In A Girl Loves a Girl, British poet Jeremy Reed revamps Sappho, the legendary archaic Greek lyric poet from the island of Lesbos. As with all his audaciously frontline poetry and fiction, Reed places history as now in the present, mediated over by update, rather than consigned to the irretrievable past. As a pioneering reaction to academic attempts to literally recreate a poetry that exists only in fragmentary form, he remakes and expands on the possibilities of meaning in predominantly same-sex motivated poetry in a way that will bring one of the greatest poets of ancient Greece alive to 21st-century readers. Only Jeremy Reed would dare override scholars from the viewpoint of presenting Sappho in a legacy that extends to new generations of her admirers, as a symbol of love and desire between women.
Perhaps the most perilous and the most alluring venture in the whole field of poetry is that which Mr. Carman has undertaken in attempting to give us in English verse those lost poems of Sappho of which fragments have survived. The task is obviously not one of translation or of paraphrasing, but of imaginative and, at the same time, interpretive construction. It is as if a sculptor of to-day were to set himself, with reverence, and trained craftsmanship, and studious familiarity with the spirit, technique, and atmosphere of his subject, to restore some statues of Polyclitus or Praxiteles of which he had but a broken arm, a foot, a knee, a finger upon which to build. Mr. Carman's method, apparently, has been to imagine each lost lyric as discovered, and then to translate it; for the indefinable flavour of the translation is maintained throughout, though accompanied by the fluidity and freedom of purely original work.
The Greek poet Sappho was one of the greatest poets in classical literature. Her lyric poetry is among the finest ever written, and although little of her work has survived and little is known about her, she is regarded not just as one of the greatest women poets, but often as the greatest woman poet in world literature. She lived on the island of Lesbos around 600 BC, and even in her lifetime, her work was widely known and admired in the Greek world. Plato called her 'the tenth muse', and she was a major influence on other poets, from Horace and Catullus to more recent lyric poets. Yet in later centuries, speculation about her sexuality has tended to diminish her poetic reputation. One medieval pope considered her so subversive that her poems were burnt. Some of her poems were written for the women she loved, but her circle of women friends and admirers was not unlike Socrates' circle of followers. She may have been a lesbian in the modern sense, or she may not, but to call her a lesbian poet is an over-simplification. What remains is her poetry, or the fragments which have survived of it, and her intense, sensuous, highly accomplished love poems are among the finest in any language. First published in 1984 and revised in 1992, Josephine Balmer's edition brings together all the extant poems and fragments of Sappho. In a comprehensive introduction, she discusses Sappho's poetry, its historical background and critical reputation, as well as aspects of contemporary Greek society, sexuality and women. This second, expanded edition of Poems & Fragments includes Balmer's versions of new, recently-discovered fragments, including the Brothers Poem, the Kypris Song and the Cologne Fragment. In a new essay on these additions she discusses the issues raised in the translating - and in some cases retranslating - of these fragmentary and ever-shifting texts.
The nine lyric poets were a canon of ancient Greek composers esteemed by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria as worthy of critical study. The most famous of which is probably Sappho, who was born sometime between 630 and 612 BC on the Greek island of Lesbos. The famous Library of Alexandria collected Sappho's poems into nine books, unfortunately these editions have been lost. Today only fragments of the poetess' work remains. These fragments are collected together here in this volume of "The Poems of Sappho and Others" along with fragments of the other Greek monodist lyric poets contemporary to Sappho. Altogether we find the poetry of Alcaeus, Pythermus, Anacreon, Anacreontea, Corrina, Telesilla, Praxilla, Erinna as well as Sappho in this volume of poetry translated by Walter Petersen. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.
"In this expanded edition of his distinguished Sappho: Poems and Fragments (2002), Stanley Lombardo offers over 100 fragments not included in the original edition, as well as the new poems discovered in 2004 and 2014. His translation of this latter material yields fresh insights into Sappho's representations of old age, two of her brothers, and her special relationship with Aphrodite. Pamela Gordon’s engaging, balanced, and informative Introduction has been revised to incorporate discussion of the new fragments, which subtly alter our previous understanding of the archaic poet’s corpus. Complete Poems and Fragments also offers a useful updated bibliography, as well as a section on 'Elegiac Sappho' that presents the reception of the Lesbian poet in later Greek and Latin elegiac poems. A wonderful find for any Greekless reader searching for a complete and up-to-date Sappho. —Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Department of Classics, University of Wisconsin–Madison
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