Thursday, July 14, 2005

More translations of the "new" Sappho poem

Firstly, Happy Bastille Day all! I'm not going to have a long schpiel about how it relates to Classics, because while I enjoy studying the French Revolution, it's not really my specialty.

Anyway, somebody on the Classics-L list just posted about more translations of the New Sappho poem. They can be found in this article in the TLS.

Here are the translations:

Sappho to Her Pupils

Live for the gifts the fragrant-breasted Muses
send, for the clear, the singing, lyre, my children.
Old age freezes my body, once so lithe,
rinses the darkness from my hair, now white.
My heart’s heavy, my knees no longer keep me
up through the dance they used to prance like fawns in.
Oh, I grumble about it, but for what?
Nothing can stop a person’s growing old.
They say that Tithonus was swept away
in Dawn’s passionate, rose-flushed arms to live
forever, but he lost his looks, his youth,
failing husband of an immortal bride.


Sappho and the Weight of Years

Girls, be good to these spirits of music and poetry
that breast your threshold with their scented gifts.
Lift the lyre, clear and sweet, they leave with you.

As for me, this body is now so arthritic
I cannot play, hardly even hold the instrument.
Can you believe my white hair was once black?

And oh, the soul grows heavy with the body.
Complaining knee-joints creak at every move.
To think I danced as delicate as a deer!

Some gloomy poems came from these thoughts:
useless: we are all born to lose life,
and what is worse, girls, to lose youth.

The legend of the goddess of the dawn
I’m sure you know: how rosy Eos
madly in love with gorgeous young Tithonus

swept him like booty to her hiding-place
but then forgot he would grow old and grey
while she in despair pursued her immortal way.


My Greek isn't good enough to offer commentary on which translation is "better," but I have to admit that I liked the way Martin West ended it best. Edwin Morgan does a good job too. I just don't think Lachlan MacKinnon's emphasises the contrast and old age enough. Actually, what I really liked was the way Diane J. Rayor translated it (from the section we originally had) as "old age seized him," which is also the way Jane McIntosh Snyder translates it.


Anonymous cialis online said...

I'm not really a poetic person or something like that but this one is very sad, i mean the person how wrote this was a very depressed person.

10:00 AM  

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