Poetry Review: Stung with Love: Poems and Fragments by Sappho (Translated by Aaron Poochigian)

Ruby Sutherland
June 21, 2022

Genre: Poetry / Classical

Perfect for when you’re in the mood for: something light and classical

Here under boughs a bracing spring / Percolates, roses without number / Umber the earth and, rustling, / The leaves drip slumber. / Here budding flowers possess a sunny / Pasture where steeds could graze their fill, / And the breeze feels as gentle as honey . . .

Sappho, the ancient Greek poetess lauded by Plato as the tenth muse, is best known for her poetry about love, longing, desire, death and the mythology of her time. Sappho herself is an enigma, whose mythos within historical accounts ranges from throwing herself from a cliff in star-crossed love to claims that she was a lesbian (purported by some to be the etymological origins of the word lesbian, due to her home island of Lesbos). Adding to her mystery is the fact that very little of Sappho’s poetry remains as she expected it to be: passed down through sung poetry similarly to Homer.

The majority of her poetry gained significant importance and was placed in the Library of Alexandria (the burning of which still causes true historians to cry – I know I do). The loss of the library caused much of her work to be lost; however, we should cherish what little of her gorgeous poetry we have. Stung with Love: Poems and Fragments achieves this with flying colours. Each fragment is given its own page, and each is provided with a detailed description of what the poem could mean, so there is much speculation and theory (time to get that aluminium tin foil out of your drawers). Stung with Love is also separated into different sections, which makes it easier to refer back to fragments that stick with you.

This book is also incredibly short, allowing one to read through it in one sitting, and so making it perfect if you are looking for something short and are just starting to get into poetry. Similarly, if you are like me and you have Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey sitting on your bookshelf taunting you but just can’t commit to such a lengthy endeavour (24 books!), Stung with Love is an ideal stepping stone to begin reading the epics of historical literature.

All in all, I would give Stung with Love 5/5 stars.

Illustration of five stars drawn onto a torn slip of paper.

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