Friday, 10 May 2013

Sappho: Excerpts from Hymn to Aphrodite

Part I Chapter I
Shimmering throned immortal Aphrodite,
Daughter of Zeus, Enchantress, I implore thee,
Spare me, O queen, this agony and anguish,
Crush not my spirit.
Whenever before thou has hearkened to me,
To my voice calling to thee in the distance,
And heeding, thou hast come,
Leaving thy father's Golden dominions,
Come then, I pray, grant me surcease from sorrow,
Drive away care, I beseech thee, O Goddess,
Fulfil for me what I yearn to accomplish,
Be thou my ally.

Part I Chapter II
Peer of the gods, the happiest man I seem,
Sitting before thee, rapt at thy sight,
Hearing thy soft laughter and they voice most gentle,
Speaking so sweetly.
Then in my bosom my heart wildly flutters,
And when on thee I gaze never so little,
Bereft am I of all power of utterance,
My tongue is useless.
There rushes at once through my flesh tingling fire,
My eyes are deprived of all power of vision,
My ears hear nothing by sounds of winds roaring,
And all is blackness.
Down courses in streams the sweat of emotion,
A dread trembling o'erwhelms me,
Paler than I, than dried grass in autumn
And in my madness, dead I seem almost.

Part I Chapter III
A troop of horse, the serried ranks of marchers,
A noble fleet.
Some think these of all on earth, most beautiful.
For me, naught else regarding is my beloved.
To understand this is for all most simple,
For thus gazing much on mortal perfection,
And knowing already what life could give her,
Him chose fair Helen,
So must we learn, in a world made as this one,
Man can never attain his greatest desire,
But must pray; for what good fortune Fate holdeth,
Never unmindful.

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