I won’t write, or not yet, and in any case not exhaustively, about what kept me off the blogosphere for so long, or indeed entirely offline. But I’m recovering, I think. My apologies go to all e-mail correspondents whose notes I still have to fish out of the mess in my inbox, and to answer.

This blog’s first birthday is put off till when the road is a bit less bumpy.

What about the new poem in this entry’s title, you’re wondering? It is actually over 2600 years old: another one of Sappho’s works has been discovered. Just lucky that the Egyptians used poetry as mummy wrappers.

This is only the fourth of her poems that, to our knowledge, has survived the centuries reasonably complete. In the Times Literary Supplement, Martin West tells the story and publishes his translation. Enjoy its beauty:

[You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts
[be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre:

[but my once tender] body old age now
[has seized;] my hair’s turned [white] instead of dark;

my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.

This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way.

Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end,

handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife.

(The Reuters wire got the first line wrong and writes fragrant-bosomed instead of fragrant-blossomed.)

If I manage to get my hands on the original Greek, I’ll add it.

Since this blog is bilingual, there’s a problem now: I don’t have a French version (and will certainly not try to provide even an approximate one). Therefore, as a bonus, here is Renée Vivien’s poem Tu m’oublies, from her collection Sapho (1903):

L’eau trouble reflète, ainsi qu’un vain miroir,
Mes yeux sans lueurs, mes paupières pâlies.
J’écoute ton rire et ta voix dans le soir…
Atthis, tu m’oublies.

Tu n’as point connu la stupeur de l’amour
L’effroi du baiser et l’orgueil de la haine ;
Tu n’as désiré que les roses d’un jour,
Amante incertaine.

Want more? Go here or here.

Update: The original Greek text is here.

3 comment(s) for 'Absence / Presence, and a new poem'

  1. (Comment, 2005-06-27 09:56 )
    #1 — Johanka

    Happy blogiversary! :-) You’ve been missed.

  2. (Comment, 2005-06-27 13:32 )
    #2dr Dave

    Yay! you’re back!

    We missed you!

    Come back to real blogging quick!

  3. (Comment, 2005-06-28 14:12 )

    Good to have you back! I was worried!