poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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 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
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
2
poem

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

2