Safo Sappho

ISBN: 9788439702054

Published: July 15th 1998


0 pages


Safo  by  Sappho

Safo by Sappho
July 15th 1998 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, AUDIO, mp3, RTF | 0 pages | ISBN: 9788439702054 | 4.62 Mb

A little over a decade ago, I arrived at college. I was crazy about poetry, in the way that many teenage girls are crazy about poetry. My sentiments toward poetry were similar to the sentiments Horace expresses toward the sea god Poseidon in his Ode to Pyrrha: I felt that poetry had, in a very personal and somewhat obscure way, saved my life, saved my sanity. To me, poetry was a sort of magnanimous taciturn Greek god who had ripped me out of the teeth of a hurricane and carried me to safety, and my natural duty was to be henceforth devoted to its practice.

I considered myself a kind of devotee, a kind of temple vestal, charged with reading and writing and proselytizing about poetry.Looking back, I was also woefully illiterate. Sure, I had done well in my high-school English classes, and I had read a slew of classic novels for pleasure during my childhood and teen years.

But what did I really know in those days about poetry, the field that I claimed to be devoted to? The sparse morsels I had gathered from Louis Untermeyers Treasury of Favorite Poems, bought from the Bargain Books section of my local suburban Barnes and Noble store. Scraps of Pablo Nerudas work, which had been recommended to me by a free-spirited boyfriend. Bits and pieces of Arthur Rimbaud and Guillaume Apollinaire, scavenged from paperback anthologies. Contemporary poetry was a cipher to me.

The poetry of ancient Greece and Rome was a mystery to me.The freshman-year roommate that my university had assigned to me was named Sara. Oh, do you love poetry? I love poetry, too! she effused. I noticed that she spoke the word love without hesitation or shyness: she was a gregarious girl of Italian ethnicity who overflowed with personality.

Having been raised by a Vietnamese-American family in Minnesota who valued modesty and propriety above all, I rarely used such personal words as love in my natural speech: it would have felt like standing in front of a crowd and bleeding all over them.Yes, I love poetry, too, I replied cautiously.Sara proudly pointed to a handmade sign that she posted on her bedroom door. In magic marker, she had copied out a quote from a poem: Someone, in another time, will remember us. Sappho.I read the quote, politely, at Saras direction. Then I read it again. It seemed cocky and overly bold to me, the timid girl from Minnesota who was afraid to use the word love in front of strangers.

Who was this unfamiliar poetess Sappho who dared to speak out so confidently, like a prophetess, like the mouthpiece of a god?Youve never read Sappho before? Sara cried incredulously. She stood up from the couch, darted into her bedroom, and re-emerged a few moments later, carrying a slim paperback book.

Here, you must read this. Youll love it. Im obsessed with it.What this paperback book contained was, of course, Mary Barnards lovely free-verse translations of the oeuvre of 6th-century-B.C. Greek poet Sappho. It introduced me to a voice so naked and essential that it now seems strange to me that I had never encountered it before. It taught me that ones personal longings are not to be hidden under the bed like dirty underwear, but have a kind of god-sanctioned dignity all their own.Sapphos words have a deceptive simplicity. They seem innocuous, but, on further thought, are actually rigged with explosives.

They are heart-stoppingly daring in their blasphemies. Sappho dares to proclaim that she is certain she will achieve poetic immortality. She dares to proclaim that she knows for a fact that an enemy of hers is destined to be forgotten after death. She dares to proclaim that romantic love is no less historically important than warfare. Without shyness, Sappho lets us, her audience, eavesdrop as she prays aloud to the goddess Aphrodite, addressing the deity with breathtaking directness and sacrilegiously imagining the words that the deity will say to her in reply.

In our presence, Sappho recites the symptoms of her sexual desire, as if speaking to a physician, and it is a litany of such intimacy and potency that it hushes our heartbeats.I didnt know what poetry was before I read this book. I know now.

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