Living Music

Sappho’s descendant, I am
once again this time,*
here where she walked in the hills,
and bathed in the silken sea;
where she created beauty,
where she forged her consummate craft
and generated full surrender
to the passion of her art.
Nearly all of her lyrics lost,
poems on papyrus rolled into graves,
the crushed and scuttled work of genius;
destroyed, dangerous poems that venerated eros,
so potent that they terrified a Pope.**

Once again this time,
hearken to reverberations
still travelling in space,
let them be restored to living music.
By your inner hearing, lean through eons
and listen to her pluck her lyre.
Sitting rapt, attending, by the sea,
alongside her beloved students,
let her mesmerizing words
wash their many meanings through your body.
Oh! Even songbirds shush to hear,
and Aegean waves
curl their rhythm to the songs of Psappha**.

©Susa Silvermarie 2019

*Gregory Nagy: The expression ‘once again this time’ is my translation of the word dēute as used three times in Song 1 by the great poet Sappho. The meaning of this word captures the recurrent many-sidedness of the songs attributed to Sappho, admired as one of history’s greatest masters of songmaking.

** Pope Gregory VII ordered Sappho’s works burned in 1073, over 1600 years after her death.

***Sappho’s name in her native Aeolic dialect


One Response to “Living Music

  • Ro Hanus
    7 months ago

    WOW!! Once Again This Time…I love the feeling in this, a memory, a repetition, a ’round’ in a song. The images are fantastic, too. I’m so happy to have had this opportunity to journey so deeply into Sappho’s life and legacy. The popes were/still are jealous of her potency.
    Is that Sappho or Athena, holding the owl? So cool. Welcome, welcome, home… wherever She finds you, dear Susa.

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