Sappho Fragment 31

Sappho Fragment 31 Poem Text

"Fragment 31" Trans. Anne Carson

He seems to me equal to gods that man

whoever he is who opposite you

sits and listens close

  to your sweet speaking

and lovely laughing—oh it

puts the heart in my chest on wings

for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking

  is left in me

no: tongue breaks and thin

fire is racing under skin

and in eyes no sight and drumming

  fills ears

and cold sweat holds me and shaking

grips me all, greener than grass

I am and dead—or almost

  I seem to me.

But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty [...]

"Fragment 31" Trans. Mary Barnard

He is more than a hero

He is a god in my eyes—

the man who is allowed

to sit beside you—he

who listens intimately

to the sweet murmur of

your voice, the enticing

laughter that makes my own

heart beat fast. If I meet

you suddenly, I can’t

speak—my tongue is broken;

a thin flame runs under

my skin; seeing nothing,

hearing only my own ears

drumming, I drip with sweat;

trembling shakes my body

and I turn paler than

dry grass.At such times

death isn’t far from me.