Anne Carson — Fragments of Sappho

January 28, 2009

It is partly what is missing in the poems, what we don’t know, to which we bring our own desires and interpretations, that enhances its erotic spell.  

In the fragments of just a single line, the words assume a particular, devastating power. [you burn me]

By bringing her particular kind of austerity to the translation, Ms. Carson has deepened Sappho’s mystery and yet brought us closer to her

Sappho’s poetry is filled with a golden eroticism. It is redolent of Attic sunshine, the sweet smells of the Aegean, Grecian meadows.

It is an eroticism from an ancient time when lines between homosexuality and heterosexuality were blurred, before distinctions were made and fear and prohibitions came into place.

It is said that Sappho died for love of a younger man, Phaon, a ferry boat captain, that she threw herself off a cliff because of him.

But that is probably a lie.

nytimes

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