Dec 272016
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is that holy fire, which verse is said
To have? Is that enchanting force decay’d?
Verse that draws nature’s works from nature’s law,
Thee, her best work, to her work cannot draw.
Have my tears quench’d my old poetic fire?
Why quench’d they not as well that of desire?
Thoughts, my mind’s creatures, often are with thee,
But I, their maker, want their liberty.
Only thine image in my heart doth sit,
But that is wax, and fires environ it.
My fires have driven, thine have drawn it hence;
And I am robb’d of picture, heart, and sense.
Dwells with me still mine irksome memory,
Which, both to keep and lose, grieves equally.
That tells me how fair thou art; thou art so fair
As gods, when gods to thee I do compare,
Are graced thereby; and to make blind men see,
What things gods are, I say they’re like to thee.
For if we justly call each silly man
A little world, what shall we call thee then?
Thou art not soft, and clear, and straight, and fair,
As down, as stars, cedars, and lilies are;
But thy right hand, and cheek, and eye, only
Are like thy other hand, and cheek, and eye.
Such was my Phao awhile, but shall be never,
As thou wast, art, and O, mayst thou be ever.
Here lovers swear in their idolatry,
That I am such; but grief discolours me.
And yet I grieve the less, lest grief remove
My beauty, and make me unworthy of thy love.

John Donne, Sappho to Philaenis

Jan 052011
 

Shimmering-throned immortal Aphrodite,
Daughter of Zeus, Enchantress, I implore thee,
Spare me, O queen, this agony and anguish,
Crush not my spirit

Whenever before thou has hearkened to me–
To my voice calling to thee in the distance,
And heeding, thou hast come, leaving thy father’s
Golden dominions,

With chariot yoked to thy fleet-winged coursers,
Fluttering swift pinions over earth’s darkness,
And bringing thee through the infinite, gliding
Downwards from heaven,

Then, soon they arrived and thou, blessed goddess,
With divine contenance smiling, didst ask me
What new woe had befallen me now and why,
Thus I had called the.

What in my mad heart was my greatest desire,
Who was it now that must feel my allurements,
Who was the fair one that must be persuaded,
Who wronged thee Sappho?

For if now she flees, quickly she shall follow
And if she spurns gifts, soon shall she offer them
Yea, if she knows not love, soon shall she feel it
Even reluctant.

Come then, I pray, grant me surcease from sorrow,
Drive away care, I beseech thee, O goddess
Fulfil for me what I yearn to accomplish,
Be thou my ally.

Sappho

Aug 022010
 

That man seems to me peer of gods,
who sits in thy presence,
and hears close to him
thy sweet speech

and lovely laughter; that indeed
makes my heart flutter in my bosom.
For when I see thee but a little,
I have no utterance left,

my tongue is broken down,
and straightway a subtle fire has run under my skin,
with my eyes I have no sight,
my ears ring,

sweat pours down, and a trembling
seizes all my body; I am paler than grass,
and seem in my madness little better
than one dead.

But I must dare all, since one so poor.

Sappho, Fragment 31