We don’t have any record of Sappho’s music, only fragments of the words she sang. But according to Stobaeus’s Florilegium, Solon once asked his nephew to teach him a song of Sappho's that the boy had just sung him. When asked why, Solon responded "So that I may learn it, then die."
In the lyric fragment, Sappho 31, as Sappho sings to newly-weds in their nuptial chamber, her words betray her feelings toward the bride. Song Before Dying refers to Sappho 31 and adheres to the form of the Sapphic stanza.
"Sing your song, then die," may be words to live by. All else yields to death, like the blood of sunset. Yet I linger here, to be near my torment; watching you watch him.
Laugh, you laugh, and the leaves shake upon the locust, rattling like my heart in the stir of autumn. Lost inside my throat are the words I'd sing you – withered and wasted.
Failed, I failed to sound that you'd hear my heart song. Sweat pours down me now, and I'm seized by trembling. Pale as pale and close to the death I'd welcome; so might I lose you.
Years from now, a heart may be more substantial, wise and true in love, be it unrequited; like the poor girl's song that rang pure and wretched, sung before dying.
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