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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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Written by Sappho | |

I have not had one word from her

I have not had one word from her 



Frankly I wish I were dead

When she left she wept 



a great deal; she said to me This parting must be

endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.  



I said Go, and be happy

but remember (you know 

well) whom you leave shackled by love 



If you forget me think

of our gifts to Aphrodite

and all the loveliness that we shared 



all the violet tiaras,

braided rosebuds, dill and

crocus twined around your young neck 



myrrh poured on your head

and on soft mats girls with

all that they most wished for beside them 



while no voices chanted

choruses without ours,

no woodlot bloomed in spring without song...  



--Translated by Mary Barnard 


Written by Sappho | |

On the throne of many hues Immortal Aphrodite

On the throne of many hues Immortal Aphrodite 

child of Zeus weaving wiles--I beg you

not to subdue my spirit Queen 

with pain or sorrow 



but come--if ever before 

having heard my voice from far away

you listened and leaving your father's 

golden home you came 



in your chariot yoked with swift lovely

sparrows bringing you over the dark earth

thick-feathered wings swirling down

from the sky through mid-air 



arriving quickly--you Blessed One 

with a smile on your unaging face

asking again what have I suffered

and why am I calling again 



and in my wild heart what did I most wish

to happen to me: "Again whom must I persuade

back into the harness of your love?

Sappho who wrongs you? 



For if she flees soon she'll pursue 

she doesn't accept gifts but she'll give 

if not now loving soon she'll love

even against her will." 



Come to me now again release me from

this pain everything my spirit longs 

to have fulfilled fulfill and you

be my ally 



--Translated by Diane Rayor 


Written 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.<br> 
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.<br>


More great poems below...

Written 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!


Written 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!"


Written 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!


Written 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.<br>


Written 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!


Written 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!


Written 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.<br>
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.<br>
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.<br>


Written by Dorothy Parker | |

Song Of One Of The Girls

 Here in my heart I am Helen;
I'm Aspasia and Hero, at least.<br>
I'm Judith, and Jael, and Madame de Stael;
I'm Salome, moon of the East.<br>

Here in my soul I am Sappho;
Lady Hamilton am I, as well.<br>
In me Recamier vies with Kitty O'Shea,
With Dido, and Eve, and poor Nell.<br>

I'm of the glamorous ladies
At whose beckoning history shook.<br>
But you are a man, and see only my pan,
So I stay at home with a book.<br>


Written by Francis Thompson | |

To A Poet Breaking Silence

 Too wearily had we and song
Been left to look and left to long,
Yea, song and we to long and look,
Since thine acquainted feet forsook
The mountain where the Muses hymn
For Sinai and the Seraphim.<br>
Now in both the mountains' shine
Dress thy countenance, twice divine!
From Moses and the Muses draw
The Tables of thy double Law!
His rod-born fount and Castaly
Let the one rock bring forth for thee,
Renewing so from either spring
The songs which both thy countries sing:
Or we shall fear lest, heavened thus long,
Thou should'st forget thy native song,
And mar thy mortal melodies
With broken stammer of the skies.<br>

Ah! let the sweet birds of the Lord
With earth's waters make accord;
Teach how the crucifix may be
Carven from the laurel-tree,
Fruit of the Hesperides
Burnish take on Eden-trees,
The Muses' sacred grove be wet
With the red dew of Olivet,
And Sappho lay her burning brows
In white Cecilia's lap of snows!

Thy childhood must have felt the stings
Of too divine o'ershadowings;
Its odorous heart have been a blossom
That in darkness did unbosom,
Those fire-flies of God to invite,
Burning spirits, which by night
Bear upon their laden wing
To such hearts impregnating.<br>
For flowers that night-wings fertilize
Mock down the stars' unsteady eyes,
And with a happy, sleepless glance
Gaze the moon out of countenance.<br>
I think thy girlhood's watchers must
Have took thy folded songs on trust,
And felt them, as one feels the stir
Of still lightnings in the hair,
When conscious hush expects the cloud
To speak the golden secret loud
Which tacit air is privy to;
Flasked in the grape the wine they knew,
Ere thy poet-mouth was able
For its first young starry babble.<br>
Keep'st thou not yet that subtle grace?
Yea, in this silent interspace,
God sets His poems in thy face!

The loom which mortal verse affords,
Out of weak and mortal words,
Wovest thou thy singing-weed in,
To a rune of thy far Eden.<br>
Vain are all disguises! Ah,
Heavenly incognita!
Thy mien bewrayeth through that wrong
The great Uranian House of Song!
As the vintages of earth
Taste of the sun that riped their birth,
We know what never cadent Sun
Thy lamped clusters throbbed upon,
What plumed feet the winepress trod;
Thy wine is flavorous of God.<br>
Whatever singing-robe thou wear
Has the Paradisal air;
And some gold feather it has kept
Shows what Floor it lately swept!


Written by Christina Rossetti | |

Sappho

 I sigh at day-dawn, and I sigh
When the dull day is passing by.<br>
I sigh at evening, and again
I sigh when night brings sleep to men.<br>
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.<br>


Written by Jennifer Reeser | |

Civilization

 Send your army home to their wives and children.<br>
It is late.<br> Your soldiers are burdened, thirsty.<br>
Lock the doors, the windows, and here in darkness
 lie down beside me.<br>

Speak of anything we possess in common:
ground or law or sense.<br> Only speak it softly.<br>
Spiders crawl the crevices.<br> Violent voices
 ruin their balance,

and theyll fall  intuit  upon our faces,
where I fear them most.<br> But youve heard this terror,
and my midnight phobias always move you 
 cause to remain here.<br>

Leave a light still burning, in some far wall sconce.<br>
Tuck one rebel end of the flat sheet under.<br>
Turn away, self-ruled, to remind me even
 Sappho was mortal,

even Shakespeare, writing of cups and spiders
in his winters tale.<br> Send your tin men home, then.<br>
Once I asked your reason to stay.<br> You said,
 Because youre still with me.<br>


Written by Anne Sexton | |

The Red Dance

 There was a girl
who danced in the city that night,
that April 22nd,
all along the Charles River.<br>
It was as if one hundred men were watching
or do I mean the one hundred eyes of God?
The yellow patches in the sycamores
glowed like miniature flashlights.<br>
The shadows, the skin of them
were ice cubes that flashed
from the red dress to the roof.<br>
Mile by mile along the Charles she danced
past the benches of lovers,
past the dogs pissing on the benches.<br>
She had on a red, red dress
and there was a small rain
and she lifted her face to it
and thought it part of the river.<br>
And cars and trucks went by
on Memorial Drive.<br>
And the Harvard students in the brick
hallowed houses studied Sappho in cement rooms.<br>
And this Sappho danced on the grass.<br>
and danced and danced and danced.<br>
It was a death dance.<br>
The Larz Anderson bridge wore its lights
and many cars went by,
and a few students strolling under
their Coop umbrellas.<br>
And a black man who asked this Sappho the time,
the time, as if her watch spoke.<br>
Words were turning into grease,
and she said, "Why do you lie to me?"
And the waters of the Charles were beautiful,
sticking out in many colored tongues
and this strange Sappho knew she would enter the lights
and be lit by them and sink into them.<br>
And how the end would come -
it had been foretold to her -
she would aspirate swallowing a fish,
going down with God's first creature
dancing all the way.<br>