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Apud Sappho
Geoff Burling

One might say the wonder of horse,
another infantry, an armada yet a third,
is the most brilliant sight on the black earth.
But I say

it's whom you love. Lucid is the proof:
that mortal woman of mankind first
in beauty, Helen, her husband forsake,
noble man,

sailing to Troy without thought of kin
neither daughter nor dear parents;
the Queen of Cyprus seduced her from
her stout home.

While women unite in their upwelling passion,
men divide with their might, a sadness
reminding me of Anaktoria, miles away
on a dark ship,

whose soft walk and sunlit face
I'd rather see than armored infantry
or Lydia's chariots charging about
in bright array.

NOTE: This was based on Fr. 16 of Sappho's poems, one of the more complete pieces. Sappho wrote in qualitative verse, where I used alliterative verse based on the Anglo-Saxon model.

Copyright © 1996 Geoff Burling