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Montrose Voice, No. 159, November 11, 1983
File 017
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Montrose Voice, No. 159, November 11, 1983 - File 017. 1983-11-11. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. March 1, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/25/show/16.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(1983-11-11). Montrose Voice, No. 159, November 11, 1983 - File 017. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/25/show/16

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Montrose Voice, No. 159, November 11, 1983 - File 017, 1983-11-11, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed March 1, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/25/show/16.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Montrose Voice, No. 159, November 11, 1983
Contributor
  • McClurg, Henry
Publisher Community Publishing Company
Date November 11, 1983
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 22329406
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 017
Transcript 16 MONTROSE VOICE / NOV. 11, 1983 Lesbos' Sappho Remains History's Romantic Enigma Feature By Patrick Franklin Plato regarded her so highly that he called her "the tenth muse," a name that bestowed the status of a demi-goddess on her. Catullus quoted her poetry in his own. The ancients carefully kept copies of her nine books of poems. But who was Sappho? The life of the woman whose very name is used as identification for the love between women, and whose birth on the island of Lesbos gives a name to the women who practice that love, is now lost. But "lost" is too kind a word. The memory of Sappho brings with it a legacy of talent and genius that was too startling a burden to be borne by generations of men for whom the love of woman for woman was vile, and who demanded that the place of women must be subservient. But she lived. More important, she wrote, and in such a way that the minds of her contemporaries were Btunned by the perfection of her writing. Small-minded men could burn her books and try to erase her memory, but not completely. To do so would have required that they censor or destroy many of the works of the great male thinkers who admired and quoted her. She was born in the late 7th century B.C. When, exactly, is lost in time along with the date of her death. We know the name of her father, Seamandronymus, who died when she was only six, and we know that he must have been a relatively wealthy man because of the position in society that Sappho enjoyed. She had three brothers, who, from the poetry that remains, must have been spendthrifts. Very little else of unquestioned truth remains from independent sources. What few hints can be assumed come from the interior evidence of her poetry. She was a friendly correspondent with the poet Alcaeus, and the two of them were considered leaders of the Aeolian school of poetry. More important by today's standards is that she apparently presided over a feminine literary set at Mitylene, writing short poems to the charms of some of those women. It is on the basis of those small fragments that her highly regarded reputation rests. They show an unquestioned command of feeling expressed in perfect, disciplined form. It was this, her ability to combine emotional depth with classical purity, that made her not only the greatest woman poet of Greece, but one of the great poets of all time. Solon, hearing one of her verses recited, declared that he could not die until he had learned it. Passing references indicate that she was married and had borne a son. Still, those references never show the depth of feeling, the sincerity and the grace with which she described her feelings for her women friends. That bothered even the ancients, and they believed a legend that Sappho had thrown herself from the Leuc- adian Rock in frustration at having failed in love with a young man, Phaoan. Though the story was disproved by Roman times, it was continued by later writers who could not understand a woman who was complete without male com panionship. She, in turn, frustrated other writers by refusing to consider the passing scene. She ignored the eternal strife and struggle of the Greeks and their interminable civil wars. Her poetry concerned eternal values, those of love and the relationship of common people with the infinite. Perhaps the only complete poem that survives is a hymn to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Her entire output of nine books of poetry was small, even for those times. In her own words, they were "roses, but roses all." There were no thorns or faded blossoms in those books, and they survived at least until the destruction of the Library in Alexandria, completed by the Arabs in 640 A.D. The fathers of the church had little use for her poetry, and all copies of Sappho's verse were summarily burned when discovered. They offered no support to the views of those men, unlike the writing of other "pagans," and posed a real threat to the idea of male supremacy that the early church was so devoted to. Sappho seemed to be a dead issue. Even today, when we are left with only tantalizing fragments of what must have been an exciting body of work, the old prej udices appear. Robert Graves, writing the The White Goddess, a volume extolling the role of women in poetry and art, tells of his discussion with a professor about the poetry of Sappho. "Tell me, sir," he asked, "do you think Sappho was a great poet?" The Oxford don looked up and down the street to see if anyone was listening. "Yes, Graves," he whispered, "that's the trouble. She was very, very good." Humanity can be proud that one woman in its early history stands as a monument to the ability of all who face prejudice. At the same time, we must mourn for the vicious destruction of her art. Willa Cather said it best. "If of all the lost riches we could have one master restored to us, one of all the philosophers and poets, the choice of the world would be for the lost nine books of Sappho." Franklin, of Carmel, Calif., is the director of Stonewall Features. &1983 Stonewall Features Syndicate. wmmmmmmmmmmmmmtfs/"■'<'■<■■■ ■■■■■ '*:< ,. .,.•■*■<• .'"<■•""..-, //v////..*>wm&uh >.■/"/-.'/.',.-,;v/^..,/.<•'■■/.-;•.■.■ /
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