Greek Poetry: New Voices and Ancient Echoes

AGENDAGreek Poetry:  New Voices and Ancient Echoes (Comtributor) (AGENDA Vol 36, Nos. 3 – 4)

This book, while containing some essays, is in the main an anthology, both of contemporary Greek poetry in translation, and also translations from classical Greek. In this second half  of the book, Leo Aylen is the major contributor, with translations from Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Sappho, the early lyric poet Minnermos, and two translations of epic: the famous scene between Hector and Andromache in the sixth book of the Iliad, and the majority of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.

Sappho:  Turning Immortal?

Am I turning immortal
By sitting beside you,
Absorbing that sweetness,
Your voice, your laughter?

I want you, little one,
My breasts are tingling.
My hear knocks for you,
And when I see you …

Thin flames run under my skin,
My tongue is cracking,
Choking, my ears ring,
My eyes are smudged with blindness.

Sweat floods over me,
Tremblings judder me,
Turn me a pale, pale, green,
Leave me nearly dying.

Why risk such agony?
Because I’m desperate,
Reduced to nothing …
Turning immortal?

Turning immortal?

Turning immortal?

Turning immortal?


The Song for Oedipus’ death
from Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus, lines 1556 — 1578

Dare it be right for me, goddess unnameable,
Dare it be right t’ adore thee,
Lord of the drowned in night,
Aidoneus Underworld.
Take all pain from his passing,
Pain of the horror screaming.
Let him gently achieve
The way where all must disappear
In the river of Hell and the valley of bones.
Look, look, the marked face, the crass
Permeation of his pain.
Is there a power, below, to aid him?

Goddess and queen of dark, where the untameable
Beast of your secret threshold
Trodden by all mankind
Must sleep, sleep, sleep, growl, growl,
Through deep caves, never muzzled
Sentry for everlasting
As the stories have told.
Oh Lord, earth’s child and child of Hell,
Oh Lord, I pray that a peace may fall.
Lord, guide this man through the waste,
Through the black expanse of bones.
On thee I call Lord, the sleep unending.