Tag Archives: Sappho

3 November: What immortal grief hath touched thee …

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Another lyric of Sappho, translated by Bret Carman. 
Is your heart filled with disillusion at all things human – vanity of vanity, says the preacher (Ecclesiastes 1.2); the Bible, the Word of God, explores the same feelings of ultimate dissatisfaction with things fleeting and desired, as Sappho. But the Lord God is not fettered, as the Olympians were. His love leads, but also seeks out the lost sheep. As Sappho wants to believe, there is a place of safety, where every tear will be wiped away.
Let us pray that those in the depths of disillusion may find freedom in God’s love, and that we may be a light on their path, and be wise beyond words in our dealings with them.
Soul of sorrow, why this weeping?
What immortal grief hath touched thee
With the poignancy of sadness,—
  Testament of tears?
Have the high gods deigned to show thee
Destiny, and disillusion
Fills thy heart at all things human,
  Fleeting and desired?
Nay, the gods themselves are fettered
By one law which links together
Truth and nobleness and beauty,
  Man and stars and sea.
And they only shall find freedom
Who with courage rise and follow
Where love leads beyond all peril,
  Wise beyond all words.
samaritans cards 2019
(from “Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics” by Bliss Carman)

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2 November, All Souls: How soon will all my lovely days be over …

reed bed
One of the joys of the web is access to books that the local library will not have on its shelves.
The Canadian poet Bliss Carman translated Sappho into verse; this poem is a challenge to a believer: like Sappho I am a ‘fragile lamp of clay’. But am I burning with the Light of the World, witness to a great wind from the light?
There may be occasions in this month of November to speak a word of hope to a bereaved neighbour; do not be shy of saying it.
How soon will all my lovely days be over,
And I no more be found beneath the sun,—
Neither beside the many-murmuring sea,
Nor where the plain-winds whisper to the reeds,
Nor in the tall beech-woods among the hills
Where roam the bright-lipped Oreads,* nor along
The pasture-sides where berry-pickers stray
And harmless shepherds pipe their sheep to fold!
For I am eager, and the flame of life
Burns quickly in the fragile lamp of clay.
Passion and love and longing and hot tears
Consume this mortal Sappho, and too soon
A great wind from the dark will blow upon me,
And I be no more found in the fair world,
For all the search of the revolving moon
And patient shine of everlasting stars.
LV Soul” (from “Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics” by Bliss Carman)
*Oreads were wood nymphs.
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