summer.


Why find fault with my locks grown grey so early

and my eyes wet with tears? These are the pranks

my love for thee plays ; these are the care-marks

of unfulfilled desire ; these are the traces the arrows left ;

these are the work of many sleepless nights.

Yes, and my sides are already wrinkled

all before their time, and the skin hangs loose

upon my neck. The more fresh and young the flame is,

the older grows my body devoured by care.

But take pity on me, and grant me thy favour,

and at once it will recover its freshness

and my locks their raven tint.

Translation: W.R. PATON

Siren's Tongue

I meant to bid thee, sweet, farewell,

But it was not to be;

I check the words I would have said,

And stay, my love, with thee.

I cannot live from thee apart;

From banishment I shrink,

As from the black and bitter night

Of Acheron's dark brink.

Thy light is as the light of day,

And yet the day is dumb;

But thy soft murmuring voice I hear

When thou again art come.

That voice to me is sweeter far

Than any Siren's tongue;

And all my hopes and all my joys

Are on those accents hung.

translated by Jane Minot Sedgwick

Sappho’s kisses

Sappho’s kisses are gentle,

gentle too he twining of her snowy limbs,

and gentle the rest of her -except her hart,

made of obdurate adamant.

Her love reaches no further than her lips.

The rest: virgin territory.

Who can live with that?

Maybe, just maybe,he who has known

the thirst of tantalus can endure it.