Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sappho Reading

     Sappho has always been a large influence in how I come to form a lot of my own poetry. I wish more original pieces existed. As I was reading I couldn't stop myself from thinking about how Sappho would have actually physically put the words on the page. How, if when she was painting images with words, were the words also an image...(?) themselves? Was there punctuation? The relationship to the words and the physical space of the page is a crucial element to understanding any poetry, but especially in this instance would have greatly heightened the experience. I am also curious to know about the translations of Sappho's work.
      In any case, Sappho makes me incredibly sad. The poem that has resonated with me the most over the past week was #4 on the website "It Seems To Me." She is so soft, and seemingly powerless in this situation of seeing a woman she has feelings for with a man. She feels so deeply for this woman that she says in her first line "It seems to me he is equal to the Gods," that this woman depicted is so unobtainable that only a mythical being could capture her. It seems also strange to me that a man is the subject of a whole entire stanza. How he entirely captures the attention and love of the girl Sappho refers to. This stanza seems entirely out of place in this poem and a lot of her poems. The scene she is seeing, describing almost has no meaning. In the next stanza it seems that maybe for a moment Sappho is fine with watching from a distance, that seeing her happy "stops the sighs within me." Following this statement are many lines of almost.. despair. She is frozen in this moment, unable to talk she describes her skin burning "a fire rages" depicting anger, maybe in herself that she feels so helpless. She is clearly showing jealousy, she loves a girl who does not, could not lover her back and is now in the company of a man, and envy of the man for having what she would give up her life to have (penis). Her language is incredibly real, it is very to the point which is an element of her work that i enjoy because it is not coated in 50 layers of literary traditions. But in this poem Sappho plays a lot with the passage of time, or not at all. Her use of the phrase "he/she seems" makes time seem indefinite, that possibly there is no physical scene actually unfolding infront of Sappho but that maybe it is an illusion. Possibly Sappho has seen this scenario before but now continues to replay the moment in seeming tourment.  Maybe fair to say that this poem is a dedication to Sappho's feelings.

No comments: