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Fragment 31, Ode to a Loved One by Sappho


"Ode to a Loved One", also called "Fragment 31", is a poem written by Sappho. This poem is about feeling nervous or simply dumbfounded when near someone you love. She talks about her experience where her love sat beside her and she couldn't breath or talk. She blushed and couldn't seem to hear anything (but perhaps wedding bells). Her lips then started to shake and her heart stopped.

This poem is made up of four stanzas with four lines in each. It is rhymed in couplets.


Ode to a Loved One

Lest as the immortal gods is he,
The youth who fondly sits by thee,
And hears and sees thee, all the while,
Softly speaks and sweetly smile.
'Twas this deprived my soul of rest,
And raised such tumults in my breast;
For, while I gazed, in transport tossed,
My breath was gone, my voice was lost;
My bosom glowed; the subtle flame
Ran quick through all my vital frame;
O'er my dim eyes a darkness hung;
My ears with hollow murmurs rung;
In dewy damps my limbs were chilled;
My blood with gentle horrors thrilled:
My feeble pulse forgot to play;
I fainted, sunk, and died away.

Translated by Ambrose Philips, 1893

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Literary Movement
7th Century B.C.

Ode, Love