AMÉLIA MUGE & MICHALES LOUKOVIKAS
ARCHiPELAGOS / Passages
IV. WHAT IS TO SUFFER
● Temptation ● Dédyke a Selánna
(The Moon Has Set Down)
– Hélia Correia / Amélia Muge
• Arranged by Filipe Raposo
Oh, speak to me, mother, pray tell me, / What’s temptation, how may it be?
There’ll be some wicked person / Who will spy on me in some corner
And then take my heart away?
What precautions, what endeavours, / What doors, closed and restrictive?
Oh, my lady, what’s it out there / That has put us here confined?
What kind of foul arts are hidden / Underneath so long a skirt?
What is there inside me / That compels me run like this
As if my life is in danger?
Oh, speak to me, mother, pray tell me, / What is to suffer from love?
Is it suffering from pain / Or to be raised in the air
As if by a falcon’s claws?
In an alley that is blind / Where the entrance can be found?
Oh, mother, tell me a secret, / I don’t know if I’m afraid
Or I’m trembling in my haste?
● Hélia Correia: see ARCHiPELAGOS • VIII. IN TIMES OF INDIGENCE.
08. Dédyke a Selánna / The Moon Has Set Down
Fragments: The Moon Has Set Down, Meanings Are Divided, Eros
– Sappho (also in Portuguese: Amélia Muge) / Michales Loukovikas
• Adapted / Arranged by M. Loukovikas
The moon has sunk setting down
with the Pleiades, it is around
midnight, time is slipping by
while I am lying down alone.
I know not what I aspire for
meanings in me are divided.
Eros trembles and shakes my limbs again
a bittersweet invincible serpentine.
Eros has blown up my mind,
a mountain wind falling hard upon the oak trees.
Notes on Some Poetic Resources
– Cornelius Castoriadis
Dedyke, from the verb dyō, means has plunged. In Greece, with its 200 inhabited islands and around 15,000 kilometers of coastline, the sun, moon, and stars do not go down; they plunge. Selanna is the moon, of course. But for a Greek, selanna immediately suggests selas, light. When Sappho is speaking, it is midnight, the moon and the Pleiades have already plunged. This indication would almost suffice to date the writing of the poem. It is springtime – and actually early springtime – for that is when the Pleiades set before midnight. Effortlessly, we see the night sky revolving, the moon and the Pleiades already set, and this woman, perhaps in love with someone who is not there, or perhaps not in love but full of desires in any case, and who, in the middle of the night, unable to fall asleep, tells of her sadness at being alone in her bed. Sappho has lain down, and the ōra passes. What is ōra [hōra in other Greek dialects]? The translator naturally renders hōra as hour, derived from that Greek root, via Latin. But hōra in Greek also means season, already so in Homer, and this sense persists through Alexandrian and Byzantine times. Ηōra is also the time when a thing is at its hour, when it is truly fine and lovely; therefore, for human beings, it is the acme of youth. What, then, does Sappho say? The Moon and the Pleiades / have plunged, it is the middle / of the night; season, hour, youth go away / and I lay in bed alone. The force of the poem peaks precisely in that word, ōra, which conjoins several meanings. It is springtime – the season of lovers – hours going by and Sappho’s youth is wasting away in vain since she has no one in her bed…
● Sappho (or Psappha in her native Aeolic dialect of Lesbos, c. 630 – c. 570 BCE): the greatest lyric poet of archaic Greece who was often referred to as the Poetess, just as Homer was called the Poet, while Plato hailed her as the tenth Muse. Although her poetry was well-known and greatly admired in antiquity, most of it survives only in fragments, mainly because the Christian Church disapproved of her morals and the ecclesiastical authorities burned her anthologies. ● Pleiades: a star archipelago, one of the nearest star clusters to Earth and the one most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. The name of the seven divine sisters comes from ancient Hellenic, probably from πλέειν, pléein (to sail), due to the role they played in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea. ● Eros: the Greek god of love, and one of the winged love gods, the Erotes. Some myths make him a primordial god, while in others he is the son of Aphrodite.