Sappho: Prelude and Nine Fragments

Song Cycle by Granville Ransome Bantock, Sir (1868 - 1946)

Word count: 827

1. Hymn to Aphrodite [sung text checked 1 time]

Daughter of Zeus,
Immortal Aphrodite,
Queen of the broidered throne,
distress'd I pray thee,
Weaver of wiles,
break not my heart with anguish,
O Goddess, hear me!

Now hither come, as once before thou camest,
Hearing my voice afar, and lean to listen;
Camest with golden chariot, leaving swiftly
Thy father's dwelling.

Beautiful, fleet thy sparrows drew thee hither,
Round the dark earth
from heaven's height descending,
Whirled they with wings
through deeps of middle aether,
Fluttering came they.

Then thou, blest once, with lips immortal smiling,
Didst ask -
"Why weepest thou? What is befallen?
Whom wouldst thy heart and beauty
draw to love thee?
Who wrongs thee, Sappho?

"She who spurns gifts shall give;
who flies shall follow;
If she loves not, unwilling soon shall love thee."
Ah, come, from care release, fulfil my yearning;
Help, I beseech thee.

Daughter of Zeus,
Immortal Aphrodite,
Queen of the broidered throne,
distress'd I pray thee,
Weaver of wiles,
break not my heart with anguish,
O Goddess, hear me!

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2. I loved thee once, Atthis, long ago [sung text checked 1 time]

I loved thee once, Atthis, long ago.
Thou loved'st another more than me,
Scornful wert thou, none like to thee.

Me thou forgettest -
As thou wilt -
Thou art nought to me.

I loved thee once, Atthis, long ago.

In the hereafter shall I be remembered,
But thou shalt die, nor live in memory,
For thou didst not gather the roses of Pieria;
Alone and obscure thou shalt wander,
Even in the house of Hades,
Flitting among the shadowy dead.

I loved thee once, Atthis, long ago.

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3. Evening song [sung text checked 1 time]

Evening,
thou bringest all that bright morning scattered,
the tender lamb to the ewe,
the babe to its mother;
Then Hesperus shines, of all stars the fairest,
Around the cool breeze
wanders through apple boughs,
And slumber streams from quivering leaves,
While sweeter far than harp,
than gold more golden,
Singeth Spring's messenger
the sweet-voiced nightingale.

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4. Stand face to face, friend [sung text checked 1 time]

Stand face to face, friend...
and unveil the grace in thine eyes,
All care let buffetting winds bear away;
For in the golden house of the singer
the voice of lamentation may not be.

Then come, O lyre divine,
for me thine echoes awaken,
So all night long,
when sleep holds the eyes of the weary,
Before the feet of Love
may I set my tireless singing.

Ah! delicate Love,
More precious than gold,
Sweeter than honey,
Softer than rose-leaves,
Beautiful Love!

Thou hast the sun's glory and splendour,
Hungry time can never devour thee:
Thou burnest us, thou bitter sweet,
with a swift, with a subtle fire -

We are broken by longing
At soft Aphrodite's will,
Let us drain a thousand cups of Love,
O my sweet, O my tender one.

Ah! a hue as honey pale o'erspreads thy cheek,
Pale are thy lips and thy beautiful eyelids,
As stars fade, when the lovely moon
Lights up all earth with silver,
So there is none other whereunto I may liken thee.

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5. The moon has set

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The moon has set,
and the Pleiades; it is midnight,
[the]1 time is going by,
and I sleep alone.

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1 omitted by Bantock.

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I yearn and seek ...1

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1 Bantock here adds: "I know not what to do -/ And I flutter like a child after her mother" (possibly from another fragment)

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[Now]1 Love masters my limbs and shakes me, 
fatal creature, bitter-sweet.

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1 Bantock: "For"

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[Now Eros]1 shakes my soul,
a wind on the mountain falling on the oaks.

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1 Bantock: "Yea, Eros"

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Alas! I shall be ever maiden

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Neither honey nor bee for me.

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6. Peer of gods he seems [sung text checked 1 time]

Peer of gods he seems, who sits in thy presence,
Hearing close thy sweet speech
and lovely laughter,
I beholding, all the life in my bosom
Fluttering, fails me.

For to see thee only, yea, but a little,
Breaks my voice, my faltering soul is silent,
Swiftly through all my veins a subtle fire runs,
All my life trembles.

Sight have I none, nor hearing,
cold dew bathes me,
Paler than grass I am, and in my madness
Seem as one dead, yet dare I, poor and suppliant,
Dare I to love thee.

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7. In a dream, I spake [sung text checked 1 time]

In a dream, I spake with the daughter of Cyprus,
"Death is evil, the gods have so judged:
Had it been good, they would die."

Delicate Adonis is dying; what shall we do?
Beat your breasts, maidens,
and rend your tunics. Ah, for Adonis!

The Dawn shall see thee no more,
what shall we do?
Nor dark-eyed Sleep the daughter of Night.
Ah, for Adonis!

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8. Bridal song [sung text checked 1 time]

O fair, O lovely! As the sweet apple
blushes on the end of the bough,
By the gatherers overlook'd,
Nay, but reach'd not till now.
The bride comes rejoicing,
let the bridegroom rejoice.
No other, O bridegroom, like to her
O fair, O lovely!

Raise high the roof beam, Hymenaeus!
Like Ares comes the bridegroom, Hymenaeus!
Tow'ring as the Lesbian singer
'mong men of other lands,
Happy bridegroom, now is thy wedding come.
And thou hast the maiden of thy heart's desire.

Bride, teeming with rosy loves,
Fair as the Goddess of Paphos,
Softly sporting, sweet to the bridegroom
May Hesperus lead thee rejoicing,
Honouring Hera of the silver throne.
Hail, bride; hail, noble bridegroom; all hail!
O fair, O lovely!

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9. Muse of the golden throne [sung text checked 1 time]

Muse of the golden throne, O raise that strain,
Which once thou used to sweetly sing:
Come, Cyprian Goddess, and in cups of gold
Pour forth thy nectar of delight,
Thou and thy servant, Love!

Come, rosy-armed, pure Graces,
sweet-voiced maidens, come
With winged feet, dance round the altar fair,
Trampling the fine soft bloom of the grass.

Hither now, Muses, hither, come!

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