Sappho: Ode to Aphrodite (Jon Corelis)

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  • (Posted 2011-09-06)  CPDL #24376:       
Editor: Jon Corelis (submitted 2011-09-06).   Score information: Letter, 6 pages, 80 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: Sappho: Ode to Aphrodite
Composer: Jon Corelis
Lyricist: Jon Corelis

Number of voices: 1v   Voicing: S
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: Harp

First published: 2011
Description: An experimental piece: my translation of Sappho's best known poem in a musical setting in which the meter is based on the poetic meter of the Greek original and the melody on the pitch intervals of the ancient Greek tonal accent (so far as they're understood.) The result can't claim to be what the ancient song sounded like, but only aims to use those elements to create a dream-world suggestive of ancient Greece for modern listeners. This mix uses a clarsach Celtic harp as accompaniment to suggest the brilliant twang of an ancient lyre; I have another version that uses koto. Written for female alto voice, though according to the voice charts it should also be within soprano range. Synth female la-la voice used in this mix. I'm not sure if it 's actually singable by a real humanoid. For convenience lyrics are given below.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Ode to Aphrodite by Sappho
translated from the Greek by Jon Corelis

Aphrodite, immortal, enthroned in wonder,
Sky-daughter, webstress of schemes, I entreat you
not to break my spirit with pangs of anguish,
Queen, Lady, Mother,

but now come to me, if in the past you ever
also heeded me when I cried from afar, and,
leaving behind the golden house of your father
Zeus, you descended

borne in a chariot yoked to a flock of lovely
sparrows flying fast over earth’s black richness,
thickly fluttering wings leading you a passage
through bright mid-heaven,

soon arriving, and you, O supreme in blessing,
eternity’s smile gleaming from your expression,
asked me now this time what again I suffered,
what did I pray for,

what beyond all else I would want to happen
with all my love-maddened heart: “Who now needs persuasion
to be led back to your affection? Who is it,
Sappho, who hurts you?

Though she now may run, she will soon pursue you;
now she may spurn gifts, but she soon will give them;
now she feels no love, but she soon will feel it,
even unwilling.”

Coming this time again, act as my deliveress;
unwind this mastering pain; become fulfiller
of everything that my passion hopes for: take your
stand as my ally.