Stop your sighs now, friend.
Comb your hair, mend your blouse,
and quit pandering for pity.
I have seen your trembling,
knuckles all knotted in nerves.
Almost nothing but flesh by now, old age
sags your inner thighs and covers
muscle with cobwebbed ideals. Youth flies in pursuit
of yesterday and you do nothing to stop it.
If you sleep, you are wasting the moon.
If you cry, you shed only your own tears.
But if you straighten your spine, noble
one, and see that today is for taking
back, then you can truly sing to us
about the one with violets in her lap.
Reclaim that beauty quickly, mostly
before any ripe heartache goes astray
* Please note: the text in the right column comes from If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, Anne Carson’s translation.