SYMPTOMS OF LOVE
by Robert Graves
Love is universal migraine,
A bright stain on the vision
Blotting out reason.
Symptoms of true love
Are leanness, jealousy,
Are omens and nightmares -
Listening for a knock,
Waiting for a sign:
For a touch of her fingers
In a darkened room,
For a searching look.
Take courage, lover!
Could you endure such pain
At any hand but hers
Sappho's immortal poems are difficult to translate. What is freaking amazing is how many other gifted poets have done so, including Lord Byron and Tennyson. Check out this amazing web page with dozens of translations of the same gorgeous Poem of Jealousy. Just stunning artistic work about our shared humanity, and the different creative takes on it. And thanks to the incomparable Robert McKee for calling my attention to the poem in the first place in his new Romance Genre screenwriting day. At the moment, Paul Roche's is my favorite:
POEM OF JEALOUSY
He is a god in my eyes, that man,
Given to sit in front of you
And close to himself sweetly to hear
The sound of you speaking.
Your magical laughter — this I swear —
Batters my heart — my breast astir —
My voice when I see you suddenly near
Refuses to come.
My tongue breaks up and a delicate fire
Runs through my flesh; I see not a thing
With my eyes, and all that I hear
In my ears is a hum.
The sweat runs down, a shuddering takes
Me in every part and pale as the drying
Grasses, then, I think I am near
The moment of dying.