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Best Famous Sappho Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Sappho poems. This is a select list of the best famous Sappho poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Sappho poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Sappho poems.

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by Christina Rossetti | |

Sappho

 I sigh at day-dawn, and I sigh
When the dull day is passing by.
I sigh at evening, and again I sigh when night brings sleep to men.
Oh! it were far better to die Than thus forever mourn and sigh, And in death's dreamless sleep to be Unconscious that none weep for me; Eased from my weight of heaviness, Forgetful of forgetfulness, Resting from care and pain and sorrow Thro' the long night that knows no morrow; Living unloved, to die unknown, Unwept, untended, and alone.


by Mary Darby Robinson | |

Sonnet IV: Why When I Gaze

 Why, when I gaze on Phaon's beauteous eyes,
Why does each thought in wild disorder stray?
Why does each fainting faculty decay,
And my chill'd breast in throbbing tumults rise?
Mute, on the ground my Lyre neglected lies,
The Muse forgot, and lost the melting lay;
My down-cast looks, my faultering lips betray,
That stung by hopeless passion,--Sappho dies!
Now, on a bank of Cypress let me rest;
Come, tuneful maids, ye pupils of my care,
Come, with your dulcet numbers soothe my breast;
And, as the soft vibrations float on air,
Let pity waft my spirit to the blest,
To mock the barb'rous triumphs of despair!


by Mary Darby Robinson | |

Sonnet XLII: Oh! Canst Thou Bear

 Oh! can'st thou bear to see this faded frame,
Deform'd and mangled by the rocky deep?
Wilt thou remember, and forbear to weep,
My fatal fondness, and my peerless fame?
Soon o'er this heart, now warm with passion's flame,
The howling winds and foamy waves shall sweep;
Those eyes be ever clos'd in death's cold sleep,
And all of Sappho perish, but her name!
Yet, if the Fates suspend their barb'rous ire,
If days less mournful, Heav'n designs for me!
If rocks grow kind, and winds and waves conspire,
To bear me softly on the swelling sea;
To Phoebus only will I tune my Lyre,
"What suits with Sappho, Phoebus suits with thee!"


by Mary Darby Robinson | |

Sonnet XXXV: What Means the Mist

 What means the mist opaque that veils these eyes;
Why does yon threat'ning tempest shroud the day?
Why does thy altar, Venus, fade away,
And on my breast the dews of horror rise?
Phaon is false! be dim ye orient Skies;
And let black Erebus succeed your ray;
Let clashing thunders roll, and lightning play;
Phaon is false! and hopeless Sappho dies!
"Farewell! my Lesbian love, you might have said,"
Such sweet remembrance had some pity prov'd,
"Or coldly this, farewell, Oh! Lesbian maid!"
No task severe, for one so fondly lov'd!
The gentle thought had sooth'd my wand'ring shade,
From life's dark valley, and its thorns remov'd!


by Mary Darby Robinson | |

Sonnet XXIII: To Aetnas Scorching Sands

 To AEtna's scorching sands my Phaon flies!
False Youth! can other charms attractive prove?
Say, can Sicilian loves thy passions move,
Play round thy heart, and fix thy fickle eyes,
While in despair the Lesbian Sappho dies?
Has Spring for thee a crown of poppies wove,
Or dost thou languish in th' Idalian grove,
Whose altar kindles, fann'd by Lover's sighs?
Ah! think, that while on AEtna's shores you stray,
A fire, more fierce than AEtna's, fills my breast;
Nor deck Sicilian nymphs with garlands gay,
While Sappho's brows with cypress wreaths are drest;
Let one kind word my weary woes repay,
Or, in eternal slumbers bid them rest.


by Mary Darby Robinson | |

Sonnet XXXIV: Venus! To Thee

 Venus! to thee, the Lesbian Muse shall sing,
The song, which Myttellenian youths admir'd, 
when Echo, am'rous of the strain inspir'd,
Bade the wild rocks with madd'ning plaudits ring!
Attend my pray'r! O! Queen of rapture! bring
To these fond arms, he, whom my soul has fir'd;
From these fond arms remov'd; yet, still desir'd,
Though love, exulting, spreads his varying wing!
Oh! source of ev'ry joy! of ev'ry care
Blest Venus! Goddess of the zone divine!
To Phaon's bosom, Phaon's victim bear;
So shall her warmest, tend'rest vows be thine!
For Venus, Sappho shall a wreath prepare,
And Love be crown'd, immortal as the Nine!


by Mary Darby Robinson | |

Sonnet XXIX: Farewell Ye Towring Cedars

 Farewell, ye tow'ring Cedars, in whose shade,
Lull'd by the Nightingale, I sunk to rest,
While spicy breezes hover'd o'er my breast
To fan my cheek, in deep'ning tints array'd;
While am'rous insects, humming round me, play'd,
Each flow'r forsook, of prouder sweets in quest;
Of glowing lips, in humid fragrance drest,
That mock'd the Sunny Hybla's vaunted aid!
Farewell, ye limpid rivers! Oh! farewell!
No more shall Sappho to your grots repair;
No more your white waves to her bosom swell,
Or your dank weeds, entwine her floating hair;
As erst, when Venus in her sparry cell
Wept, to behold a brighter goddess there!


by Mary Darby Robinson | |

Sonnet V: O! How Can Love

 O! How can LOVE exulting Reason queil!
How fades each nobler passion from his gaze!
E'en Fame, that cherishes the Poet's lays,
That fame, ill-fated Sappho lov'd so well.
Lost is the wretch, who in his fatal spell Wastes the short Summer of delicious days, And from the tranquil path of wisdom strays, In passion's thorny wild, forlorn to dwell.
O ye! who in that sacred Temple smile Where holy Innocence resides enshrin'd; Who fear not sorrow, and who know not guile, Each thought compos'd, and ev'ry wish resign'd; Tempt not the path where pleasure's flow'ry wile In sweet, but pois'nous fetters, holds the mind.


by Edna St Vincent Millay | |

To S. M.

 If he should lie a-dying

I AM not willing you should go 
Into the earth, where Helen went; 
She is awake by now, I know.
Where Cleopatra's anklets rust You will not lie with my consent; And Sappho is a roving dust; Cressid could love again; Dido, Rotted in state, is restless still; You leave me much against my will.


by Dorothy Parker | |

Song Of One Of The Girls

 Here in my heart I am Helen;
I'm Aspasia and Hero, at least.
I'm Judith, and Jael, and Madame de Stael; I'm Salome, moon of the East.
Here in my soul I am Sappho; Lady Hamilton am I, as well.
In me Recamier vies with Kitty O'Shea, With Dido, and Eve, and poor Nell.
I'm of the glamorous ladies At whose beckoning history shook.
But you are a man, and see only my pan, So I stay at home with a book.


by Jennifer Reeser | |

Civilization

 Send your army home to their wives and children.
It is late.
Your soldiers are burdened, thirsty.
Lock the doors, the windows, and here in darkness lie down beside me.
Speak of anything we possess in common: ground or law or sense.
Only speak it softly.
Spiders crawl the crevices.
Violent voices ruin their balance, and they’ll fall – intuit – upon our faces, where I fear them most.
But you’ve heard this terror, and my midnight phobias always move you – cause to remain here.
Leave a light still burning, in some far wall sconce.
Tuck one rebel end of the flat sheet under.
Turn away, self-ruled, to remind me even Sappho was mortal, even Shakespeare, writing of cups and spiders in his winter’s tale.
Send your tin men home, then.
Once I asked your reason to stay.
You said, “Because you’re still with me.


by Emily Dickinson | |

A precious -- mouldering pleasure -- tis

 A precious -- mouldering pleasure -- 'tis --
To meet an Antique Book --
In just the Dress his Century wore --
A privilege -- I think --

His venerable Hand to take --
And warming in our own --
A passage back -- or two -- to make --
To Times when he -- was young --

His quaint opinions -- to inspect --
His thought to ascertain
On Themes concern our mutual mind --
The Literature of Man --

What interested Scholars -- most --
What Competitions ran --
When Plato -- was a Certainty --
And Sophocles -- a Man --

When Sappho -- was a living Girl --
And Beatrice wore
The Gown that Dante -- deified --
Facts Centuries before

He traverses -- familiar --
As One should come to Town --
And tell you all your Dreams -- were true --
He lived -- where Dreams were born --

His presence is Enchantment --
You beg him not to go --
Old Volume shake their Vellum Heads
And tantalize -- just so --


by Bliss Carman | |

I Loved Thee Atthis in the Long Ago

 (Sappho XXIII)
I loved thee, Atthis, in the long ago,
When the great oleanders were in flower
In the broad herded meadows full of sun.
And we would often at the fall of dusk Wander together by the silver stream, When the soft grass-heads were all wet with dew And purple-misted in the fading light.
And joy I knew and sorrow at thy voice, And the superb magnificence of love,— The loneliness that saddens solitude, And the sweet speech that makes it durable,— The bitter longing and the keen desire, The sweet companionship through quiet days In the slow ample beauty of the world, And the unutterable glad release Within the temple of the holy night.
O Atthis, how I loved thee long ago In that fair perished summer by the sea!


by Bliss Carman | |

If Death be Good

 (Sappho LXXIV)
If death be good,
Why do the gods not die?
If life be ill,
Why do the gods still live?
If love be naught,
Why do the gods still love?
If love be all,
What should men do but love?