Sappho (Σαπφώ) was a Hellenic lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos (Λέσβος) around 620 BC, although the exact date is unknown. She wrote beautiful and highly romantic poetry that comes and goes straight to the heart, and left behind a great volume of poems of which only one complete poem survives until today, along with substantial portions of four others. It seems, though, that two new works have been recovered recently. They came to light when the owner of an ancient papyrus consulted Oxford papyrologist Dr. Dirk Obbink about the Greek writings on the document he possessed.

The Greek Reporter reports Dr. Obbink's conclusions:

“The new Sappho is the best preserved Sappho papyrus in existence, with just a few letters that had to be restored in the first poem, and not a single word that is in doubt. Its content is equally exciting.

One of the two recovered poems speaks of a Charaxos and a Larichos, the names assigned by ancient Greeks to two of Sappho’s brothers, though never before found in Sappho’s own writings. The poem is set to cause discussions about whether or not the two men are Sappho’s brothers. It depicts an exchange between two people concerned about the success of Charaxos’ latest sea voyage. The speaker may be Sappho herself, but the loss of the poem’s initial lines makes this unclear. A horizontal line on the papyrus indicates the end of the first poem and the beginning of the next, an address to the goddess Aphrodite. Only scattered words from this second poem can be recovered from the papyrus, which grows more tattered and illegible to the end.

The two poems share a common meter, the so-called Sapphic stanza, a verse form perhaps devised by Sappho and today bearing her name. Both belonged, therefore, to the first of Sappho’s nine books of poetry and their recovery gives a clearer glimpse into the makeup and structure of that book. All the poems of Sappho’s first book seem to have been about family, biography, and cult, together with poems about love/Aphrodite.”

Because of copyright issues, I'm not allowed to reprint the poems--and there isn't an English translation available to begin with--but Dr. Obbink's report (which includes the poems themselves) can be legally downloaded from here. It included further details about the document and the poems in question and is a really good read. I'm very excited about this discovery, as Sappho is one of my all-time favourite poets, and 2004 saw the previous discovery of more of my work. This recent discovery has raised my hopes of more of her works being discovered in the years to come.