The Reach … The Remembered

I am reminded of the title The Highest Apple: Sappho and the Lesbian Poetic Tradition by Judy Grahn by a fragment from

Sarah Dowling
“This Word: I Want”
Entering Sappho

apple-pickers forgot, you
missed it — the pluckers

and not forgotten are these renderings:

Anne Carson (and its delicious doublewords), If Not, Winter

as the sweetapple reddens on a high branch
high on the highest branch and the applepickers forgot —
no, not forgot: were unable to reach

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Like the sweet apple which reddens upon the topmost
A-top on the topmost twig,—which the pluckers forgot,
Forgot it not, nay, but got it not, for none could get it
    till now.

Gillian Spraggs published in Love Shook My Senses. Lesbian Love Poems

Fragment 105 (a)

A girl
… like the reddening apple,
at the tip of the topmost twig,
which the apple-pickers missed –
or no, not missed entirely;
the one they could not reach.

There’s a trace or Rossetti in the opening line serving as a title in Spraggs

It is first printed in the Penkill Proofs, the first of the prepublication texts DGR prepared for the eventual publication of his 1870 Poems. When it was reprinted in the Tauchnitz edition (1874) DGR changed the title from “One Girl” to “Beauty”, and he kept the latter in his 1881 Poems. A New Edition.

One more for the basket: Anita George in Poetry June 1994.

Fragment 105(a)

You: An Achilles’ apple
Blushing sweet on a high branch
at the tip of the tallest tree.
You escaped those who would pluck
        your fruit.
Not that they didn’t try. No,
They could not forget you
Poised beyond their reach.

Sarah Dowling rings the changes on the theme of the highest apple for many more lines before and after the two quoted above. But I like how the restricted quotation plays up the pronominal play: missed & missing merge “you” as the picker & picked.

And so for day 3044

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