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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
Some say thronging cavalry, some say foot soldiers, 
others call a fleet the most beautiful of 
sights the dark earth offers, but I say it's what-
            ever you love best.

And it's easy to make this understood by 
everyone, for she who surpassed all human 
kind in beauty, Helen, abandoning her
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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
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poem

 

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