Barnard's version is Sappho transformed into modern English poetry. The reader is spared the scholarly apparatus of Campbell's version and does not confront the poem as a fragment of a longer poem preserved for us by an ancient grammarian. Instead, Barnard has made a number of changes to help the fragment stand on its own. First, as with all of the Sappho fragments she translates, she has given the poem a title, "With his venom." The line is not in the Greek, but helps alert the reader to an aspect of the main theme of the fragment. Second, Barnard has played freely with the word order, dividing the poem into three two-line stanzas instead of preserving the simple two-line structure of the Greek. Third, she has emphasized to great effect elements that are there in the Greek, especially in her last stanza. She has translated the Greek word orpeton vividly as "reptile-like," and the verb doneo as "strikes down." The result is to make the work stand on its own as a beautiful, vivid piece of poetry. Barnard does inform the reader that this fragment is preserved in Hephaistion, but does so unobtrusively in a brief set of notes in the back of the volume.
Another example of Barnard's virtues as poet and translator can be seen in her version of one of Sappho's most famous poems:
Some say a cavalry corps,
some infantry, some, again,
will maintain that the swift oars
of our fleet are the finest
sight on dark earth; but I say
that whatever one loves, is.
This is easily proved: did
not Helen-she who scanned
the flower of the world's manhood-
choose as first among men one
who laid Troy's honor in ruin?
warped to his will, forgetting
love due her own blood, her own
child, she wandered far with him.
So, Anactoria, although you
being far away forget us,
the dear sound of your footstep
and light glancing in your eyes
would move me more than glitter
of Lydian horse or armored
tread of mainland infantry.
This poem, unlike the fragment discussed earlier, survives not in a quotation from a later Greek author but in a poorly preserved papyrus from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. In the original papyrus, two of Sappho's original five stanzas were so badly damaged that parts of the text cannot be completely reconstructed. Barnard, following earlier scholars, supplies words necessary to complete the sense in stanzas four and five of her translation. What she has done can best be judged by comparing her stanzas four and five with the same passage in A.M. Miller's translation (Greek Lyric: An Anthology in Translation, Indianapolis, 1986) that indicates where the papyrus is defective:
noblest of men, to sail away to Troy;
neither of child nor of beloved parents
did she take thought at all, being led astray by . . . .
[one line missing]
. . . for pliant. . .
. . . lightly . . .
. . . now has brought Anaktoria to my mind,
though she is absent:
Miller's translation gives the reader an accurate knowledge of the state of the papyrus and the lacunae in Sappho's poem, and it can be useful for scholars who want this level of detailed information. For other readers, however, this verbatim translation can be off-putting.