"Deathless Aphrodite on your lavish throne"

(Sappho, Fragment 1)

translated by Peter Saint-Andre

Deathless Aphrodite on your lavish throne,
Enchantress, daughter of Zeus: I beg you, queen,
Do not overpower my soul with heartaches
   And hard troubles,

But come here, if ever at another time
Having heard my voice you paid me attention
And leaving the golden house of your father
   You came to me,

Yoking your horse and chariot: gorgeous swift
Sparrows carried you over the coal-black earth,
Thickly whirling their feathers through the midst of
   Heaven's ether.

Swiftly they arrived, and you, O blessed one,
Smiling with your immortal face, you asked for
What I suffered, and why again I call you,
And what in my maddened soul I desire most
To happen to me: what dearest one shall I now
Persuade to lead you back to her — who, O Sappho,
   Wronged you this time?

For even if she flees, swiftly she will pursue;
And if she does not receive my gifts, she will give;
And if she does not love me, swiftly she will love,
Even against her will. So come to my aid now,
Release me from my grievous cares, fulfill as much
As my heart yearns to be fulfilled: come, be my
   Fellow-fighter.


Peter Saint-Andre > Writings > Ancient Fire