Sappho’s thrilling lyric verse has been unremittingly popular for more than 2,600 years—certainly a record for poetry of any kind—and love for her art only increases as time goes on. Though her extant work consists only of a collection of fragments and a handful of complete poems, her mystique endures to be discovered anew by each generation, and to inspire new efforts at bringing the spirit of her Greek words faithfully into English.
In the past, translators have taken two basic approaches to Sappho: either very literally translating only the words in the fragments, or taking the liberty of reconstructing the missing parts. Willis Barnstone has taken a middle course, in which he remains faithful to the words of the fragments, only very judiciously filling in a word or phrase in cases where the meaning is obvious. This edition includes extensive notes and a special section of "Testimonia": appreciations of Sappho in the words of ancient writers from Plato to Plutarch. Also included are a glossary of all the figures mentioned in the poems, and suggestions for further reading.
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About the Author
His publications include Modern European Poetry (Bantam, 1967), The Other Bible (HarperCollins, 1984), Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice (Yale, 1993), Funny Ways of Staying Alive (University Press of New England, 1993), The Secret Reader: 501 Sonnets (University Press of New England, 1996), the memoir With Borges on an Ordinary Evening in Buenos Aires (University of Illinois, 1993), Algebra of Night: Selected Poems—1949–1998 (Sheep Meadow, 1999), The Apocalypse (New Directions, 2000), Life Watch (BOA Editions, 2003), Border of a Dream: Poems of Antonio Machado (Copper Canyon, 2003), and The Gnostic Bible (Shambhala Publications, 2003).
A Guggenheim Fellow, his awards include a National Endowment for the Arts award, a National Endowment for the Humanities award, an Emily Dickinson Award of the Poetry Society of America, a W. H. Auden Award of the New York State Council on the Arts, the Midland Authors Award, three Book of the Month Selections and four Pulitzer Prize nominations for poetry. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Doubletake, Harper's, New York Review of Books, Poetry, Paris Review Poetry, Partisan Review, the New Yorker, and the Times Literary Supplement.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sappho's poetry speaks volumes on the timeless conditions of love as seen from such poems as, "Anactoria", and the less known,"Goatheard", Barnestone sympathizes that though her love was deep, she felt the slings of loves device and "...she danced in chains."
The man seems to me strong as a god, the man who sits across from you and listens to your sweet talk nearby and your lovely laughter--which, when I hear it, strikes fear in the heart in my breast. For whenever I glance at you, it seems that I can say nothing at all but my tongue is broken in silence, and that instant a light fire rushes beneath my skin, I can no longer see anything in my eyes and my ears are thundering, and cold sweat pours down me, and shuddering grasps me all over, and I am greener than grass, and I seem to myself to be little short of death But all is endurable, since even a poor man ...
The title of my review is a fragment of a famous poem by Sappho. I challenge you to find that poem. If you do let me know. Do I have to introduce Sappho? From Antiquity till now she's a shining star. According to Plato she was the tenth muse and someone called her poetry "as refreshing as a morning breeze". Is Sappho a les...? By many readers Sappho is regarded as such. I'm not saying that this isn't true but to answer that question we should know her better because too little is left of her work to say anything with certainty. In Antiquity decent women were supposed to work in the kitchen and to raise their children, nothing more. But there were exceptions. More or less 150 years after Homer's Iliad, Sappho lived on the island of L..., west off the coast of what's modern Turkey. Her poems are vivid and she needs only a few words to describe essential human feelings. For instance she calls solitude: "this icy numbness of being alone". Sappho excels also in describing nature - something you won't find often in Ancient literature. " Wedding of Andromache " is one of the most vivid descriptions in the poetry of Antiquity. It gives an almost journalistic account of the homecoming of Hector and Andromache. ( Nice to know: from Sappho's poems remain about 500 lines. All Tragedies by Aeschylus have a total of 8144 lines. Conclusion: What's left of Sappho's poems is almost next to nothing.) Barnstone gives a translation in modern and easy to read English. It renders the delicacy and tenderness of Sappho's poems.