On What Is Best Poem by Sappho

On What Is Best

Rating: 3.5


Some celebrate the beauty
of knights, or infantry,
or billowing flotillas
at battle on the sea.
Warfare has its glory,
but I place far above
these military splendors
the one thing that you love.

For proof of this contention
examine history:
we all remember Helen,
who left her family,
her child, and royal husband,
to take a stranger's hand:
her beauty had no equal,
but bowed to love's command.

As love then is the power
that none can disobey,
so too my thoughts must follow
my darling far away:
the sparkle of her laughter
would give me greater joy
than all the bronze-clad heroes

POET'S NOTES ABOUT THE POEM
Translated by JON CORELiS
COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Joseph Poewhit 01 January 2010

Love conquers all, since GOD is love.

2 9 Reply
* Sunprincess * 04 September 2015

.............beautifully said, there's no power stronger ?

4 4 Reply
Emma Adamyan 01 January 2010

I surely don`t know Creek, but the English version says it`s fantastic poem and translation. I can only guess, that love was supposed to bring only joy and happiness, i mean a true love from God... so, if it makes a woman to leave her husband and... child! to hold a stranger`s hand... i think it`s not love, but true punishment

4 4 Reply
Rajnish Manga 02 January 2015

The power of love is far stronger than the power of all armies. It is a beauty of a poem which I would like to read again and again.

4 3 Reply
Kevin Straw 01 January 2010

Surely the original cannot have been as bad as this translation. It clumps along like a drayhorse. There's a line missing from the third verse.

4 3 Reply
Dr Antony Theodore 30 October 2020

o take a stranger's hand: her beauty had no equal, but bowed to love's command.. Love i s the power that no one can destroy. tony

0 0 Reply
Mahtab Bangalee 26 February 2020

love then is the power that none can disobey, /// yeah right; love has unique magical and magnetic power for which lover can do anything either wrong or right for future life///

0 0 Reply
Sallie S 23 August 2019

Thank you for sharing this. I think something went wrong during the upload of the last verse. The original surely has a fine closing line that by some accident we're not seeing. Without that line there is no rhyme for " joy" and the reading rhythm ends abruptly. I hope that it is not too late to recover that line. Again, thank you.

0 0 Reply
Hans @ Aufie 23 February 2018

The madness of warfare, the absurdity of praising armies and military display. There is no beauty, no love, no sense, nothing praiseworthy in battle Love on the other hand has everything. All praiseworthy are comprised in love I got carried away reading this poem. It is truly beautiful and full of wisdom.

2 2 Reply
Geoffrey Plowden 21 October 2016

The translaor has put in stuff of his own which we could do wothout.

3 3 Reply
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