Sapphic Poems

by Φ

Selections from Poems of Sappho


When anger floods my chest
I bite my tongue, not to bark.


To me he seems like a god
the man who sits facing you
and hears you near as you speak
softly and laugh

in a sweet echo that jolts
the heart in my ribs. For now
as I look at you my voice
is empty and

can say nothing as my tongue
cracks and slender fire is quick
under my skin. My eyes are dead
to light, my ears

pound, and sweat pours over me.
I convulse, greener than grass,
and feel my mind slip as I
go close to death,
yet I must suffer all things,
being poor.

Impossible Yet

Impossible for it
to happen, for her
to come,
yet I pray for the surprise
of sharing, among all
people, her.


I long and hunger,
my pain drips.


I couldn’t hope
to touch the sky
with my two arms.


I will lay down
the limbs of my body on softest

Exhortation to Learning

A handsome man guards his image a while;
a good man will one day take on beauty.

Wealth & Virtue

Wealth without virtue is no harmless neighbor.
Blend them and walk the peak of happiness.


You ask for little,
you are carried away by what is sweet
and know about it
and comes the forgetting.

Someone might say no
but I shall love
as long as there is breath in me.
That’s my way.

I say I’ve been a steady friend.
I’ve had grief and bitterness
yet I know this (and it’s better)
I shall love.

Pigeons Playing Dead

The hearts in the pigeons grow cold
and the wings drop to their sides.

End of a Party

has tossed peace into confusion.
The mind
Yet come, my friends,
for soon it will be day.


Do I still long for my virginity?


Don’t try to bend a crazed heart.


In gold sandals
dawn like a thief
fell upon me.

Where Are We?

Soft girl,
once more I
have wandered.

To an Ignorant Woman Who Lacks the Flowers Invented by the Muses

When you lie dead no one will remember
or miss you, for you have no share in the roses.
Unseen here and in the house of Hades,
you’ll flitter invisible among the dark corpses.

To a Handsome Man

If you are my friend, stand up before me
and scatter the grace that’s in your eyes.


Rubbing its wings incessantly,
a cicada pours flaming summer
over the earth
in luminous song.

Time of Youth

How one day you will remember
that we too did things
in our youth,

many and beautiful things,
and in the city
we feel them sharply,

live near the boldness
of a man and hear
a fine small voice.


O dream on your black wings
you come when I am sleeping.

Sweet is the god but I am
in agony and far from my strength,

for I had hope (none now) to share
something of the blessed gods,

nor was I so foolish
as to scorn pleasant toys.

Now may I have
all these things.


Now in my heart I see clearly
a beautiful face shining,
etched by love.

No Oblivion

Someone, I tell you,
will remember us.