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About this Poem 

This poem was published in Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics (Chatto and Windus, 1907), translated by Bliss Carman.

XII

In a dream I spoke with the Cyprus-born,
      And said to her,
"Mother of beauty, mother of joy,
Why hast thou given to men


"This thing called love, like the ache of a wound
      In beauty's side,
To burn and throb and be quelled for an hour
And never wholly depart?"

And the daughter of Cyprus said to me,
      "Child of the earth,
Behold, all things are born and attain,
But only as they desire,—

"The sun that is strong, the gods that are wise,
     The loving heart,
Deeds and knowledge and beauty and joy,—
But before all else was desire."

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Sappho

Sappho

Only a handful of details are known about the life of Sappho.

by this poet

poem
In my eyes he matches the gods, that man who 
sits there facing you--any man whatever--
listening from closeby to the sweetness of your 
          voice as you talk, the

sweetness of your laughter: yes, that--I swear it-- 
sets the heart to shaking inside my breast, since 
once I look at you for a moment, I can
2
poem
Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen 
on the black earth is an array of horsemen;
some, men marching; some would say ships; but I say
          she whom one loves best

is the loveliest. Light were the work to make this 
plain to all, since she, who surpassed in beauty
all mortality, Helen, once
poem
Like the very gods in my sight is he who 
sits where he can look in your eyes, who listens
close to you, to hear the soft voice, its sweetness
          murmur in love and

laughter, all for him. But it breaks my spirit; 
underneath my breast all the heart is shaken. 
Let me only glance where you are, the voice