Sappho Revisited: Favorite Fragments Sewn Together



This post is for someone who might be a lover of ancient poetry as well as new. I thought you might appreciate the transcendent quality of random Sappho fragments.  Sappho lived over 2,600 years ago in Greece and only portions of her poems exist: fragments.  Socrates, Plato and a host of other biggies, thought she was amazing.  She was know as the greatest poet and songwriter of her time.  But only scraps of parchment exist with phrases of her ancient Greek words.  So there are large gaps in the poetry.  

Anne Carson is a genius. Her translation titled If Not, Winter is beautiful and the work of a poet as well as artist.  The gaps are filled by using brackets [   ] and the spacing and layout is as important as the words.  The space within the space creates incredible understanding and beauty.  

As I read her poetry, I grabbed my favorite fragments – remember that no complete poems exist.  I believed that they could be formed into a contemporary poem simply by stringing them together; the space within the space filled in – sewn together.  Below are 27 favorite fragments, in fragment order, formatted as a new poem. The title comes from the final two fragments 177/187.  Amazing: 2,600 years later.    Thank you, Sappho and Anne Carson.

Transparent dress of the Muses

You came and I was crazy for you
And you cooled my mind that burned with longing
Gathered longing sweat

Might accomplish
I want to hold, said
Not desire, but all at once
Blossom desire too delight

Me more sweetly
And you yourself know
Forget you someone would say

And yes I shall love
As long as there is in me
Will be a care
I say I have been a strong lover

Of all the stars the most beautiful
Cloth dripping
Just now goldsandaled Dawn
I used to wear crowns

May you sleep on the breast of your delicate friend
But me you have forgotten
Or you love some man more than me
Eros the melter of limbs (now again) stirs me –

Sweet bitter unmanageable creature who steals in
I conversed with you in a dream
With what eyes?
Do not move stones

Moon has set
And Pleiades; middle
Night, the hour goes by,
Alone I lie.


If not, Winter by Anne Carson – translation from ancient Greek – kronn favorite fragments as a poem:

48, 74a, 74b, 74c, 76, 78, 88b, 104b, 119, 123, 125, 126, 129a, 129b, 130, 134, 145, 146, 147, 150, 153, 157, 158, 162, 168, 177, 187


  1. Absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing it.

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