Poems and Fragments
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Poems and Fragments

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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  864 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Little remains today of the writings of the archaic Greek poet Sappho (fl. late 7th and early 6th centuries B.C.E.), whose work is said to have filled nine papyrus rolls in the great library at Alexandria some 500 years after her death. The surviving texts consist of a lamentably small and fragmented body of lyric poetry--among them, poems of invocation, desire, spite, cel...more
Paperback, 68 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by Hackett (first published September -600)
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Robert
This book collects the entire known surviving works of the Greek poet, Sappho, who managed to cause her native island of Lesbos to become permanently associated with female homosexuality and have her own name modified into an adjective. Unfortunately for such an influential woman, her extant works sum to a slim volume of fragments from larger poems. This seems to be a great loss, as what does remain is remarkable.

Sappho famously dealt with the love and life of women as seriously as Homer dealt w...more
Elliot
My maturation as a reader has been as delightful as it has been frightening, because I have come to recognize the characteristic of ultimate intangibility in most texts. By that, I mean that most literature has both a static and a fluid quality -- there is no final meaning to a text, because both the societies that read texts and we as individuals are constantly changing, and the way we read grows along with that. Interpretations of literature can be modified retroactively by distant works (the...more
Zelda
I prepared for my reading of Sappho by making sure I had another book with me at all times behind which I could hide my actual reading. Such was my belief in the myth of Sappho as the writer of toe-curling, girl-on-girl erotica. Imagine my disappointment surprise to learn that the few fragments that we have of Sappho's writing are impossibly tame. You have to have a LOT of historical context and take a pretty huge leap of faith to read these poems as dirty.

But you don't have to read into them t...more
Max Maxwell
Apr 13, 2009 Max Maxwell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historically-inclined hypersensitive poets
Recommended to Max by: Harold Bloom (well, the author, anyway)
Ancient Greece was pretty emo. Whether it's lines like "There's a hole burning inside of me" (from Euripides' Medea , and source of Courtney Love's band's name), or the whole effeminate guys thing, or the quick-to-anger, quick-to-get-emotional attitude of goddesses like Artemis and Hera, the whole body of literature sits pretty nicely next to Brand New's discography. As we all know, emo kids seem to enjoy poetry involving words like "heart" and "feelings," so maybe they'd be interested in taking...more
Darran Mclaughlin
It's difficult to offer any real opinion about this work. What fragments have been preserved are beautiful and Sappho was venerated by Greek and Roman authorities who had access to a much wider range of her work. Her work is strikingly personal and subjective, describing sights and smells, feelings and emotions with a vividness and directness which stands in contrast to the epic poetry of Homer. This is why her poetry has lost none of it's appeal and can still be read by people today with unfeig...more
Hamish
The Greeks thought Sappho was a great poet and they were probably correct, I'm not going to dispute this, but it's hard to tell reading only these fragments. Not only are all but one of the poems incomplete, they're also translated, so they're already two generations away from being read the way Sappho presumably intended. Sure, they're enjoyable and there's a certain pleasure in reading and savoring an individual line, but are the lines great in and of themselves, or would random lines and phra...more
Helena
I repeat: THANK YOU CARO.

Sappho is nostalgia. I am rarely nostalgic about secondary school, but I am about Sappho. I admit that, at the time, I still had no idea how much my favorite poetess would come to mean to me, but all the same I enjoyed the poems at the time. Even though they were fragmented. Even though they were about a completely different world.

And yet. I can still read a Sappho poem and feel touched by it, even though it was written more than a millennium ago. Which, yes, has someth...more
Matthew
I am biased. I wish I was reading her poems in Greek. Now that I am learning ancient Greek, English here feels anachronistic. I think this is probably a great book but I am blinded by my passion for the native language.
Rhys
The Ancient Greeks claimed that Sappho was one of their best poets. It seems wise to accept this judgment on trust. The problem is that not enough of her work has survived to make any profound statements about the quality and originality of her work, and certainly not about her life. It's slightly bizarre that so much has been read into her personal life (and inclinations) on the basis of these tiny scraps of surviving verse. Very little can be said. She was reckoned in olden days to be one of t...more
Julia Boechat Machado
Excelente edição bilíngue da Ars Poética. Tradução de Pedro Alvim.
“O doce Adônis morreu, Afrodite: que fazer?
- Flagelai, moças, os vossos seios,
rasgai, amigas, as vossas vestes”.
Oneflwover
"I don't know what the right course is;
Twofold are my purposes."
Michael Palkowski
Sappho is a literary construct, mythological more than tangible as her oeuvre consists of a single surviving poem with other fragments derived from scraps of parchment or quotations from other authors most of whom reproduced the work with the understanding that the reader probably knew the passage in question. Her life is a complicated set of identities and ideas supplanted onto a literary output. The introduction of the book delineates this quite well by discussing the various voyages and liter...more
Blake
What's finest in these fragments must have been exquisite to behold in the unscratched originals, because the poet's talent is visible enough even in these miniscule presentations. Some of the pieces are so small that they barely form coherent ideas and when they do there is no context or location in which to place them. Still, they have a strange authenticity to what they portray.

The poet's strengths are in originating the vivid poetical paintings of the emotional life. She achieved this throug...more
Black&white
Fragments is sure an apt title here since of most poems we only have loose words left and no longer even entire sentences which makes the whole appear shockingly modern to the reader these days. Given the condition of the whole you would expect this to be only of academic value and still what remains here is really beautiful and vibrant and makes it a real tragedy that we lost so much here. These words are so beautiful still.
Leila Anani
This is a rather nice edition of Sappho: the fragments are laid out clearly in section by theme; love, desire, despair, marriage, mother and daughter, the goddess of love, religion, poetry and the muses, nature and wisdom and there are simple b/w illustrations.

Its really easy to navigate, has a useful introduction, translation notes, chronology and short bibliography.
Krystyne
I read her poems and fragments in first year at college and then again in more detail at University through taking Classic courses. Although lot of her work is fragmented which can make it confusing for the reader to understand what context she means. It's fun to speculate though. I have quite a crush on her!
Timothy Ferguson
It’s hard to like Sappho. I know, I know, I’m being horrible. She’s an early feminist icon and she was a great poet and all of that sort of thing, but we have only one poem of hers in complete form, and the rest of the fragments have been so deeply mined by other poets that its hard to see where she’s being original. Sure, the first time someone said that moonlight was like silver that was mindblowing stuff…and it may well have been her, but her metaphors are tired now, and her work is so fragme...more
Marts  (Thinker)
A collection of poems by the Greek poet, Sappho, of the island of Lesbos. Many of Sappho's poems dealt with love and admiration for other women.


Lauren
I've never read Sappho before, and this book was a great introduction to who she was and her poetry. The book starts with some introductions and notes about the history of Sappho's work being translated. After this are the poem translations, each accompanied by notes explaining allusions and translation choices. The poems themselves were enjoyable to read, but so were the notes. The tone Aaron Poochigian takes is somewhat relaxed and friendly, not too scholarly and stiff. Overall, definitely enj...more
Nikki
It's such a shame that what remains of this poetry is so fragmentary, because of her imagery is so amazingly beautiful. I especially liked #115:

[. . . like frightened doves:]
whose hearts turn to ice
whose wings falter . . .

And I also liked the relatively whole poem, #78, asking Aphrodite to intervene in a love affair.

I haven't read any other translation to compare these to, but these translations seem nice enough.
Frank Ashe
I read this as part of my continuing education. I guess she's better in the original Greek.

The amazing thing is that her work and reputation has lasted over 2 500 years. I would love to meet her.
Frightful_elk
Surprisingly little survives of Sappho's poetry, but there are many intensely beautiful fragments. It is also worth reading the introduction, as it's hard to appreciate the impact of her work, and the number of images she introduced - including being the first to describe the moon as silver.
Emily
Sappho was one of the first female writers of, I believe, the classical Greek period. While many of her poems are mere fragments, we are able to see a better depiction of women and understand a broader perspective of the people of ancient Greece.
Jillybeans983
Lombardo's translations are brilliant. His use of language is so effortlessly lyrical, it's hard to believe this is a translation and not the original language. I would also recommend his translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Fred
devastating lesbian pedophilia:
Long since I loved thee, at what time
I too was in my girlhood's prime:
A little child thou seemest then,
Atthis, nor marriage-ripe for men.
Maria
These fragments are beautiful. I read this in a Greek Culture and Literature class and LOVED it.
Amy
Lombardo does it again. Unbelievably beautiful and resonant, miles and centuries away.
Bonnie
Beautiful translations. The introduction was very informative and worthwhile as well.
Deb White
Reminds me of finding pottery shards and studying ancient paintings.

Jenny
I'm well inspired and seek to find a "complete" works by Sappho.
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59712
Sappho (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 greatly admire...more
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