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Sappho’s Fragment 16(a)

September 20, 2013

Ο]ἰ μὲν ἰππήων στρότον οἰ δὲ πέσδων
οἰ δὲ νάων φαῖσ᾽ ἐπὶ γᾶν μέλαιναν
ἔ]μμεναι κάλλιστον ἔγω δὲ κῆν᾽
ὄττω τὶς ἔπαται.

πά]γχυ δ᾽ εὔμαρες σύνετον πόησαι
πά]ντι τ[οῦ]τ᾽. ἀ γὰρ πόλυ περσκόπεισα
κά]λλος ἀνθρώπων Ἐλένα [τὸ]ν ἄνδρα
[κρίννεν ἄρ]ιστον,

(Sappho, Hymn to Aphrodite III, 1 and 2)

——-

Some say cavalry and others claim
infantry or a fleet of long oars
is the supreme sight on the black earth
I say it is

the one you love. And easily proved.
Did not Helen who far surpassed all
Mortals in beauty desert the best
of men, her kin,

(Willis Barnstone)

——-

Some men say an army of horse and some men say an army on foot
and some men say an army of ships is the most beautiful thing
on the black earth. But I say it is
_____What you love.

Easy to make this understood by all.
For she who overcame everyone
in beauty (Helen)
_____Left her fine husband

(Anne Carson)

——-

Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen
on the black earth is an array of horsemen;
some, men marching; some would say ships; but I say
_____she whom one loves best

is the loveliest. Light were the work to make this
plain to all, since she, who surpassed in beauty
all mortality, Helen, once forsaking
_____her lordly husband,

(Richmond Lattimore)

——-

Some say that the most beautiful thing
upon the black earth is an army of horsemen;
others, of infantry, still others, of ships;
But I say it is what one loves.

It is completely easy to make this
intelligible to everyone; for the woman
who far surpassed all mortals in beauty,
Helen, left her most brave husband

(Jane McIntosh Snyder)

——-

A troop of horse, the serried ranks of marchers,
A noble fleet, some think these of all on earth
Most beautiful. For me naught else regarding
___Is my beloved.

To understand this is for all most simple,
For thus gazing much on mortal perfectino
And knowing already what life could give her,
___Him chose fair Helen,

(Edwin Marion Cox)

——-

Some say an army of horsemen, others
say foot-soldiers, still others, a fleet,
is the fairest thing on the dark earth:
I say it is whatever one loves.

Everyone can understand this –
consider that Helen, far surpassing
the beauty of mortals, leaving behind
the best man of all,

(Diane Rayor)

——-

Some say that the fairest thing upon the dark earth is a host of horsemen, and some say a host of foot soldiers, and others again a fleet of ships, but for me it is my beloved. And it is easy to make anyone understand this. When Helen saw the most beautiful of mortals, she chose for best that one,

(J. M. Edmonds)

——-

Some an army of horsemen some an army on foot
and some say a fleet of ships is the loveliest sight
on this dark earth; but I say it is what-
ever you desire:

and it it possible to make this perfectly clear
to all; for the woman who far surpassed all others
in her beauty Helen left her husband
the best of all men

(Josephine Balmer)

——-

Some say thronging cavalry, some say foot soldiers,
others call a fleet the most beautiful of
sights the dark earth offers, but I say it’s what-
ever you love best.

And it’s easy to make this understood by
everyone, for she who surpassed all human
kind in beauty, Helen, abandoning
her husband—that best of / men

(Jim Powell)

——-

Some say nothing on earth excels in beauty
Fighting men, and call incomparable the lines
Of horse or foot or ships. Let us say rather
Best is what one loves.

This among any who have ever loved
Never wanted proof. Consider Helen: she
Whom in beauty no other woman came near
Left the finest man

(Margaret Reynolds)

——-

Some say horsemen, some say warriors,
Some say a fleet of ships is the loveliest
Vision in this dark world, but I say it’s
What you love.

It’s easy to make this clear to everyone,
Since Helen, she who outshone
All others in beauty, left
A fine husband,

(A. S. Kline)

——-

Some say a cavalry corps,
some infantry, some again,
will maintain that the swift oars

of our fleet are the finest
sight on dark earth; but I say
that whatever one loves, is.

This is easily proved: did
not Helen — she who had scanned
the flower of the world’s manhood

choose as first among men one….

(Mary Barnard)

——-

___Some think a fleet, a troop of horse
___or soldierly the finest sight
in all the world; but I say, what one loves.

___Easy it is to make this plain
___to anyone. She the most fair
of mortals, Helen, having a man of the best, deserted him,

(M. L. West)

——-

Some say an army of horsemen,
some of footsoldiers, some of ships,
is the fairest thing on the black earth,
but I say it is what one loves.

It’s very easy to make this clear
to everyone, for Helen,
by far surpassing mortals in beauty,
left the best of all husbands

(Julia Dubnoff)

——-

Soldiers on horses, some on foot,
Some upon vessels, on Earth’s soot,
These are our beauty.
” I dispute;
It’s who we love.

Easy to get, to take hold of:
Helen’s real beauty is part of
Her true humanness, here, above.
She left that brute.

(J. K. Gayle)

——-

Ο]ἰ μὲν ἰππήων στρότον οἰ δὲ πέσδων
οἰ δὲ νάων φαῖσ᾽ ἐπὶ γᾶν μέλαιναν
ἔ]μμεναι κάλλιστον ἔγω δὲ κῆν᾽
ὄττω τὶς ἔπαται.

πά]γχυ δ᾽ εὔμαρες σύνετον πόησαι
πά]ντι τ[οῦ]τ᾽. ἀ γὰρ πόλυ περσκόπεισα
κά]λλος ἀνθρώπων Ἐλένα [τὸ]ν ἄνδρα
[κρίννεν ἄρ]ιστον,

(Sappho, Hymn to Aphrodite III, 1 and 2)

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    September 20, 2013 10:10 pm

    Mary Barnard’s translation puzzles me.

  2. September 21, 2013 8:25 am

    Maybe my truncation of her translation does Barnard’s lines a disservice. Here are more:

    To any army wife, in Sardis:

    Some say a cavalry corps,
    some infantry, some again,
    will maintain that the swift oars

    of our fleet are the finest
    sight on dark earth; but I say
    that whatever one loves, is.

    This is easily proved: did
    not Helen — she who had scanned
    the flower of the world’s manhood —

    choose as first among men one
    who laid Troy’s honor in ruin?
    warped to his will, forgetting

    love due her own blood, her own
    child, she wandered far with him.
    So Anactoria, although you

    being far away forget us,
    the dear sound of your footstep
    and light glancing in your eyes

    would move me more than glitter
    of Lydian horse or armored
    tread of mainland infantry

    Sappho
    tr. Barnard

    http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Poetry/Sappho/To_an_Army_Wife

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