Sunday, February 7, 2016

Posted for Ruth McCrary

Sappho Response

I will admit that my mental approach to this assignment was to just “get it
over with” so to speak, but I was actually moved by one of the poems I found.
The poem is called On What Is Best, and is, not too surprisingly, a love poem.
However, the part that moved me personally is what the poem is saying about
love; that it is the “best” thing. The poem begins with mentioning other aspects in
life, from the time period, that are thought of as great or glorious such as knights
and ships battling at sea. It then goes on to express that while these experiences
or events are valued by some, the speaker of the poem does not value them.
The speaker refers to these instead as military spenders that should not be
thought of as something loved above all else. An interesting aspect about this
moment in the poem is how the speaker seems to be addressing the reader as if
to say that we should also not value these military experiences above all else.
The speaker then begins to talk about Helen and how her beauty was unmatched
as was her life with her royal husband and child. However she left this life to take
the “a strangers hand” because of love. The speaker then goes on to say what I
believe to be the theme or lesson of the poem which is “love then is the power
that none can disobey”. I will admit that using an example of the supposedly most
beautiful women of all time leaving royalty to be with a stranger solely for love is
a pretty good way to make that argument. This is all lovely then, very nice
statement about love indeed, but then I began to wonder why the speaker was
talking about this, and I got my answer in the last bit of the poem. “So too my
thoughts must follow my darling far away”, thats it then, the speaker is longing for
their own love that is, of course, out of reach. This also explains why the speaker
chose to use Helen as the example. Unfortunately at this point the poem began
to make me feel a bit un-optimistic because the speaker did not say they would
travel to find their darling. Instead the speaker talks about their thoughts following
their love. This is a shame but it does put a more realistic essence in the poem,
which I suppose may have been a little too cheesy without it. Anyway this hint of
realism still does not take away from the statement of the poem, which the
speaker states one last time. “The sparkle of her laughter would give me greater
joy than all the bronze-clad heroes”, to be perfectly honest this is not my favorite
poem of all time, but as someone who strongly agrees that love is the most
important and powerful experience, I value this poem.

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