If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

By Sappho, Anne Carson

Of the 9 books of lyrics the traditional Greek poet Sappho is related to have composed, just one poem has survived entire. the remaining are fragments. during this astounding new translation, acclaimed poet and classicist Anne Carson offers all of Sappho’s fragments, in Greek and in English, as though at the ragged scraps of papyrus that safeguard them, inviting a thrill of discovery and conjecture that may be defined in simple terms as electric—or, to exploit Sappho’s phrases, as “thin fireplace . . . racing lower than skin.” by way of combining the traditional mysteries of Sappho with the modern wizardry of 1 of our so much fearless and unique poets, If now not, iciness provides a tantalizing window onto the genius of a girl whose lyric strength spans millennia.

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1 “here”: adverb of position that suggests “hither, to this position” with verbs of movement or “here, during this position” with verbs of relaxation, frequently used as an interjection “Come on! the following now! ” while via an crucial verb. discover that the principal verb evoked by means of this adverb, for which the complete poem with its gradual weight of ono-matopoeically gathering clauses looks ready, doesn't arrive until eventually the final note: “pour” (16). Arrival is the difficulty, for it sanctifies ready: attente de Dieu. The poem is a hymn of the sort referred to as “kletic,” that's, a calling hymn, an invocation to god to return from the place she is to the place we're. this sort of hymn generally names either one of those areas, surroundings its invocation in among in order to degree the difference—a distinction exploded once the hymn achieves its objective. Inherent within the motive of a kletic hymn, then, is an vacancy or distance that it's the functionality of the hymn to mark through an act of recognition. Sappho suspends recognition among adverb at the start and verb on the finish: the influence is uncanny—as if construction should be obvious watching for an occasion that's already without end right here. there's no transparent boundary among a long way and close to; there isn't any climactic second of god's arrival. Sappho renders a collection of stipulations that initially depend upon Aphrodite's absence yet via the tip contain her presence—impossible drop that saturates the area. “God can basically be found in production less than the shape of absence,” says Simone Weil, in Gravity and beauty, translated through Arthur Wills (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1997), 162. 2. eight “sleep”: koma is a noun utilized in the Hippokratic texts of the torpid nation referred to as “coma” but no longer initially a clinical time period. this can be the profound, bizarre, sexual sleep that enwraps Zeus after love with Hera (Homer Iliad 14. 359); this can be the punishing, unbreathing stupor imposed for a 12 months on any god who breaks an oath (Hesiod Theogony 798); this can be the trance of recognition prompted via hearing tune of the lyre (Pindar Pythians 1. 12); this is often the deep non secular stillness defined through Gregory of Nazianzus in a Christian poem from the fourth century A. D. that looks to be modeled on Sappho's, for Gregory imagines himself anticipating his god in a backyard: Breezes whispered … lavishing appealing sleep [koma] from the tops of the timber on my middle so very weary. —Patrologia graeca 37, ed. J. P. Migne (Paris, 1862), 755ff. Otherworldliness is intensified in Sappho's poem through the synaesthetic caliber of her kōma—dropping from leaves set in movement via a shiver of sunshine over the tree: Sappho's adjective aithussomenon (“radiant-shaking,” 7) blends visible and tactile perceptions with a valid of dashing vacancy. 2. 14 “gold cups”: now not mortal tableware, neither is nectar a beverage mostly loved by way of any yet gods (along with ambrosia, e. g. , Odyssey five. 92-4). three. eleven “all evening long”: if this examining (Diehl's 1923 conjecture) is true, Sappho could be pursuing her personal evening innovations (Diehl thinks those strategies obstacle her brother: cf. frr. five, 7, 15) in any other case partaking in a nocturnal ritual.

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