Josephine Balmer has accomplished an enormous feat by translating and compiling the spectacular works of legendary Greek Woman Lyric Poet, Sappho, in her book: Sappho- Poems and Fragments. But not only has she skillfully composed a collection of her poetry, Josephine Balmer has also provided a highly competent and objective guide to Sappho’s work and Sappho herself, including the views of scholars and other literary authorities. Balmer also gives a deep insight into Sappho’s life backed by a sound historical knowledge and evidence obtained about this exceptional poet, who was thought to have lived around 600BC on the island of Lesbos.
The poems and fragments themselves have been split into nine sections or subjects, namely: Love; Desire; Despair; Marriage; Mother and Daughter; The Goddess of Love; Religion; Poetry and the Muses; and Nature and Wisdom. It is suggested that readers take careful note of the introduction and translation notes, as well as the glossary, chronological table and key to the fragments, which should be referred to in order to gain a greater and easier understanding of the texts.
Sappho’s style of writing could be described as poignant, sensuous and well defined. Making an honest commentary on the culture of her society, (and often wittily hinting at the hypocrisy thereof) as well as unveiling her worship of Aphrodite and the Muses, there is a certain fascinating quality to Sappho’s openness. And, mostly reflecting her innermost feelings for the women she loved, this statement is cemented. And it is for that reason that Sappho’s poetry might, and has been viewed by some, as somewhat controversial.
But considering Sappho’s acclaimed skill as a poet- her exquisite metaphorical usage, her intense yet delicate approach of love, and her masterful manipulation of words, it would surely seem unthinkable to deny the sheer brilliance of her well loved artistry.