And it was always going to happen

The difference between Catullus and Sappho is that I can still more or less read Latin…These are still versions, rather than translations, because they are two of the most translated poems in literature. They’re quite a bit more faithful than the Sappho poems have tended to be though.

I hate I love
And what the fuck? you say.
Dunno.That’s how I feel,
torn into bits.

Howl, howl your eyes to ponds of tears
you little boys with bows, you pretty girls,
servants of Love, and all you loving men
who hold Love’s train.
The little bird is dead
dingy brown sparrow that my girlfriend loved.
She sometimes said she’d gouge out her own eyes
rather than lose it. And it knew her like
A girl knows Mother, it was just that sweet
sat in her lap, fluttered and sang to her
chirrup pippip in language that she alone
could hear, its mistress. On the road to death
it flutters darkling never to return.
So fuck you greedy Death that takes good things
the pretty little sparrow could have stayed
you bastard! farewell sparrow…Ah, the tears
my red-eyed sweet is weeping at your grave


About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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5 Responses to And it was always going to happen

  1. steerpikelet says:

    Brilliant. Especially the first.

    I admit, my main problem with the second is the lack of epic knob jokes.

  2. auroramama says:

    Oh. I like that very much. It helps that I remember at least one translation well enough to recognize how close this version is; snugged in tight to that foul-mouthed artist. Lovely!

  3. communicator says:

    I like your translation of the poem about the poor sparrow, I feel your version is less mocking of the girl’s feelings than other translations I have read, and personally I like that; death is a real thing no matter how mean the sparrow

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