SAPPHO AND THE LESBIAN REVOLUTION


I’ve been promising to publish a post for my lesbian friends for a little while now. After I committed myself and it was too late to withdraw, I saw that it was going to be more difficult than I first realized.


To put it bluntly, I’m a guy who doesn’t even like the way women smell. What aspect of Lesbian life bears relevance for me, a gay male?


So I went back to the beginning, to Sappho, the patron saint of Lesbian Lovers, who was born on the Greek island of Lesbos, about 600 years before Jesus lived and died.


As I thought about Sappho,it struck me that she was a poet of stature in an era when women didn’t even speak in public.
Poets by definition are revolutionaries and subversives. It’s in the nature of poetry to confound ones expectations and reveal new possibilities.


You’ll find poets in the forefront of every new social movement in history. You’ll also find religious fundamentalists trying to squelch poets and poetry along with any other creative expression. In the long run, poets always win, and the Fightin’ Fundies always lose.
By her words and by her deeds Sappho subverted the social laws that marked out her life’s path for her. She claimed the independence to follow the path marked out by her nature and live according to the deeper law of creation, that all things must live according to their kind.
So I stand with Sappho and her sisters, because until we’re all free, no one is free.


Most of her poetry has disappeared, partly because she wrote in a dialect that went out of use, partly because the Fundies hated her and burned her words. This fragment is particularly beautiful to me.

Some say an army of horsemen, others
say foot-soldiers, still others, a fleet,
is the fairest thing on the dark earth:
I say it is whatever one loves.

5 Everyone can understand this —
consider that Helen, far surpassing
the beauty of mortals, leaving behind
the best man of all,

sailed away to Troy. She had no
10 memory of her child or dear parents,
since she was led astray
[by Kypris] . . .

*
. . . lightly
15 . . . reminding me now of Anaktoria
being gone,

I would rather see her lovely step
and the radiant sparkle of her face
than all the war-chariots in Lydia
20 and soldiers battling in shining bronze.
-Sappho

Selection from Sappho’s Lyre (University of California Press, 1991). Translation copyright 2000 Diane Rayor; all rights reserved.
There’s a lot of great stuff at this website. www.stoa.org/diotima

Be loved,

DEL

Advertisements

10 Responses to “SAPPHO AND THE LESBIAN REVOLUTION”

  1. Red7Eric Says:

    I’m a huge fan of The L Word … can’t say why; it’s just great soap opera. I’m more interested in Bette, Tina, Alice, and Shane than any of the fags on Queer as Folk. I also own every CD ever made by Indigo Girls.

    Basically, I’m a lesbian in a gay man’s body. I even enjoyed the pictures (!!).

  2. Mikey Says:

    To Andromeda
    That country girl has witched your wishes,
    all dressed up in her country clothes
    and she hasn’t got the sense
    to hitch her rags above her ankles.

    –Translated by Jim Powell

    I will also think about your question too…What aspect of Lesbian life bears relevance for me, a gay male?

  3. Foxy Stone Says:

    sorry… lost me at lesbian.
    i ran and hid under my bed.

  4. Ur-spo Says:

    i love a good poem and Sappho was one of the best

  5. Cliff Says:

    This is a great post. I really enjoyed reading it. The pictures look good too. Well, as good as can get for a gay guy anyway, heh.

  6. scumbag Says:

    there are hotter lesbos than that

  7. BarbaraFromCalifornia Says:

    Very sensual pictures, even without using the nose!

  8. Em Says:

    Thank you Daniel. The evil genius that is your ability to find fabulous nakedness transcends gender.

  9. Sober @ Sundown Says:

    Thank you Daniel!

  10. Elizabeth McClung Says:

    a nice tribute – Maybe I should reciprocate by doing a tribute to gay men – except that doing one on Greek gay men would run 40 pages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: