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Sunday, August 23, 2015

FOR MY SAPPHIC SISTERS...

Those who know me know that I live and breathe the written word, especially those of poems. I love to write poetry, sometimes due to the urgency of what wishes to escape my soul in expresion I have to write poetry and am currently working on a book that incorporates my photographs with my poems, more specifically my lesbian poems, which I dedicate to my Sapphic sisters.


Not long ago someone asked me about the word Sapphic when I used it in a conversation. It then occurred to me that not everyone may be as big of a Greek Mythology buff as I am, and that prompted me to want to share with you one of my favorite ladies of that era: Sappho (pronounced Saffo). This short bio from Biography.com doesn't do her much justice, but to delve into what is known about her and her poetry would take literally pages of posting: Ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho lived on the island of Lesbos, from which the term lesbian was derived, and wrote poetry expressing her love of women. Synopsis Sappho was born c. 610 B.C. in Lesbos, Greece. She was temporarily exiled to Sicily c. 600 B.C. During her lifetime she wrote love poems expressing her love for both men and women. Sappho died c. 670 B.C. in Lesbos, Greece. Her poems were posthumously compiled into nine books in the third century B.C. As of the 19th century, the word lesbian was thought to be derived from the name of her town.”

One of her poems in particular, He Is More Than A Hero, is probably my all time favorite. It was interpreted for an episode of Xena, Warrior Princess called Many Happy Returns in which Xena went to Sappho and had her write a poem for her to give to Gabrielle on her birthday which relayed her feelings. When I heard this poem on the episode I just had to go online and find this version for it moved me to the very core of my soul. I think if I had to choose only one poem to know and cherish for the rest of my life, it would be this one:


Equal to a god, that person seems to me.
That is, whoever sits across from you,
so close, savouring your sweet voice...
and your thrilling laugh,
that makes my heart reel inside my breast.
For when I look at you, even for an instant,
speech becomes impossible.
words desert me, my tongue broken,
as a swift, subtle flame spreads throughout my skin.
My eyes are blinded,
roaring fills my ears,
cold sweat cascades over me,
and trembling assaults me.
I am greener than the grass,
and in my desperation,
I seem to have come to the very threshold
of Death.
For I am dying, of such love.
But still I must endure all of this...


- by Sappho
Translation by Alexiares”



To my Sapphic sisters and all women who read this post and know what it is like to feel these things for another woman, I dedicate this post to you and hope that you will find as much joy in the recovered stanzas of Sappho's poetry as I do.



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