Sappho, Fragment 2He must be a god, who sits nearSappho, Fragment 2
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enough to listen to the loveliness
of your laughter, and the sweetness
of your voice. My breast is bursting
with blood eager to reach
each fingertip of my clenched fist.
Even a glimpse from across
the room can make me forget
how to speak, how my tongue
moves between my teeth.
And immediately a silken flame
burns underneath my skin,
my vision darkens, a clamor of ringing
fills my ears, I become damp
with fever, and my body is seized
Then I am paler than winter
wheat, and in this fit of madness
I am little better than dead.
And, though it all is foolishness, still
I will tell you.
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All we do is dig,
keep our shovels moving.
Move earth, mound it up,
carve it with dull blades
of prayer. You dont need faith
to move a mountain;
You make it something else,
something less real.
Something you couldnt believe
unless you laid your hands on it.
This was what my father taught me
that God meant. That the real test
was the labor of Isaac,
how he must have known
that we build our deaths
on obediencewe work
though, as the ram works to free itself
from the thicket. In these ditches
we dig out foundations,
we dig paths for water, we dig
basements, places for underpinning,
we dig out trenches, we dig quiet
places of rest, all six feet of grandfathers grave,
we dig when our shovels hit clay,
we dig for fear of rain, we dig
to free ourselves. We dig
to point toward a hill and exclaim
we worked there
That God may have made this world,
but we work like hell to make it ours.