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  • Translation


We are proud to present a selection of original translations of ancient Greek poet Sappho by Michael R. Burch. While only fragments of Sappho's poetry remain, the gripping intensity of the writing makes her stand out as one of the greatest poets of ancient Greece.

Sappho, fragment 47 (Lobel-Page 47 / Voigt 47 / Diehl 50 / Bergk 42 / Cox 40) Eros harrows my heart: wild winds whipping desolate mountains, uprooting oaks.

Sappho, fragment 58

Pain drains me to the last drop


Sappho, fragment 16 (Lobel-Page 16)

Warriors on rearing chargers, columns of infantry, fleets of warships: some say these are the dark earth's redeeming visions. But I say— the one I desire.

And this makes sense because she who so vastly surpassed all mortals in beauty —Helen— seduced by Aphrodite, led astray by desire, set sail for distant Troy, abandoning her celebrated husband, leaving behind her parents and child! Her story reminds me of Anactoria, who has also departed, and whose lively dancing and lovely face I would rather see than all the horsemen and war-chariots of the Lydians, or all their infantry parading in flashing armor.

Sappho, fragment 52 (Voigt 168B / Diehl 94 / Cox 48) The moon has long since set; the Pleiades are gone; now half the night is spent, yet still I lie—alone.

Sappho, fragment 5

We're eclipsed here by your presence—you outshine all the ladies of Lydia as the bright-haloed moon outsplendors the stars.

Sappho, fragment 35 (Lobel-Page 52 / 47D/ Cox 35) With my two small arms how can I think to encircle the sky?

Michael R. Burch is the editor of The HyperTexts, on-line at, where he has published hundreds of poets over the past twenty years. His poetry has been translated into eleven languages and set to music by three composers. A five-time Pushcart nominee, his poems, translations and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary journals, including Light Quarterly, The Lyric, Measure, Iambs & Trochees, Blue Unicorn, The Chariton Review, The Chimaera, Able Muse, Lucid Rhythms, Poem Today, Asses of Parnassus, Writer’s Digest—The Year’s Best Writing and The Best of the Eclectic Muse.


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