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Poems and Fragments

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,055 ratings  ·  41 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, 96 pages
Published December 1st 1992 by Bloodaxe Books (first published -600)
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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
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
Max Maxwell
Apr 13, 2009 Max Maxwell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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 takin ...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
I absolutely loved these. I found some of the fragments so moving and so poignant. It truly amazes me that something written by a woman so separated from us by time and culture, a world away, really, can still hit so close to home. It sounds so strange but I feel so close to Sappho after reading only a handful of her poems, like I know her personally - if only we had more of her work available to us today!
Kyle Muntz
One of the best translations of Sappho I've read (I think this is something like six or seven?). I love that Lombardo embraces the brokenness of the text, so a lot of this feels a very modern, almost avant-garde take on Sappho, though it's been fascinating to see these same fragments translated again and again in such different ways.
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

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
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.
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”.
"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
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
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.
Thomas T.M. Wentonik
Fragments are to be read as notes in bottles (except bottles are restorative objects, unlike the shards of pottery on which some of these fragments were discovered). I'm really into this. *Big note to come back and read more Sappho and *read more about the 'lost lesbian histories' of Sappho, etc. Reconstructions a la Anne Carson's.

"The black sword of night in my eyes"
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
It is unfortunate that so little of Sappho's writing is preserved/known. This book left me wanting to read so much 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.

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
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.
Not much here, but what's here is good. There are many fragments: e.g., one of the poems is just for "like silver," which the translators have edited to "[The moon is] like silver." In a way, this is fortuitous: it helps the reader to savor every word of Sappho's poetry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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  • War Music: An Account of Books 1-4 and 16-19 of Homer's Iliad
  • Homeric Hymns
  • The Odes
  • Tales from Ovid: 24 Passages from the Metamorphoses
  • Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides
  • Catullus: The Complete Poems
  • On the Nature of the Gods. Academics
  • Idylls
  • Practice in Christianity (Writings, Vol 20)
  • The Death of King Arthur: A New Verse Translation
  • Helen in Egypt
  • The Complete Works: The Revised Oxford Translation, Vol. 2
  • The Suppliants
  • The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes
  • Parables and Paradoxes
  • The Poems
  • Men in the Off Hours
  • Selected Poetry
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
More about Sappho...
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho Sappho: A New Translation The Complete Poems Poems Come Close (Little Black Classics, #74)

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