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Poetry of Greek Mythology

Here are a few poems relating to Greek mythology I think are worth showcasing. Two by Sappho of Lesbos and the famed "Leda and the Swan" by Yeats.

[Like the very gods in my sight is he]

by Sappho of Lesbos

translated by Richmond Lattimore

Like the very gods in my sight is he who

sits where he can look in your eyes, who listens

close to you, to hear the soft voice, its sweetness

murmur in love and

laughter, all for him. But it breaks my spirit;

underneath my breast all the heart is shaken.

Let me only glance where you are, the voice dies,

I can say nothing,

but my lips are stricken to silence, underneath

my skin the tenuous flame suffuses;

nothing shows in front of my eyes, my ears are

muted in thunder.

And the sweat breaks running upon me, fever

shakes my body, paler I turn than grass is;

I can feel that I have been changed, I feel that

death has come near me.

"Leda and the Swan"

by William Butler Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

[Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen]

by Sappho of Lesbos

translated by Richmond Lattimore

Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen

on the black earth is an array of horsemen;

some, men marching; some would say ships; but I say

she whom one loves best

is the loveliest. Light were the work to make this

plain to all, since she, who surpassed in beauty

all mortality, Helen, once forsaking

her lordly husband,

fled away to Troy-land across the water.

Not the thought of child nor beloved parents

was remembered, after the Queen of Cyprus

won her at first sight.

Since young brides have hearts that can be persuaded

easily, light things, palpitant to passion

as am I, remembering Anaktoria

who has gone from me

and whose lovely walk and the shining pallor

of her face I would rather see before my

eyes than Lydia's chariots in all their glory

armored for battle.

Source: Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces Expanded Edition Volume 1