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on 22 May 2013
As I'm a classicist, the poems of Sappho have always appealed to me greatly. With thought provoking and simply beautiful poetry, this translation for exceeds the penguin translations and stands as the best I've read to date. Great for classicists and all poetry enthusiasts, it's also ideal for those looking to impress their loved ones as the poems of Sappho really do touch the heart, and the gentle flames of her captivating poetry ignite that inner fire in all of us. A wonderful book to treasure forever. Also, the low price and great service mean there is no way you can go wrong with this buy.
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on 22 June 2009
The Hour Has Gone By.

Do I have to introduce Sappho? From Antiquity till now she's a shining star. According to Plato she was the tenth muse and someone called her poetry "as refreshing as a morning breeze".
Is Sappho a lesbian? By many readers Sappho is regarded as such. I'm not saying that this isn't true but to answer that question we should know her better because too little is left of her work to say anything with certainty.

In Antiquity decent women were supposed to work in the kitchen and to raise their children, nothing more. But there were exceptions.
More or less 150 years after Homer's Iliad, Sappho lived on the island of Lesbos, west off the coast of what's modern Turkey. Her poems are vivid and she needs only a few words to describe essential human feelings. For instance she calls solitude: "this icy numbness of being alone".

Sappho excels also in describing nature - something you won't find often in Ancient literature.
"
...
Here ice water babbles through apple branches and roses leave shadow on the ground and bright shaking leaves pour down profound sleep
...". I love this fragment. It has the delicacy of a transparent watercolor painting.
One of her best poems describes her loneliness:
"
The moon has set
And the Pleiades
Midnight
The hour has gone by
I sleep alone.
"

One of the most famous of her poems is 'Seizure'. Feelings are described with a sense of humor in such way that it wouldn't be out of place in a modern comedy. (I give only an excerpt of Barnstone's translation).

" My voice is empty
and can say nothing as my tongue
cracks and slender fire races
under my skin. My eyes are dead
to light, my ears

pound, and sweat pours over me.
I convulse, greener than grass
and feel my mind slip as I go
close to death."

Barnstone's translation is an easy to read modern English and it renders the delicacy and sensitivity of Sappho. Included are extensive notes,
a glossary, and "testimonia" from Sappho's admirers and critics from Plato to Plutarch.
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on 27 September 2015
As many reviewers and fellow schoars have noted over the years, Barnstone has a genius for making us hear the voice of the poet he is translating. In the case of Sappho, that's practically a miracle, given the time in which she wrote and the fact that all that remains of her poetry is a collection of fragments. Yet one feels both the power and the beauty of those fragments coming through in this translation. Truly a great service.
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This was an interesting and rather unusual translation of Sappho's poems, which I sometimes wasn't quite sure about. However, it's always interesting to compare different translations.
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on 19 April 2016
Nice translations- pity that so little of Sappho's lovely poetry has survived the hands of fanatics.
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on 13 August 2012
This will not be to everyone's taste, but I certainly enjoyed it.
I refer back to it when feeling down.
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on 15 January 2013
I did not particularly care for this book. I did not like the poetry and felt that huge tracts of the poet' writings were missing
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