Influential Greek lyric poet Anacreon wrote songs and hymns for the lyre

Three poems translated by A.S. Kline

  • Odd Sandals

  • Today, Eros, of the golden locks used a
  • purple ball to make me play
  • with a child.
  • A girl, wearing odd sandals.
  • But she, born in beautiful Lesbos,
  • looks at me, finds
  • fault with my
  • hair — it’s grey, you see! —
  • and
  • turns from me to gawk at some other child,
  • Another girl.
  • Prayer to Dionysius

  • Please, Dionysius!
  • Leader of all, whose friends are the omnipotent
  • Eros and the blue-eyed
  • Nymphs and the rosy
  • Aphrodite
  • and whose compass
  • is the high peaks of mountains.
  • Please, be kind enough to come to me and
  • hear my plea with a smile:
  • Go, God, and counsel Cleovoulos well and make him
  • accept my love!
  • Water and Wine

  • I
  • Boy! Bring water and bring wine
  • and bring garlands of flowers
  • that I may do a round or two with Eros
  • II
  • Boy! bring here a cup!
  • and
  • Boy! mix ten cups of water to five of wine
  • and
  • Boy! let me not shut my lips but let me drink
  • and drink and rage like
  • a frenzied Bacchus with
  • impunity.
  • III
  • Come, friends! let’s not shout and scream
  • like Scythian drunks
  • but
  • let us study our wine, friends
  • and
  • accompany its drinking with beautiful songs



Anacreon (582-485 BC) was one of the most influential of the ancient Greek lyric poets, most famous for his songs and hymns about drink, and especially wine. His poems (like all lyric poetry of the ancient world) were composed to be sung and accompanied by music played on the lyre. His poetry was notable for its glimpses of everyday Greek life, as it sang about parties, festivals, and the ordinary events of Greek culture. The Roman poet Horace is often compared to Anacreon, as both were very much poets of the court – attending to royalty by producing on-demand poems of praise and adoration.

A.S. Kline is the author and/or translator of the majority of works hosted by Poetry in Translation (https://www.poetryintranslation.com). He was born in 1947 and lives in England. He graduated in Mathematics from the University of Manchester, and was Chief Information Officer (Systems Director) of a large UK Company, before dedicating himself to his literary work and interests. His work consists of translations of poetry; critical works, biographical history with poetry as a central theme; and his own original poetry. He has translated into English from Latin, Ancient Greek, Classical Chinese and the European languages.

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Finally, a story about a contemporary! Seriously though, we owe the tortured octaves (if not the racist stanzas) of The Star Spangled Banner to toothy toffs in London who got sauced to Anacreon's meters 1,500 years later.

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