Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Translation of Renée Vivien’s Sappho Translation

Translation of Renée Vivien’s Sappho Translation

Photograph via Flickr by Earvin Corona

As a sweet apple blushes at the tip
of the branch, at the farthest tip:
the harvesters have forgotten it or, rather,
they have not forgotten, but they could not wait …
— Psappha

Like an apple with its golden flesh that sways
Amid the verdant orchard and the rivers,
At the treetop, swinging in a cadence
As it shivers,

Like an apple that, as it pleases the breeze,
Goes swaying and laughing in trembling dusk,
You blossom, mocking passers-by
For their vain lusts.

In you, the autumn’s knowing ardor holds
The gold and amber lying at its root.
And you withhold, O virgin unattainable,
Your body’s fruit.