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The Complete Poems Of Sappho

Paperback Book
Publisher: 
Shambhala
 | 
March, 2009
ISBN:
9781590306130
In stock now: 
1
$22.50 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

One of the greatest of the Greek lyric poets—and one of the very few women poets of the ancient world whom we know by name—Sappho of the island of Lesbos wrote incomparable songs of love, heartache, and desire that have enthralled readers for more than two millennia. Though her extant work consists of a collection of fragments and only a handful of complete poems, her mystique endures as she is discovered anew by each generation, inspiring new efforts at bringing the spirit of her poetry faithfully into English.

Now when I look at you a moment

my voice is empty

and can say nothing as my tongue

cracks and slender fire races

under my skin. My eyes are dead

to light, my ears

pound, and sweat pours over me.

I convulse, am greener than grass

and feel my mind slip as I go

close to death.

Willis Barnstone remains faithful to the words of the fragments, only very judiciously filling in a word or phrase in cases where the meaning is obvious. In his unique approach he aims for a fine balance between the literal and underlying meanings of the text. It has been the guiding principle behind his much-praised translations of Rainer Maria Rilke, Jorge Luis Borges, Antonio Machado,
St. John
of the Cross, and the Bible.

First published in English as Sweetbitter Love, The Complete Poems of Sappho includes a wealth of materials that enhance the text (with the original Greek on facing pages) and provide insight into Sappho and her world. In addition to the extensive introduction and explanatory notes, there is an intriguing-to-read glossary that identifies in detail the characters Sappho refers to, both divine and human, as well as the places she mentions; and a fascinating collection of “Testimonia”: translated selections from the ancient Greek and Latin world that refer to Sappho—biographical material, descriptions of her appearance, praise, criticism, poems dedicated to her or inspired by her—by everyone from Plato to Plutarch.

Publisher’s Description: 

Sapphos thrilling lyric verse has been unremittingly popular for more than 2,600 yearscertainly a record for poetry of any kindand 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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