Yesterday, I finally managed to catch up with Margaret Mountford’s programme on the early Greek poet Sappho. Sappho came from the Island of Lesbos and gave birth to western romantic tradition of poetry, the first female writer in western history. At that time poems were sung to the accompaniment of the lyre. It was said that the girls of Lesbos were the sexiest girls in the whole of Greece and since Sappho’s sexuality was blurred and she loved her girls more than the men, it termed the phrase lesbian in modern society, however back in the day, Sappho’s day, a lesbian was someone who gave a guy a great blow job………………
Sappho’s work has been mainly forgotten over the centuries until in the late 19th century manuscripts, strips of papyrus, were discovered in the Nile Valley containing many of her poems.
She inspired a generation of late 19th Century, early 20th Century female writers, many who had to use male pseudonyms to have their work published. One of her most famous disciples is Hilda “H.D.” Doolittle, an American poet known for her association with the avant-garde Imagist group.
This is one of my fav Sappho poems, which one is yours?
Come back to me, Gongyla, here tonight,
You, my rose, with your Lydian lyre.
There hovers forever around you delight:
A beauty desired.
Even your garment plunders my eyes.
I am enchanted: I who once
Complained to the Cyprus-born goddess,
Whom I now beseech
Never to let this lose me grace
But rather bring you back to me:
Amongst all mortal women the one
I most wish to see.
Translated by Paul Roche