Fragment 16 of Sappho (English Translation)


For some, it's an army of chariot fighters, for others, an infantry corps,
For others, an armada of sailing ships, on the dark face of this earth,
That is the loveliest thing of all, but I say it's this and nothing more:
Whatever you desire with love in your heart.

And this is the simplest thing in the world to explain
To everyone: for the woman who far surpassed all others
in beauty, Helen, chose to abandon her husband
who surpassed all other men...

I would rather watch her love-provoking stride
and witness the bright sparkle of her face
than all the war chariots of the Lydians
and shield-fighting armored men.


Translation copyright © 2008 Richard Welland Crowell