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[It’s no use / Mother dear…]

by Sappho

Translated by Mary Barnard

It’s no use

Mother dear, I
can’t finish my
You may
blame Aphrodite

soft as she is

she has almost
killed me with
love for that boy

The poems of Sappho (620 BCE–550 BCE) are known through the fragments of them that have survived, and as quotations within the work of other ancient writers. Almost nothing is known of her life, but the themes of her surviving poetry are clear even if their occasions for writing are now lost: a preoccupation with the complexities of desire; the ways that desire can incapacitate the speaker; an intimacy of address, suggesting that her work was to be read by a small circle of friends; the primacy and dislocating power of love.

Submitted by: David Chirico