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4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  3,284 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
These hundred poems and fragments constitute virtually all of Sappho that survives and effectively bring to life the woman whom the Greeks consider to be their greatest lyric poet. Mary Barnard's translations are lean, incisive, direct--the best ever published. She has rendered the beloved poet's verses, long the bane of translators, more authentically than anyone else in ...more
Soft Cover, 70 pages
Published September 18th 1986 by Neri Pozza (first published -600)
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(showing 1-30)
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Oct 24, 2013 Jenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little over a decade ago, I arrived at college. I was crazy about poetry, in the way that many teenage girls are crazy about poetry. My sentiments toward poetry were similar to the sentiments Horace expresses toward the sea god Poseidon in his "Ode to Pyrrha": I felt that poetry had, in a very personal and somewhat obscure way, saved my life, saved my sanity. To me, poetry was a sort of magnanimous taciturn Greek god who had ripped me out of the teeth of a hurricane and carried me to safety, a ...more
İlk kadın edebiyatçı olarak nitelendirilen Sappho'nun günümüze eksiksiz olarak maalesef tek bir şiiri ulaşmış. Bu kitapta Sappho'nun günümüze ulaşabilen şiir parçalarına yer verilmiş; fakat ne yazık ki çoğu şiirin neredeyse tek mısrasını okuyabiliyoruz. Keşke daha fazlasını okuyabilme imkânımız olsaymış...
Alice Lippart
Intimate, sensual and lovely. Loved it.
Feb 08, 2012 Shauna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
With his venom
and bittersweet

that loosener
of limbs, Love

strikes me down

Sappho. Her style was a sensual melody of love and yearning.

Sad to say, with the exception of a single poem available in its entirety, today we're left with only fragments of her original work. (view spoiler) Even sadder to say, this is -at least in part- down to the censorship of dick-headed close-minded scholars and church leader
Daniel Chaikin
Oct 12, 2016 Daniel Chaikin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
61. Sappho : A New Translation by Mary Barnard
with an introduction and notes by Dudley Fitts
composition: c ~612-570 bce,
translation 1958
format: 115 page paperback, University of California press, 2012
acquired: library
read: Oct 9
rating: 5

I had three hours to kill in a coffee shop - and The Argonautika, 3/4 done, was NOT calling. I picked this up instead to glance through and was first struck by fragment 6:
"I love that
which caresses
me. I believe

Love has his
share in the
Sun's brilliance
and virtu
Alma Q

If rumors are to be believed: the perfect pocket-size Sappho - and it is very sweet and compact. I like how cleanly Bernard has ordered and presented the poems, whether or not "cleanliness" is a quality that is actually consistent with the originals. Elegant and just lyric enough, it is not hard to believe these do convey us something of Sappho's voice.

I am curious about Anne Carson's renditions, though - but perhaps more so for her distinctive translational philosophy than the ancient cont
Marla Haasz
Jan 27, 2016 Marla Haasz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, favourites, poetry

I was going to leave this just at 4 stars in hopes that one day we will find complete poems by Sappho, conclusions to some of the fragments, meanings behind fragments but I instead decided that the beauty of Sappho's writing is the mystery and elusive phrasing. What did Sappho mean by X, what was Y about, who was Z about, and so on and so forth. I kind of like not knowing, it allows me to create and theorise on my own.

Barnard's translation was plain and easy to read, but I may pick up Anne
Dec 01, 2015 Shauna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not wild about poetry--I like people to say what they mean. And Sappho does just that, beautifully. Her poetry I can get behind.
Sep 13, 2016 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You may forget but

Let me tell you
this: someone in
some future time
will think of us

Beautiful, painful, evocative,sensual and lush are a few ways to describe Sappho's poetry. Even if we only have incomplete and broken fragments of her poetry, there is no absence of emotion.
Jun 26, 2011 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I’d be lying if I said that love isn’t one of my favorite subjects.

It’s obvious that Sappho is a wonderfully gifted poet. I wish that I could read the poems in their entirety, but sometimes the mystery of what is lost adds to their beauty. Who cannot wonder of what she speaks of in this fragment?:

“That was different.

My girlhood then
was in full bloom
and you—”

This is all we have, but it already speaks bounds of what it means to be young and in love.

Reading Barnard’s footnote, I may disagree with
Jul 01, 2015 Joey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of poetry that could turn a lady queer. That is to say, if poetry had that power. Only fragments exist of her poems, and yet the translator has managed to carry across the simple beauty of the essential lyric across quite well. Brava.

Both the foreword and afterword allude to the many rumors surrounding the Lesbian poet, although none about her disputed...lady-like tendencies, which reduced the material to yet another cold, straight reading.

"But Joey --" you begin, loosening yo
You may forget but

Let me tell you
this: someone in
some future time
will think of us

What a fantastic introduction to Sappho. In truth, I did not mind the highly fragmented nature of her poems; given the nature of modern poetry, I think we are in a better state of mind that any other time in history to appreciate the slightly disjointed and lyrical simplicity of her words. Marvelous.
Jun 13, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Greek mythology buffs, poetry people, people with little time to read
These poems are fabulous tiny nuggets. Very lyrical. I can't speak for the translation, never having read another translation, but I will say that I was impressed by how densely packed the poetry was, given that it's translated.

Here's a favorite:

I was so happy

Believe me, I
prayed that that
night might be
doubled for us

And also this one:

With his venom

and bittersweet

that loosener
of limbs, Love

strikes me down

And here's one I think everyone can relate to:

Sappho, when some fool

Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch
Jun 15, 2010 Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: verse

I confess that upon first encountering this volume I only thought the smaller fragments little nothings:


Rich as you are

Death will finish
you: afterwards no
one will remember

or want you: you
had no share in
the Pierian roses

You will flitter
invisible among
the indistinct dead
in Hell’s palace
darting fitfully

(Barnard’s note reads: “Stobaeus, anthologist. E(dmonds) 71. Plutarch tells us that this fragment was written to a “wealthy woman” of “no refinement or learning.” My text, from Quasimodo, 58.”)

Kate Lansky
I'll be honest - by and large, I prefer Latin poetry over Greek, at least when we're talking shorter works like these. This may in part be due to the fact that I studied Latin for years, and if you give me a book with Latin-English side-by-side, I will love you forever. It's a math puzzle in word form and it gives me tingles.

But Sappho is required reading for anyone interested in the Classical period. Now, it's been a while since I read Sappho, but the writing is beautiful - as long as you get
Jori Richardson
When I first flipped through this short book of Ancient Greek poetry, I was struck by a vague feeling of wary doubt that I would enjoy it. All of the poems were so short, and most that I glanced over seemed vague and pointless. However, I decided to read the entire book aloud to myself one day... And found myself swept away by the beautiful, delicate, femininely classical style of Sappho's writing.
I found that many of the short, fragmented poems were related to other poems that had come previous
Jason Kirk
Feb 28, 2014 Jason Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Barnard's translation of nearly all the extant poetry of Sappho still serves well, from its delicate fragments to the occasional onomatopoetic synaesthesia. Sappho, for those who aren't devotees (I even named a dog Sappho once), was the most famous poet and prodigal daughter of Lesbos, a Greek island whose etymological legacy has since been claimed by women who love women.

In his foreword, Dudley Fitts calls this work "exact translation." We've learned, in the half-century since its original
Jun 05, 2009 Meredith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
87 We know this much

Death is an evil;
we have the gods'
word for it; they too
would die if death
were a good thing

88 Say what you please

Gold is God's child;
neither worms nor
moths eat gold; it
is much stronger
than a man's heart.

94 You remind me

Of a very gentle
little girl I once
watched picking flowers

100 I have no complaint

Prosperity that
the golden Muses
gave me was no
delusion: dead, I
won't be forgotten.
Feb 02, 2012 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Sappho's poetry. I only wish there were more (complete)poems in existence. Her imagery is wonderful, making me feel as if I were in Greece during the 7th century alongside of her. Her language is clear and evocative. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in Ancient Greece and/or poetry.
Feb 10, 2008 Sarahmarie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I had first read Sappho from my college lit text, would have despised her as Victoriana garbage. This translation is sharp, sparse and poignant. An immortal like Sappho needs no filler for the gaps of lost text, and this translator does not try to fill them. beautiful.
Bridget Gambaiani
Apr 12, 2014 Bridget Gambaiani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently watched a documentary that included a section on Sappho. It intrigued me enough to check out her poetry. I’m not a connoisseur of poetry but I enjoyed this little book.
Jennifer Spiegel
I like to periodically read Sappho. An obvious wild woman!
Nov 22, 2016 le_fino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, greek-classic
We know relatively little about Sappho from the island of Lesbos in Greece. Her poetry is not explicitly homosexual despite her name being intimately associated with female homosexuality. That being said there is a delicious sensuality to her writing that transcends time and still can speak to use today. It is full of desire and love and beauty. What I like is how it brings alive the life in ancient Greece. Take for example the fabled Grecian urn which of course Keats wrote about in 1819. Here i ...more
Oct 25, 2016 kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, poetry
I love the poetry itself, but my only complaint is that there's at least one place where Barnard translates a love poem so that Sappho seems to be writing about a guy. In every other translation I've seen, the poem reads "slender Aphrodite has overcome me with longing for a girl" or "longing for a maiden" but Barnard translates this as "longing for that boy." Why? Sappho is the most iconic lesbian in history. It isn't a secret. Stop trying to "no homo" her and her poetry.
Dec 07, 2016 Zoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, bare translations of poems I already loved. Finished the whole thing in a few delectable hours. What can I say about the strange indisputable lingering quality of Sappho? I just never get tired of her words and her mystery.
Oct 26, 2016 Yasmine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm in love with this translation! I felt like it was easy to read and enjoy with friends. I've let so many people borrow it since I've gotten it.
Dec 24, 2016 محمد rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
أنني أحب ذلك الذي يداعبني
وأؤمن أن للحب نصيبا
من ألق الشمس
Michele Ellison
Sep 26, 2016 Michele Ellison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the only translation which I have read. I did enjoy the simple thoughts and clear language used in her poetry.
Keerthana Jayakumar
This made me want to be one of Diana's huntresses.
Danger Kallisti
Feb 18, 2008 Danger Kallisti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classicists, young women
Shelves: classics
The talent of Sappho was truly remarkable: she wrote a bunch of girlie love poems, and not only are they readable, they’re actually good.

Of course, some of this owes to the translation. Barnard makes clear the challenges of stitching together two-thousand-year-old lyric verse from scraps of papyrus which reappear in archaeological digs in the form of decoupage on sarcophagi. She also pointed out the problems in trying to accurately convey anything written in a language as vague and flexible as A
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  • The Complete Poems
  • Heroides
  • The Eclogues
  • The Odes of Horace
  • 7 Greeks
  • Greek Lyrics
  • Homeric Hymns
  • The Sixteen Satires
  • Idylls
  • Euripides V: Electra / The Phoenician Women / The Bacchae
  • The Tale of Sinuhe: And Other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940-1640 B.C.
  • The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan
  • The Selected Poems of Tu Fu
  • The Odes
  • Four Plays: The Clouds/The Birds/Lysistrata/The Frogs
  • Trilogy: The Walls Do Not Fall / Tribute to the Angels / The Flowering of the Rod
  • Poems of Akhmatova
  • Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4)
Sappho (Σαπφώ or Ψάπφω) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. In history and poetry texts, she is sometimes associated with the city of Mytilene on Lesbos; she was also said to have been born in Eresos, another city on Lesbos. Her birth was sometime between 630 BC and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and great ...more
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