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Sappho: A New Translation Paperback – June, 1958


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 114 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of California Pr; 1st edition (June 1958)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520011171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520011175
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.4 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,534,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

An immensely moving translation, complete, beautiful, deserving of endless praise. -- Hudson Review

About the Author

Mary Barnard studied Greek at Reed College and began to translate at Ezra Pound's instigation in the 1930s. Her Assault on Mount Helicon: A Literary Memoir was published by the University of California Press in 1984. Two years later she received the Western States Book Award for her book-length poem, Time and the White Tigress. She has also published prose fiction and a volume of essays on mythology as well as the original lyrics gathered in Collected Poems, 1979.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By NotATameLion on March 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Rich Mullins once wrote "there's so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see." And so it is with the poetry of this ancient Greek lady Sappho. Without her extra eyes, I would be robbed of some sights I could not have found without her. For instance, in one of her poems, she writes:
"Awed by her splendor
Stars near the lovely
moon cover their own
bright faces
when she
is roundest and lights
earth with her silver"
Not only is there beauty. There is a straightforwardness and frankness to the poems of Sappho. It is a clear distillation of the poet's vision confronts the readers of these pages.
There is also wisdom and humor. As when she writes:
"Experience shows us
Wealth unchaperoned
by Virtue is never
an innocuous neighbor"
Mary Barnard is to be praised for these clear, unvarnished translations. Likewise, the introduction is very useful in dispelling so much of the myth that has sprung up around the legacy of this great poet. I recommend this book highly.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on August 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Bernard's translation of Sappho is a translation of a poet who is down-to-earth, who pays attention to the detail.
Some of the fragments are so brief that you are reminded of haiku: "The nightengale's / The soft-spoken / announcer of / Spring's presence"
Other poems speak specifically of feminine concerns - the lost of the maiden-head, the color of ribbon that fits best in her daughter's yellow hair.
I read a great deal of poetry in translation. In other translations I have not found Sappho to my liking. This translation appears to me to be truer to the author's earthliness and less concerned with making Sappho fit into preconceptions. In short, I highly recommend this translation.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Triona Terry on February 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
I hate to say it, but this book made me somewhat regret studying Ancient Greek. I was given a copy by a friend and utterly adored it. It lived in my purse. I found the poems graceful in their simplicity, the imagery beautiful. Then I was asked to translate some Sapphic poetry for class and attempted to use this book as a reference by which to check my work. I unfortunately found that many of the translations had words and lines missing and added (including the title-like fist lines of each translation) and some were so different from the original poems that I had a hard time even finding a correlation between the two. If you want a lovely book of poetry then I highly recommend this book, if you want a brilliant translation of the Greek then I would suggest you do it yourself, as I have, as of yet, been unable to find a competent translation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mianfei on April 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sappho's poetry, long the most famous of ancient literature, is rendered superbly in this translation by Mary Barnard.

Although as a child and young adult I never read literature seriously, various factors have made me curious about Sappho's writings and this small volume is an ideal pocket book or gift. The poems are not easy to get into because it takes the reader quite some time to see what is being written about, but the fact that they are mere fragments actually serves to a limited extent as an offsetting factor. The tone is wonderfully passionate - it is no wonder these poems are known to have been sung to musical accompaniment because even when one reads them they can move the emotions even of a reader like me who is never naturally moved to tears. However, because this emotion is only visible when one reads the lines as Barnard translates them, it is no wonder a casual reader may not realise what passion Sappho possessed.

Although Sappho is known for her sensual focus, many of these fragments have an almost spiritual tone to them, as in "the indistinct dead/in Hell's palace". The beautiful lines about the sweet flavours of the natural world stir the reader's imagination even more, however, and are almost unrivalled among poetry or music.

Whilst the detail in the introduction is not as good as in the alternative translation The Love Songs of Sappho, it is still adequate for the uninitiated.
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