Supporting National Coming Out Day

To celabrate National Coming Out Day, here’s my iffy  attempt at translating one of my favourite poems from the high school years, by Sappho of Lesbos, (Poem 31).


φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θέοισιν
ἔμμεν’ ὤνηρ ὄττις ἐνάντιός τοι
ἰσδάνει καὶ πλάσιον ἆδυ φωνεί-
σας ὐπακούει,

καὶ γελαίσας ἰμέροεν, τό μ’ ἦ μὰν
καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόαισεν.
ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ’ ἴδω βρόχε’ ὤς με φώναι-
σ’ οὐδ’ ἒν ἔτ’ εἴκει,

ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα ἔαγε, λέπτον
δ’ αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμηκεν,
ὀππάτεσσι δ’ οὐδ’ ἒν ὄρημμ’, ἐπιρρόμ-
βεισι δ’ ἄκουαι,

ἔκ δέ μ’ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲ
παῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας
ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ’ ὀλίγω ‘πιδεύης
φαίνομ’ ἔμ’ αὔτᾳ.


He seems to me as blessed as a god,
That man who sits before you
And close by listens
To your delightful voice

And you loving laughter; the heart
In my chest is stirred, as soon
As my eyes briefly settle upon you,
And all words are lost.

All sound breaks apart on my tongue,
And fire runs under skin.
To my eyes the world is darkness
And humming to my ears.

Sweat descends upon my limbs,
and a trembling envelops me;
greener than grass I am; and close
to death I feel myself.


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