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I have a stinking cold and am not enjoying life especially, and I really don't feel like writing any of the novel right now, or working. So another riff on Sappho...


Some get excited when the mounted police
Trot past. The hoofbeats drive their hearts
To pulse and throb. It doesn’t matter if
It’s horse or rider; it all works the same
And some like squaddies, some like sailor boys
Or latex, corsetry or stocking tops.
The world’s so full of lots of things to love;
Whatever does it for you. Everyone

Gets this. And she who was most beautiful
Helen, the one that we still talk about
After so many years, she had a man,
A king of men, and she walked out on him
Without a thought
And she went off to Troy
And gave no thought to any of her kids
Or to her parents. Venus took away
What little brains she had and set her off
To chase off after that dim pretty boy
An archer who killed better men than he
From a safe distance. But she loved him so
Oh! She burned for him, like that’s an excuse
Opened hot legs and satisfied her need
And tore the world apart.

And now I think,
I have to think, of sweet Anactoris
Her swaying walk, the glimmer of her smile
And how I’d rather look at her close up
Than stand up on a balcony in furs
And watch the whole Red Army marching past
Saluting me, and killing whom I chose.
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It's been one of those days when I would have a migraine if I hadn't had one a few days ago, and when I am sort of tingly - I ought to go and hear [livejournal.com profile] natalie456 read but I haven't done enough work and I ought to cook. And it is cold outside.

So I pulled out another of Sappho's Greatest Hits, and decided to see what happened. As with the last one, the speaker isn't me, exactly. It's someone much more confident, but not entirely.

And someone who hasn't been with someone 21 years.


Hymn to Aphrodite


Aphrodite, Astarte, Venus, Love
Many-named goddess
Who does not exist
But maybe talking to you
Makes you,
Brings you here.
Someone said it's states of mind.
Get there
by getting there.
So, do the humble bit
Say
Good Goddess
Nice Goddess

You talk soft
to predators.

Please don't fuck me up
Angry
If you are there
Don't hurt me
your humble servant,
praise
singer.

Listen
Like you're on the phone
And counsel me
like a Samaritan
Or a call centre.

Or
you could come
bright
shining
through dust-coloured, soot-coloured grubby
sparrows
thousands of them
little threads,
so strong,
tugging your chariot
heart-strings.

or maybe it's a car,
a bright red Maserati
No sparrows,
London sparrows
any more
- that's sad.

Your birds
that fuck and twitter
And are many
common as dirt
and each one perfect
ball of feathers
and lust.


So beautiful
Goddess
Not my type
The botoxed blonde
you see in ads
and movies.
How every goddess
looks
in these sad days.
Worshipping
is telling them apart.

So come and say
As if we were old friends
What's up now Sappho?
Is your head hurting
or your heart
or is it just an itch
between your thighs?

So
Sappho.
Who's the girl this time?
Who do I have to pull
For you?
Who broke your heart
or gave you clap

bad girl?

She'll suffer
It'll turn around
She'll be the chaser
Who was oh so chaste?

The fire will burn her
Who sets you ablaze.
I'll fix it
Like I always do'

She yawns and smiles.

So good to have imaginary friends
for confidence
and maybe it will work
just one more time.

I really want this girl.

The original is here )
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[livejournal.com profile] ephemerita mentioned that a friend had posted a Sappho fragment and I thought, 'I could have a look at that' and try to do another free version, because well, the object of many of my poems was just in touch after ten years of silence, and good lord! pretty much cured. Passionate as those poems are, I hope, they are about memory, not about now, old married woman that I am.

So I was in the mood for an exercise, and so Cel sent me the fragment and I decided to improvise quickly around it...

Sappho fragment 94

: I just really want to die.
She, crying many tears, left me
And said to me:
"Oh, how terribly we have suffered, we two,
Sappho, really I don't want to go away."
And I said to her this:
Go and be happy, remembering me,
For you know how we cared for you.
And if you don't I want to remind you
.............and the lovely things we felt
with many wreathes of violets
and ro(ses and cro)cuses
and.............. and you sat next to me
and threw around your delicate neck
garlands fashioned of many woven flowers
and with much...............costly myrrh
..............and you anointed yourself with royal.....
and on soft couches.......(your) tender.......
fulfilled your longing..........

My somewhat more cynical version

I hate it
hate it
as if I want to die a moment
when they cry.
She cried,
a lot,
And it was all,
We’re such bad news together,
it just hurts,
Sappho
She really didn’t want to leave.
She said.
So I was all
Leave and be better off
Remember all the good times that we had
The love we shared,
Us and some other girl
Down at the flower market that time
Just as it shut
When we came back
With bunches of violets
That faded
Pots of crocuses
Too dry to live
Roses too red
Against her frock,
But lasted.
Their smell
Clashed with her perfume
Some expensive stuff.
I’ll miss her money
And that posh chaise longue
Where we made love
Uncomfortable.
Still, good things always end
And sometimes
You get to make them think they left.
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