Found it on Glaukôpidos, via caelestis at sauvage noble, so here it is, as promised: the original Greek version of the “new” Sappho poem found on an University of Cologne papyrus.

῎Υμμες πεδὰ Μοίσαν ἰ]ο̣κ[ό]λ̣πων κάλα δῶρα, παῖδες,
σπουδάσδετε καὶ τὰ]ν̣ φιλἀοιδον λιγύραν χελύνναν·

ἔμοι δ᾽ἄπαλον πρίν] π̣οτ᾽ [ἔ]ο̣ντα χρόα γῆρας ἤδη
ἐπέλλαβε, λεῦκαι δ’ ἐγ]ένοντο τρίχες ἐκ μελαίναν·

βάρυς δέ μ’ ὀ [θ]ῦμο̣ς̣ πεπόηται, γόνα δ’ [ο]ὐ φέροισι,
τὰ δή ποτα λαίψηρ’ ἔον ὄρχησθ’ ἴσα νεβρίοισι.

τὰ <μὲν> στεναχίσδω θαμέως· ἀλλὰ τί κεν ποείην;
ἀγήραον ἄνθρωπον ἔοντ᾽ οὐ δύνατον γένεσθαι

καὶ γἀρ π̣[ο]τ̣α̣ Τίθωνον ἔφαντο βροδόπαχυν Αὔων
ἔρωι φ̣ . . α̣θ̣ε̣ισαν βάμεν’ εἰς ἔσχατα γᾶς φέροισα[ν,

ἔοντα̣ [κ]ά̣λ̣ο̣ν καὶ νέον, ἀλλ’ αὖτον ὔμως ἔμαρψε
χρόνωι π̣ό̣λ̣ι̣ο̣ν̣ γῆρας, ἔχ[ο] ν̣τ’ ἀθανάταν ἄκοιτιν.

(That’s Unicode Greek letters, so install a suitable font if you need one.)

Time to bring out the big dictionary (well, my good old school Gemoll) and to brush up on metres.

Update 05/07/01:

  1. After some discussions in Language Hat’s welcoming lounge, two transcription errors have been corrected. William wryly remarks on textual corruption going on before his eyes.

  2. Caelestis has more yet, including a transliteration in our Latin alphabet. Also, he’s the classics scholar, so go there for any of your classics needs.

  3. Some dabate has arisen about the meaning of ἰόκολπος, an adjective that modifies “of the Muses”. West’s translation in TLS (copied here) has “fragrant-blossomed”. But the Reuters wire based on it chose “fragrant-bosomed” — which seems more correct (”the bosom [scented with] violets”). Others prefer a different supposition about the origin and translate “purple-girdled”.

  4. And for German speakers: deutsche Übersetzung des Sappho-Gedichts, with comments by one of the discoverers, Michael Gronewald (Uni Köln).

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.