Monday, August 6, 2012


delicate the weave,
fair the thread:

clear the colours,
apple-leaf green,
ox-heart  blood-red:

rare the texture
woven from wild ram,
sea-bred horned sheep:

the stallion and his mare,
unbridled, with arrow-pattern,
are worked on
the blue cloth

Note:  The above excerpt from H.D.'s 1957 poem Fair The Thread appears in Guy Davenport's introduction to his 7 Greeks translations volume.  Davenport cites the lines as an example of a conscious imitation by H.D. of Sappho.  The entire poem contains only a few additional lines, which appear at the poem's beginning and end.  

Davenport's point is a valid one and interestingly, I think, this abridgement is a better, more powerful and affecting poem, than H.D.'s original, integral version.

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