Read Stung With Love: Poems and Fragments by Sappho Aaron Poochigian Carol Ann Duffy Online


More or less 150 years after Homer's Iliad, Sappho lived on the island of Lesbos, west off the coast of what is present Turkey. Little remains today of her writings, which are said to have filled nine papyrus rolls in the great library at Alexandria some 500 years after her death. The surviving texts consist of a lamentably small and fragmented body of lyric poetry--amongMore or less 150 years after Homer's Iliad, Sappho lived on the island of Lesbos, west off the coast of what is present Turkey. Little remains today of her writings, which are said to have filled nine papyrus rolls in the great library at Alexandria some 500 years after her death. The surviving texts consist of a lamentably small and fragmented body of lyric poetry--among them poems of invocation, desire, spite, celebration, resignation and remembrance--that nevertheless enables us to hear the living voice of the poet Plato called the tenth Muse. This is a new translation of her surviving poetry.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators....

Title : Stung With Love: Poems and Fragments
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ISBN : 9780140455571
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 160 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Stung With Love: Poems and Fragments Reviews

  • Warwick
    2019-01-10 21:25

    •Greek Lyric: Sappho and Alcaeus, tr. David A Campbell, Loeb 1990•If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, tr. Anne Carson, Virago 2002•Stung With Love: Poems and Fragments, tr. Aaron Poochigian, Penguin 2015SAPPHICS FOR SAPPHOEach ellipsis teases, inviting dreams – dreamsFormed from torn papyruses' single words. Bare,Lonely scrawls of sigmas and psis that sing, still,      Sticky with meaning.Fragments all. What's left is the one percent, rich,Rare. When Alexandria burned, the whole worldChoked to breathe the smoke of the ninety-nine. Now,      Desperate to get youBack, we trawl millennia-old unearthed dumps,Hunting out your clotted Aeolic strung lines.Lone hendecasyllables' sounds that awed Greeks      After you quoted. Questing, reading, marvelling – so we search on,Poets seeking answers to questions all lostLovers ask. Your answers still reach us, drenched, fresh      From the Aegean.A LIFE IN FRAGMENTSTowards the end of the second century AD, in the last flickering light of classical Greece, a philosopher called Maximus, in a city on the Levantine coast, wrote a grammatical textbook about figures of speech. Casting around in old books for examples of how poets have described love, he writes: ‘Diotima says that Love flourishes when he has abundance but dies when he is in need: Sappho combined these ideas and called Love bitter-sweet and “ἀλγεσίδωρον”.’So we have this one word that Sappho wrote, some eight centuries before Maximus was born. This is what we mean when we talk about her poetry existing in ‘fragments’. The Canadian poet Anne Carson translates this example as:171paingiverVery often these remnants are quoted with no regard to any poetic quality, but rather in illustration of some grammatical point. Apollonius Dyscolus, for instance, writing again some time in the 100s AD, included a throwaway remark on variant dialects during an essay on pronouns. ‘The Aeolians,’ he said, ‘spell ὅς [‘his, hers, its’] with digamma in all cases and genders, as in Sappho's τὸν ϝὸν παῖδα κάλει.’ Again Carson's translation gives us just the phrase in question:164she summons her sonCarson's translation of Sappho's oeuvre is well subtitled ‘Fragments of Sappho’, since most of what's left is of this nature. It's certainly nice to have everything collected in this way in English, though it must be admitted that her book sometimes seems more an exercise in completionism than in poetic expression. That said, as other reviewers have pointed out, reading pages and pages of these deracinated terms (‘holder…crossable…I might go…downrushing’) can succeed in generating a certain hypnotic, Zen-like appeal.Nevertheless, such things lose a lot by being read in isolation; the as it were archaeological pleasure of digging them out of their original context, in works of grammar or rhetoric, is completely absent. For that, the Loeb edition translated by David A. Campbell is far preferable, for all that he has no pretensions to being a poet, just because you get Sappho delivered in that context of other writers. The fonts used for the Greek are also much more readable in the Loeb. (The Carson edition does include the original Greek, and points for that – though there are some strange editorial…choices? mistakes? – such as printing ς for σ in all positions.)MUSIC AND LYRICSTo the Ancient Greeks, Homer was simply ‘The Poet’ – and ‘The Poetess’ was Sappho. She was held in extraordinarily high esteem, which makes it the more frustrating that so much of her has been lost: ninety-nine percent, according to some experts. Only one or two poems remain that can be said to be more or less complete.Her poetry is mainly ‘lyric’, that is, designed to be sung while strumming along on the lyre. Sappho was, in modern terms, a singer-songwriter; she was known to be an extremely talented musician, designing a new kind of lyre and perhaps even inventing the plectrum. When we read her poetry now, we have to remember that we're looking at something like a shredded collection of Bob Dylan or Georges Brassens lyrics, with no idea of how their meaning would have interacted with the music.But however important the lost melodies, we do know that she was revered for the beauty of her phrasing. This is something translators struggle with. Fragment 146, a proverb about not wanting to take the bad with the good, is rendered literally by Campbell as ‘I want neither the honey nor the bee’ and by Carson, ‘Neither for me honey nor the honey bee’ – which is better, but consider the alliterative dazzle of the original:μήτε μοι μέλι μήτε μέλισσα(mēte moi meli mēte melissa)Reading the Greek, even if you don't understand what any of the words mean, will often get you halfway there with Sappho. Say it out loud and you'll get a tingle, as it starts to dawn on you what all the fuss might have been about.But the rest of the job has to be done by translators. The Loeb edition will not help you here: its prose translations are only a crib to help you study the original. Carson's approach is slightly conflicted. She quotes approvingly a well-known statement from Walter Benjamin to the effect that a translation should ‘find that intended effect…which produces in it the echo of the original’, i.e. that one should translate ideas and feelings rather than words. But she also claims to be trying to use ‘where possible the same order of words and thoughts as Sappho did’, which is the sort of thing that makes me instantly suspicious.Here's her version of Fragment 2, which is one of the more complete poems we have, scratched on to a broken piece of pottery which has miraculously survived from the second century AD. The first stanza (an invocation to Aphrodite) is probably missing, but the next two run like this:]here to me from Krete to this holy templewhere is your graceful groveof apple trees and altars smoking      with frankincense.And it in cold water makes a clear sound throughapple branches and with roses the whole placeis shadowed and down from radiant-shaking leaves      sleep comes dropping.This is not bad. I think the word order is unnecessarily foreign at times, but it does sound good and Carson even includes a few of Sappho's famous hendecasyllabic lines – though they are not true ‘Sapphic’ verses, a very strict form which is not well adapted to English (as you may be able to tell from my attempt at the top of this review).Aaron Poochigian, in a selected edition for Penguin Classics, takes a different approach. ‘Sappho did not compose free verse,’ he chides, perhaps with one eye on Carson, ‘and free-verse translations, however faithful they may be to her words, betray her poems by their very nature.’ Poochigian's version of the stanzas above goes like this:Leave Crete and sweep to this blest templeWhere apple-orchard's eleganceIs yours, and smouldering altars, ampleFrankincense.Here under boughs a bracing springPercolates, roses without numberUmber the earth and, rustling,The leaves drip slumber.I think that's pretty great. It takes much more liberties with Sappho's actual words but, to the extent that it produces a sensual thrill in English, it more faithfully reproduces the effect that Sappho had on her original audience. At least, to me it does. Poochigian's selection, called Stung with Love, is much shorter than the other two I read, but a very good encapsulation of her qualities. It also has by far the best introduction, a brilliant essay which puts Sappho in her context extremely well. And because it's the most recently published, it's also able to include the magic new Sappho poem discovered in 2013, written on a scrap of papyrus used to stuff a mummy.BIGGER THAN A BIG MAN‘Someone will remember us / I say / even in another time.’ Another fragment. The irony of this one upset me at first, because she should have survived in far greater quantities than she did. But even so, the thrill of hearing the voice of a woman who lived six centuries before Christ was enough to catch my breath over and over again. Generally speaking, women in antiquity are pretty silent. But Sappho isn't, and her influence, despite the meagre remains we have, is ginormous.It might sound hyperbolic to claim that all modern love poetry is inherited from Sappho, but in fact there's a very real sense in which that's true – so great was her reputation among Classical writers and the Europeans who, in turn, studied them, that it's quite possible to trace a direct line from Sappho, through Catullus, to the Romantic poets and from them to contemporary pop lyrics. Every song about the pain of unrequited love owes something to Sappho's Fragment 31, for example – ideas now so clichéd that we forget they have an ancestry at all. That's just natural, surely – just the way people speak? But no, it isn't natural, it's Sappho. She's part of our inheritance, part of our language. She's under our tongue.

  • Pink
    2019-01-16 20:25

    St g h lo e: s d Fr gm ntsTh s s w at ls ke to re s is e sy? C n ou und and I'm saying? Or s h ve i pact ur co p sion d enjoyment? I have no doubt that Sappho was an accomplished and important poet, who shaped the genre and influenced many later greats. I'm not knowledgeable enough to know just how influential she was, so I take other people's word for that. For myself, I was looking forward to trying her poetry and finding out what this 'lesbian' poet had to say. I soon realised I wouldn't have the usual problem of finding a translation I liked, though that's still an issue, but here the problem is just to find the text itself. It's turning up all the time, found in caves, dug up, or fragmented on pottery. It's really a miracle that any survives at all, but that doesn't make it an easy thing to read. There's just not enough of it.

  • Ray
    2019-01-17 22:26

    We know very little about Sappho, a few fragments and extracts that have miraculously survived the years. We do know that she was very highly regarded in antiquity - some of the fragments are preserved in writing style guides.This book provides an opaque porthole on to an alien world - affluent Greek society in the 6th century BC. The fragmented nature of what survives, and a cultural and religious ambience far removed from our own, make this a challenging read. And yet there are areas of resonance - love & loss, yearning, beauty, jealousy, fear of aging - which are universal across societies and time. This means that one can appreciate Sappho's talents, and grieve over what has been lost.

  • Robert
    2018-12-31 19:14

    This book collects the entire known surviving works of the Greek poet, Sappho, who managed to cause her native island of Lesbos to become permanently associated with female homosexuality and have her own name modified into an adjective. Unfortunately for such an influential woman, her extant works sum to a slim volume of fragments from larger poems. This seems to be a great loss, as what does remain is remarkable.Sappho famously dealt with the love and life of women as seriously as Homer dealt with the feuds and plots of men and gods and she did so in delightful, vivacious language, if these translations are any kind of reliable guide to the original.The translator has placed a commentary facing each fragment as well as providing a concise introduction to what is known about Sappho and the society she lived in. These commentaries are often longer than the fragments they annotate, but they do illuminate and are worth the little amount of extra time they take to read. The entire book can be read with attention in an afternoon and if you are a fan of poetry generally, or of Greek literature, I strongly recommend you invest the time to do so.

  • Lydia
    2019-01-01 20:13

    I love Sappho. I completely cannot be adjective about Sappho. She is incredible. Loved Carol Ann Duffy's foreword, loved Poochigian's introduction, really enjoyed the translation. And Sappho's poems are, of course, exquisite.

  • Suzanne
    2018-12-31 23:25

    I prepared for my reading of Sappho by making sure I had another book with me at all times behind which I could hide my actual reading. Such was my belief in the myth of Sappho as the writer of toe-curling, girl-on-girl erotica. Imagine my disappointment surprise to learn that the few fragments that we have of Sappho's writing are impossibly tame. You have to have a LOT of historical context and take a pretty huge leap of faith to read these poems as dirty. But you don't have to read into them to know that they are beautiful. And to close the book feeling deeply sad that so much of Sappho's writing has been lost to the ages. I almost skipped Sappho in my Great Books reading. I'm very glad I didn't. This translation was satisfying and the notations were interesting even if I read them with a hearty helping of skepticism. I'd like to peruse a few different approaches to the translation but for now I'm on to Aeschylus.

  • Johan Thilander
    2019-01-14 20:30

    Vi måste prata om Poochigian.Inför denna översättning så vill han nämligen närma sig musikaliteten hos Sapfo, något han känner att andra översättningar har försummat. Hans lösning?As Sapphic stanzas are still a novelty in English poetry, they would not be helpful to most readers. Since all of Sappho's poems are song-lyrics, I opted to translate them as English lyric poems.Vill säga: han har skrivit hennes dikter på rim. Inte för att Sapfo skrev på rim (det gjorde hon inte) utan för att "it is one of the ways English writers indicate that something is song-like". Det finns så många problem med detta att jag inte vet var jag ska börja. Först och främst - istället för att närma sig Sapfo så distanserar han sig från henne. Istället för att låta som Sapfo så låter han som (hör och häpna) ENGELSKA LYRISKA POETER. För det andra så blir det så pajigt när han först klagar på tidigare översättningar pga att de inte är formstrikta, för att sen helt överge den sapfiska strofen, och därtill skriva på rim (igen: Sapfo skrev inte på rim). Han borde ha lite förtroende för sina läsare.Och slutligen (och här faller det som annars kanske hade kunnat räddas): Poochigian är inte någon vidare rimmare. Vad sägs tillexempel om de här rim-paren: Double - Amiable / Stomach - Back / Gauzy - Hazy / Shiver - Fever / Sallow - Follow ?Detta är den minst sapfiska Sapfo jag träffat i år, och känns deppigt att många säkert har köpt denna och sen nöjt sig med den.

  • Darran Mclaughlin
    2018-12-21 23:07

    It's difficult to offer any real opinion about this work. What fragments have been preserved are beautiful and Sappho was venerated by Greek and Roman authorities who had access to a much wider range of her work. Her work is strikingly personal and subjective, describing sights and smells, feelings and emotions with a vividness and directness which stands in contrast to the epic poetry of Homer. This is why her poetry has lost none of it's appeal and can still be read by people today with unfeigned enjoyment. It is an amazing experience to read an author who lived and died over 2500 years ago in whom we can easily recognize the same thoughts and feelings that we experience today. I felt the same when I first encountered the poetry of Catullus and I see from reading the introduction that Sappho was a major influence on Catullus and Horace, who both continued and developed the lyric mode in contrast to the epic mode pursued after Homer by Hesiod, Virgil, Lucretius and Ovid.

  • Rachel
    2019-01-17 17:37

    I absolutely loved these. I found some of the fragments so moving and so poignant. It truly amazes me that something written by a woman so separated from us by time and culture, a world away, really, can still hit so close to home. It sounds so strange but I feel so close to Sappho after reading only a handful of her poems, like I know her personally - if only we had more of her work available to us today!

  • dathomira
    2018-12-27 20:33

    i liked carsons translation better but the notes and the explanation for why it was translated the way it was were fine

  • Oneflwover
    2019-01-15 17:19

    "I don't know what the right course is;Twofold are my purposes."

  • Mentai
    2018-12-27 22:15


  • Brittany
    2019-01-10 16:16

    It is unfortunate that so little of Sappho's writing is preserved/known. This book left me wanting to read so much more.

  • Stone
    2019-01-06 00:36

    This Penguin Classic version is by far my favourite version of Sappho's Poems and Fragments. The translation was accurate and poetic at the same time, preserving as much original flavour as possible without appearing affected or unnatural. Furthermore, the complementary analysis really added a lot more background stories and relevant knowledge to the otherwise unadorned poems. One big reason I find it usually hard to appreciate poems is the lack of empathy, often due to the disconnection to the author's historical background. The era which Sappho lived in, for instance, was a memory lost in time, relevant to the name used by historians to designate it -- "Greek Dark Ages". It was deemed "dark" not because of its lack of arts and culture but rather the lack of cultural and artistic heritages that survived to this day. Sappho's poems, for hundreds of years, were heavily purged by the Catholic church; while thousands of songs, ballads, fables, odes, and rhymes from Sappho's time weren't recorded simply because of the absence of writing. During Sappho's lifetime, the society of her native Lesbos was predominantly preliterate, making any efforts of preserving poems that last generations impossible. The fact that we are able to glimpse at about 10% of her works is already an amazing reality, and it certainly bestows additional values upon these fragmented poems. As of the poems per se, I believe it is a highly subjective matter of making a judgement, especially given the versatile nature of Sappho's work. There are, however, some patterns that we all observe -- love, passion, and moodiness. To me, what really makes Sappho's poems stand out is its plain and truthful expression of human emotions. We often think of humanism as an early modern product, whereas in fact it has always been in the minds of poets, musicians, balladeers, writers, artisans, and craftsmen for thousands of years. Artists from millennia ago probably never heard of individual values, civil liberty, and personal privacy -- could it simply be because there wasn't so much systematic oppressions dictated by lords, kings, emperors, and churches? It's a thought-provoking question indeed.

  • Drew
    2019-01-08 19:07

    I really enjoyed Sappho’s poetry via this edition with a preface by Carol Ann Duffy and notes and commentary by Aaron Poochigian. Duffy tells us of Sappho’s impact on so many, including Plato, Catullus, Horace, Ovid, Donne, Pope, Coleridge, Byron, Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, and today’s writers. Over 2,600 years of impact is pretty impressive. Horace said that Sappho’s poems merited sacred admiration and Plato honored her as the 10th Muse (p. vii). I couldn’t agree more.So much of her writing was lost during before the common era started, but even what little remains has such presence and impact. In the 3rd and 2nd century BCE, Sappho’s remaining works were collected into 9 books (p. xliii). Cicero, Catullus and Horace would have had access to these works but by the 12th-14th c. CE, her works were almost gone. SWhat remains of her works today are fragments here and there as well as some summaries, commentaries and quotes from other classical authors which have survived.Poochigian has a facing page for each translated fragment that situates the poem. Even better, for those of us who care about language, he tries to explain his translation project, referring to the original Greek (when it is known) and telling us the choices he makes and does not make. This slowed my reading a bit, but it added so much wondrous context. Some of this would be the context that Plato, Aristotle and Horace knew as common knowledge that influenced their thoughts on her work. In his introduction, Poochigian says “Sappho is important because she gives a fully human voice to female desire for the first time in Western literature” (p. xxxix). This is partly a reference to Fragment 16, which was my favorite piece (pp. 58-59). It tells the story of Helen of Troy, not as a passive object stolen by Paris but as an active agent who chooses to leave her husband and follow her own desire. Not only is the poem wonderful, but the discussion of the translation on the facing page is so interesting.

  • Daisy
    2019-01-18 20:21

    Quality Rating: Five StarsEnjoyment Rating: Five StarsSappho is commonly credited as the first female poet in literary history, and one of the only female writers in the classical world to be seen as worthy of study during Antiquity. Even looking past her cultural and historical significance, Sappho is a beautiful and important poet. Her language and integration of the religion and everyday life in Ancient Greece is not only masterful, but amazingly stunning. Her ability to communicate familiar feelings and reactions across centuries gave me pure shivers at points. It's a tragedy that so little of her poetry survives, but goes to show just how skilled she was: tiny fragments of her works hold ample meaning, cultural exploration and emotion. There are few poets that I've read that you could take a couple of lines from and still preserve so much in. This collection specifically is well suited to readers who are not so familiar with the society and culture of classical Greece, as it has easy-to-manage analysis and context on the opposite side of the page to each poem - though Sappho's work on its own is just as enjoyable alone.

  • Autumn
    2019-01-13 21:20

    It might be one of the greatest literary tragedies that most of Sappho's work only exists in fragments.Sappho's poetry is lush and gorgeous, and any reading transports the reader to her world of flowers, celestial beings, and, of course, girls - all topics in which Sappho's clear adoration for drives her work. Though I have few wishes greater than being able to see Sappho's full works, the fragments themselves still serve as beautifully poignant snippets. I, in short, adore Sappho. Really, she's just one of my favorite poets of all time and words cannot express the love I have for her. This book captures the fragments, paired with commentary providing contextualization which greatly aids the work as a whole. Though this is not a complete book of her surviving works, it captures some of the most important and beautiful pieces of her work. Many compilations exist of Sappho's poetry, but this contextualization paired with each fragment and the loving piecing together of the poetry would definitely make this one I'd recommend to both those new to Sappho and lovers of her alike!

  • Kerry
    2018-12-30 20:33

    The mystery of Sappho is revealed and reveled in within the context of the commentary that handily accompanies each poem, while her style, literary sophistication, and careful compositional choices are celebrated. The annotations are helpful even when they remind us of what we do not know about Sappho, her life, or the lost poems or parts of poems. What has drifted to the surface is evidence of the complex social interplay that took place within her time and geographic scope and how the Greeks dealt with these forces through song. But something else: a female voice that comes to us, centuries later, embodied with laughter, self-assurance, artistry, and embrasure of human emotion in all of its subtle gradations, using shifting point of view and choral effect to layer implications into words already imbued with multiple meanings.

  • Fitore
    2019-01-18 20:34

    I appreciate Aaron Poochigian's ardor towards capturing Sappho's songlike essence, but found his parlance to be tedious and boring. Throughout the book he substitutes "lost" words he *believes* would be best fitting,which to me is thoroughly uninteresting. Sappho's poetry is betrayed by the stress-based, poetic rhythms of English, and A.P's attempts to salvage them (and by extension Sappho herself) often feel awkward. A. P snubs free-form translations, but I ultimately, personally, have a far deeper affection for Anne Carson's "If Not, Winter" - her fragmented translation of Sappho is authentic and emotive, whereas A.P's translation feels jarring and clinical. Aside from the poetry itself, the accompanying annotations were an enchanting and insightful and I would read the book for that alone.

  • Bill FromPA
    2019-01-18 22:32

    Very good, as far as it goes, but a book so sparsely populated with texts should have included more fragments. For example, there is a 15 word fragment, longer than many Poochigian does include, and the last line of which he actually quotes in the introduction, which was included in Carl Orff's Trionfo Di Afrodite: Whiter than milk,more delicate than water,sweeter-sounding than the lyre.More high-spirited than a mare,more fragile than roses,softer than a fine robe,More golden than gold ... (translation by Patricia Bird) Postscriptum: The Orff version may be a filling out by other hands, as only the third and last lines are included as Lobel-Page 156 inthis website.

  • charlotte
    2019-01-10 18:23

    4 stars for the poetry but minus 1 bc of the book like i dont want a freaking analysis of every damn fragment i just wanna read the poems & also the editing was so bad u cant tell where one fragment ends & the next begins fuck i mean u cant even tell which bits are sappho & which arent & when hes moving on from talking about one fragment to another ://

  • Harry Smith
    2018-12-26 18:24

    Fantastically in depth context discussion from the translator, along with explanations of his choices as a translator with words that do not easily transfer into English. A great intro to Sappho and any Greek Poetry.

  • Alexandra
    2018-12-30 18:26


  • bleh.
    2019-01-09 00:27

    sappho has lovely prose and i love queer history

  • Macinly Fram
    2019-01-13 18:18

    "Peace, you never seemed so tediousAs now - no, never quite like this." Big mood.

  • Katie
    2018-12-26 23:10

    About:Stung with Love: Poems and Fragments is a poetry collection that contains all of the ancient Greek poet Sappho’s poems. Sappho’s poems were written sometime between 630 B.C and 570 B.C. This particular edition and translation by Aaron Poochigian was published in 2009. Sappho’s poetry is very sensual and centers on themes such as desire, goddesses, her family, marriage, women in her life etc. Did I Like It?:Yes I really liked this collection! I’ve read some of Sappho’s poetry before and loved it so much I had to read all of it. Her poetry is great and I love the time and place it evokes and the strong feelings of desire that run through some poems that years later I can still relate to. There’s something about Sappho’s poetry that I find so wonderful because I feel connected to it years and years later after it’s been written and it’s crazy to think how much it’s withstood the test of time. It feels beautiful to feel that I can connect with a person and their feelings who lived so long ago and it gives me the feeling of timelessness. Overall, her poetry is great and it’s so interesting to read about life from Sappho’s perspective in her little world on Lesbos in ancient Greece and to read about thoughts and feelings that are still entirely relevant today. Also, I really liked this edition because on the left side of each poem there was a little blurb about it that put it into perspective. Would I Recommend It?:Most definitely! If you have any interest in poetry or in ancient literature I urge you to pick up Sappho’s poems.

  • Monty Milne
    2019-01-16 16:09

    Those reading Sappho in the hopes of finding some lubricious lesbianism will be disappointed. There is nothing here which would have caused my paternal grandmother to so much as raise an eyebrow, and she was so politically and morally reactionary as to consider Genghis Khan a dangerous social liberal. Sappho, as the introduction notes, is largely a literary construct. What we do have are some tantalising fragments, often rescued from papier-maché wadding used in the lining of old coffins. Their incompleteness is a large part of their appeal - to contemporary tastes - because this engenders wistfulness for what has been irretrievably lost, as well as nostalgic regret for our own lost loves and vanished past."How could a person fail to ache, Queen Kypris, always for the oneshe loves and, more than anythingwishes to welcome back again?Please keep your eagerness in checksince you have called me here in vainto stab...desire...release...offspring..."The commentary on this - the last poem in the book - is, to my mind, a moving epitaph on the entire oeuvre:"As the papyrus turns to tatters, the last four legible words are increasingly intense..."

  • Blake
    2019-01-17 19:24

    What's finest in these fragments must have been exquisite to behold in the unscratched originals, because the poet's talent is visible enough even in these miniscule presentations. Some of the pieces are so small that they barely form coherent ideas and when they do there is no context or location in which to place them. Still, they have a strange authenticity to what they portray.The poet's strengths are in originating the vivid poetical paintings of the emotional life. She achieved this through natural imagery and linguistic smoothness, but she was also strangly at home in the Homeric hexameter and the examples of her versatility are plentiful even in the small amount that constitutes this volume.Almost as interesting as the poetry is how it survived through the years. Some of these fragments were found on mummy cartonnage and one was even got from the interior of a mummified crocodile. The historical notes and trivia are well worth the read, even for those whose interest lies elsewhere than poetry.

  • rodolfo
    2019-01-07 00:09

    *4.5/5 stars* I really enjoyed these poem and fragments. But because this is my first taste of Ancient Greek literature, I know there were some references that were lost on me. Regardless, it was fascinating to experience Ancient Greece through Sappho's eyes. I love the personality I have in my head for her (which is supported the text). I see her as a intellectual lesbian poet who loves material things and everything to be extravagant. And there is something about that that appeals to me so much?? Like she feels very close to what I would imagine myself if I lived in Ancient Greece. Overall really enjoyed this and I can't wait to read more Ancient Greek literature and come back to this to fully understand everything.

  • Lauren
    2019-01-20 20:25

    I've never read Sappho before, and this book was a great introduction to who she was and her poetry. The book starts with some introductions and notes about the history of Sappho's work being translated. After this are the poem translations, each accompanied by notes explaining allusions and translation choices. The poems themselves were enjoyable to read, but so were the notes. The tone Aaron Poochigian takes is somewhat relaxed and friendly, not too scholarly and stiff. Overall, definitely enjoyable.