Posted by: Tom Triumph | April 15, 2009

31. Don’t Ask Me What to Wear: Sappho

Fashion: Another topic near and dear to a teen’s heart.

What is appropriate? Are there some things that clash? Does fashion have rules (i.e., no white after labor day). What do their parents think? Do they care what their parents think? Ask the boys what is “proper” for a girl to wear, and what do they like to see? What do/should girls wear on a date? Turn the tables as ask about boys. How has fashion changed? How will it? In the end, does it matter?

Are there other traditions that have changed since their parents’ day? Allowance? School? Homework? Birthday and holiday presents? They will have plenty. There is also the issue of social class, and how fashion plays a role.

In the poem, who is Cleis? Figure out who the speaker is. Again, the translation is by Mary Barnard, our poetic patron saint.

Don’t Ask Me What to Wear
Saphho
Translated by Mary Barnard

I have no embroidered
headband from Sardis to
give you, Cleis, such as
I wore
and my mother
always said that in her
day a purple ribbon
looped through the hair was thought
to be high style indeed
by we were dark:
a girl
whose hair is yellower than
torchlight should wear no
headdress but fresh flowers.

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