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Poetry Path: Sappho


Sappho, Fragment 104a

Sappho was born between 610 and 620 B.C.E. on the Greek island of Lesbos. The details of her life are widely contested. From an aristocratic family, she was taught to play the lyre as a child and composed both music and verse. Her poems were first collected around the third century B.C., but today, her work survives mostly in fragments. Sappho’s poetry is known for its lyricism and its focus on (frequently same-sex) romantic love and relationships. Historians believe she died of old age around 570 B.C.E.

Sappho, excerpt from Fragment 47, translated by Diane Rayor from Ancient Greek, from Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Reprinted by permission.

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