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.

Il neige dans mon cœur
Comme il neige sur la ville,
Quelle est cette langueur
Qui recouvre mon cœur?

O chuchotis de la neige
Par terre et sur les toits!
Pour un cœur qui se piège
O musique de la neige!

Il neige sans raison
Dans ce cœur qui s’écœure.
Quoi! nulle trahison?
Ce deuil est sans raison.

C’est bien la pire peine
De ne savoir pourquoi,
Sans amour et sans haine,
Mon cœur a tant de peine!

With my humblest apologies to Paul Verlaine.

Anagram poetry has taken hold. Here are three attempts, and several more are in the works.

Each poem is dedicated to an online or offline friend. Should you recognize yourself, you can keep yours.

ah bland honey jar

ann had herbal joy
rehab only had jan
oh jan, bleary hand!

handy banjo haler
heal nonhardy jab

posh hebetation

hip banshee toot
bathes hope into
this beaten hoop

bitnet op has hoe
hits at neophobe
toshiba potheen
beneath hips, too

seine bath photo
sabot pointe, heh!

galante longueur

ego glanant lueur
lorgnera geulant
étrangla gnou élu
alléguera tong nu
un langage loutre

glanage tue luron
nul lagunage rote

Anagram poetry

Poésie anagrammatique assistée par ordinateur.

GENITALIC WHIRS by A Chisel Writing erica whistling heliac writings citing welsh air a new girlish tic lawn-git cries hi wiling heirs act! angelic his writ within glaciers […]

 read the post »

Another WotW, for the only reason that I stumbled over it two days ago. This one is in French, so you might want to read the full story in the French version of this post. Moineau de Lesbie, literally Lesbia’s sparrow is the title of a bust of Rachel (Elizabeth-Rachel Félix, dite Elisa) (1821-1858), who was […]

 read the post »