November 16 ~  Delicious to Hear If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

"Mere air, these words, but delicious to hear." ~ Sappho

Two centuries after her death, Plato called the inventor of personal poetry, Sappho (625-570 BC), "the 10th muse."

Born on the Greek Island of Lesbos, she wrote with unabashed desire about love and death. In creating her very short lyrical poetry, she invented a 21-string lyre to accompany her singing.

"From all the offspring of the earth and heaven," she wrote, "love is the most precious."

Born into an aristocratic family, Sappho shared her writings with her thiasos, a society of women formed for the cultivation of poetry and music.

Acclaimed for simplicity and great depth, her works were collected and edited by Aristophanes in the third century B.C. and greatly influenced many others, including the Roman poets Ovid and Horace.

Biographer Edith Moraher wrote that Sappho's work and name have come to represent the "fascinating, mystery of forbidden love."

The Church called her delicious words "obscene" and burned much of her writing. Only fragments of her Sapphics, the form of personal verse she invented, survive. Among the most passionate are her thoughts on the ageless power of eros. "When desire takes over the body," she wrote, "it puts the heart in my chest on wings."

Eros the Bittersweet Fill the air with delicious words.