This poem is written by a Greek Lyric poet named Sappho somewhere in the early 6th century. Most of her work was lost or is present in fragments. This lyrical song written by Sappho is known as the 16th fragment of Sappho or The Anactoria Poem, where Anactoria is her love and the poem is addressed to her.
Some of the fragments of the poem are provoking and the language is straightforwardly descriptive. For instance the phrases used in the poem, ‘thronging cavalry’, ‘sparkling glance’, ‘glittering armor’. The poem started with the philosophical content and at the end we find it to be a poem of love. Beauty is another word for love and it is always admired for instance Helen of Troy had a glittering face and all her power is enlightened in Sappho’s poem. She betrays her husband, child and parents as she fell in love with someone else, which resulted in war. Sappho portrays Helen as an object of desire with powerful feeling of love. The poem evokes the feeling of love when one reads it thoroughly, and brings one towards the thought that logic is overwhelmed by beauty. That is when you find something to be beautiful you forget about other things and love it the most.
The magical image viewed in the poem is the earth which is viewed from the space and everything that one loves is beautiful. Sappho emphasizes Helen’s beauty in the poem and brings up the idea of how the most stunning Helen abandons her family and moves to Troy for love. Moreover, Sappho relates to her personal life where she recalls her love for Anactoria. The simple language used gives a clear picture of the entire scene where we find “troops in Lydia wearing glittering armor” in their chariots proceeding towards their destiny. She utilizes imagery to highlight that the magnificence of one person takes control over aggressiveness in beauty.
Her poems were basically songs bringing a new turn in the style of poems in the Greek Era, which were mostly epic and had heroes and gods. She became very popular introducing the western culture through her poems. The lesbian love portrayed in her poems was not penalized. She introduced love up to an adorable extent in her poems which had a melodious rhythm. Through her poems a great change was found in the behavior and living styles of women. Her poems portrayed that it was the right thing to get married to the person of an opposite sex. In her poems the women were given a different status and had respect and were honored by men. She created her own style of writing and did not merely follow the traditional meter, rhyme and rhythm. Nevertheless she wrote poems in four line stanzas called the Sapphics. This style was imitated by European poets like Horace and a number of modern poets Anne Carson, John Fredrick Nims and Ezra Pound. Her lyricism impressed the western culture where Sappho highlighted love around which life revolves. Love was the greatest beauty as we find in Helen. The love we find in her poem is love of friends, gods and goddesses. The evidences in the poem relate less to the fear and hatred found in many of the Greek cities.
The poem is a melodious masterpiece of the Greek Era and in my opinion accuracy of imagery used in the poem makes you feel a part of the situation. The language is easy and understandable as the vocabulary used is clear and to the point. However the social behavior of the women in the poem is not very likable because Helen betrays her husband and daughter and leaves them behind for her love for someone else. This enlightens a selfish behavior of a mother and a wife which is not acceptable. Overall I find the poem well written and interesting bringing forward a very sensitive social issue which was applicable in the past and as well as in the modern times.
Smith, Sarah E. Poem of the Week 3/17/2008: The Anactoria Poem. Poem of the Week. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.
“Sappho”. Answers.com. 2012. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.
Clark. Christina A. “Sappho of Lesbos”. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.