How did she know George??

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Before I publish the post “George as the “Consummate Cad”, Part III, I want to share something with you. I had occasion to be reading a translation of some of the ancient Greek poet  Sappho’s (circa 630 B.C.)  poetry yesterday and I came across what I think is a very intriguing poem. I read it and I thought “how did she know George”?  I am going to offer to you two translations of  Sappho’s poem number 31.  See if you can figure out how she knew about George’s effect on women. Remember that these are fragments that have been discovered over time.  The  first translation is that of Anne Carson found on page 63 in her book “If Not Winter” (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002). The second translation is that of Willis Barnstone on page 73 of his book “Sweetbitter Love: Poems of Sappho” (Boston and London: Shambhala, 2006).  I have printed in italics the parts that I think voice the female response to George.  

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 laughting–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.

SECOND TRANSLATION 

To me he seems equal to gods,
the man who sits facing you
and hears you near as you speak and laugh
in a sweet echo that jolts
the heart in my ribs. Now
when I look at you a moment
my voice is empty
and can say nothing as my tongue
cracks and slender fire races
under my skin. My eyes are dead
to light, my ears
pound, and sweat pours over me.
I convulse, greener than grass
and feel my mind slip as I go
close to death.

This poem seems to me so lovely and, from my perspective, so relevant to George that I had to post it. I hope you enjoyed it.  I prefer the Carson translation myself.
I have embroidered this post with a slide show of a few, a very few, of what I find to be particularly handsome photos of George at different ages. There are many more equally handsome ones that I had to leave out…

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 20:48:01

    WE know George was breath takingly handsome …. but did HE?

    please show your other photos?

    Reply

    • Judy Robinson
      Oct 20, 2011 @ 00:25:09

      Sorry to be so long getting back to you but I have been on a holiday with no computer access. Which photos did you mean?

      Reply

    • Judy Robinson
      Oct 20, 2011 @ 00:39:31

      Oops! Just read the post again and I see what you are referring to. It would be difficult to add all the other most handsome photos of George, actually, I find all photos of him unbelievably handsome. I am gradually adding them to my various posts. I recently bought two wonderful ones of him and hope to buy another on Friday, When I do I will scan them, add them to my hard drive and put them in a slideshow on my posts.

      Reply

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