From the mighty city-states dotting the Greek landscape to the burgeoning ports of Phoenicia, critics throughout the Mediterranean are singing the praises of the seventh century's newest lute sensation—the lovely Sappho!
Poetry lovers throughout the civilized world agree: Not a single voice in the whole of the Ionian Isles more enchantingly captures the flush of adolescent affairs; the sweetness of girls' voices at the Altar of the Moon; or the delicate, crystal clarity of air, wind, water and wine than the beguiling songstress Sappho, the pride of Mytilene in Lesbos!
The verdict is in, and the refined sophistication of Sappho's elegant seven-stringed lyre is all the rage, and her newest collection, tentatively given the preproduction title Yes I Am, hits marketplaces in December.
Ah, Sappho! You have delighted king and fisherman alike, evoking with the slightest turn of phrase the ephemerity of a sun-splashed terrace of Minos' grand palace at Knossos, the hypnotic flow of windblown hair in the infatuated eye and the soft, tender resonance of fine cloth on bare, pale forearms.
But just who is this enchantress? And what does she have to say about the state of poetry today?
"Up until now, poetry has been, I think, more Mycenaean: grand, heroic epics that take hours to sing, with the rhythmic meter pounded out with a big stick," the poetess said in a recent interview. "And though I love Homer, really, I'm a big fan, I'm trying to do something new and lyrical. Being a Lesbian, sure, it's caused some controversy. The island culture here on Lesbos is largely untouched by Pylos, Crete and the kingdoms of the Eastern seas. Even the influence of the Lydian Empire on the mainland is muted. But the lyric meter is something the fans are really responding to, and I'm proud of that."
Added Sappho, "I [ ]/the willow-girl's ankle/Arkhaptia O mine/ the figs [ ]/sweet[ ]brightness."
Dreamily erotic, yet fused with the pain of longing, Sappho's gentle, breeze-blown lyre-plucking accompaniment—the untranslatable "imeros"—gives her captivating words a graceful voluptuousness.
Though future generations will likely know her only through the scattered fragments of her writings painstakingly reconstructed from crumbling papyrus and shattered shards of pottery, her fame will live on always, borne by muses on wings of wind. "Mere air, these words," the lyricist says on a fifth-century kyklix, "but delicious to hear."
Sappho's world tour begins this spring with opening act Pharkopto the Horse-Mounted Gladiator.