From The Bibelot, A Reprint of Poetry and Prose for Book Lovers, chosen in part from scarce editions and sources not generally known, Volume I, Number V, Testimonial Edition, Edited and Originally Published by Thomas B. Mosher, Portland, Maine; Wm. Wise & Co.; New York; 1904; pp. 123-4.
A PROFOUND melancholy attaches to the fragments of Sappho. The zenith of her fame is stated to be 610 B.C., and as late as 360 A.D., her entire works apparently existed. After that period ‘the rest is silence.’
It is due to chance, almost, that anything remains. For the little we have we owe to quotations imbedded in the treatises of dry-as-dust Scholiasts of our third century. Anti-pagan zeal disdained destroying these, and thus the incomparable verses of the greatest Greek lyrist known, come down to us.
No translation can ever adequately render Sappho: no translator even, hopes to do it. But for those who do not read Greek, all that can be reasonably demanded in English has been given in Mr. H. T. Wharton’s scholarly volume: — Sappho, Memoir, Text, Select Renderings and a Literal Translation. (London: first edition 1885; second edition, 1887; third edition now in press.)
From the delightful little book THE BIBELOT has chosen the more coherent fragments, (very many consist of a line, a word even,) and also prefixed some illustrative head-notes from the same source. Mr. Wharton’s numbering of the fragments is likewise given.
That there are exquisite things here, (notably Swinburne’s paraphrases and Rosetti’s adaptation — “One Girl,”) needs must be seen without further editorial comment..