Even though you are approaching Sappho in translation, that is no reason you should miss the drama of trying to read a papyrus torn in half or riddled with holes or smaller than a postage stamp – brackets imply a free space of imaginal adventure.
— Anne Carson, from her “Introduction” to Fragments of Sappho
“if not, winter…” -- Sappho, from Fragment 22 “If not, winter, [like a wish of fire for the sultry wood it longs to glow its kisses from, I, too, will descend, slowly purchasing my slender foothold on the trembling air between us.]” “you burn me…” -- Sappho, from fragment 38 “You burn me [with a malice of silence. An inquisition of glances unmet has crowned me daughter. I flinch under their cross. Flensed heart, fleshless love, With whom do you sleep tonight? Who lifts up your nightdress To bathe your thighs in kisses?]” “gold anklebone cups…” -- Sappho, from fragment 192 “Gold anklebone cups, [brass rings around your arms… In the spangled smoke, in the incensed tint of candle light…. Silver circles your fingers, Amethyst hangs from your lobes… You dance, and your skirt glides along the marbled floor… You sway your hips. You turn your hands this way, that way… A blade of flame races along the ridges of my heart, scattering the birds that nest there into flight… A drumbeat fills my ears. My tongue is a lumpen fool. My eyes drift out of focus… sweat tingles my face, my breasts, my thighs… my skin pale as summer grass… I long to lean down to you… to where my lips tremble behind the curtains of your hair…]”