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Erinna -- Antipater of Sidon

Guest poem submitted by Mark Hamilton:
(Poem #1493) Erinna
 Though short her strain nor sung with mighty boast;
   Yet there the power of song had dwelling-room;
 So lives her name for ever, nor lies lost
   Beneath the shadow of the wings of gloom,
 While bards of after days in countless host,
   Slumber and fade forgotten in the tomb.
 Better the swan's brief note than thousand cries
 Of rooks in springtime blown about the skies.
-- Antipater of Sidon
        trans. A. J. Butler

I liked today's poem ["The Silver Swan", by Orlando Gibbons - ed.].
Having sung several of Gibbons' songs in choir in the past few years, it
was interesting to see him from another perspective.  The poem,
especially the last line, reminded me of this poem, which I read a
little while ago.

I think it's "Erinna," by Antipater of Sidon, translated by A. J.
Butler.  I copied it down out of an anthology in a B&B once -- I think
it [the anthology] was called "Man Answers Death".  As far as I can tell
from a little Internet research, Erinna and Antipater of Sidon were
ancient Greek poets.  Antipater of Sidon seems to have written a lot of
epigrams.  (I'm sure someone else knows much more about this than I do.)

I found another translation of the poem on-line:

 Brief is Erinna's song, her lowly lay,
   Yet there the Muses sing;
 Therefore her memory doth not pass away,
   Hid by Night's shadowy wing!
 But we,--new countless poets,--heaped and hurled
   All in oblivion lie;
 Better the swan's chant than a windy world
   Of rooks in the April sky!

        -- Antipater of Sidon
        trans. Andrew Lang

I prefer the first translation, despite the slightly heavy language.  In
particular I like the last two lines -- to me they speak to the quest to
do something extraordinary, which has always been a driving force in my

Mark Hamilton.

[thomas adds]

Here's yet another translation:

 Few are Erinna's lays, nor wordy are her songs,
 But this her little work unto the Muse belongs.
 Thus in remembrance she is held, no hidden thing,
 That the black night conceals beneath its shadowy wing.

 But we, the countless bards, O stranger, of today--
 Our heaped-up myriads in oblivion pass away.
 The low croon of the swan is better than in crowds
 The jackdaws cawing far and wide through spring-time's clouds.

        -- Antipater of Sidon
        translator unknown
        from "Birds and Beasts of the Greek Anthology"
        by Norman Douglas.

Antipater of Sidon is famous as the first person to list the Seven
Wonders of the World; in chronological order, they are:

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
3. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
4. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
5. The Tomb of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
6. The Colossus of Rhodes
7. The Lighthouse of Alexandria

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