Sappho Speaks across the Ages to Her Lost Love

Sappho and Alcaeus, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.jpg

NB: Sapphic meter is a rhythmic form created by the poet Sappho of Lesbos (c. 630 – 570 BCE). A sibyl was an oracle to whom people went for answers to questions of great import. A bark is a ship.

A Poem in Sapphic Meter

Where art thou my lithesome disciple, she who
Broke me hard upon the fierce wheel of my own
Longing, cracked me wide until nothing could save
Me from this flooding?

Gone, I know, reborn in some other time, some
Other place. Thus spake the Sybil unto me:
“Gone she is. Where no bark can carry you. There,
You are no more.” O!

Fine as figs and nectar of plums were your sweet
Kisses. None can these e’er replace, O thou, thou,
Thou of honied face, I am broken on you,

Broken and flooded. Holy the flood is,
Pupil and teacher,
Holy the flood.

Copyright 2006, Robert D. Shepherd. All rights reserved.


Art: Sappho and Alcaeus, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema – Walters Art Museum: Home page Info about artwork, Public Domain,

The Sapphic stanza form:

- u -  x  - u u -   u - -
- u -  x  - u u -   u - -
- u -  x  - u u -   u - -
- u u - u

For more poems by Bob Shepherd (and essays on reading and writing poetry), go here: