Posted by: Tom Triumph | April 15, 2009

30. It’s No Use: Sappho

Ah, love. Ask any middle school student, and they will tell you that their love is a love that has never been felt before. When you ask them about their parents, they cannot believe that they are in love, were in love, or felt the crazy passion that they believe to be love. The fall is the only thing that seems greater. Of course, it all starts again before you know it.

Ask students if the first line is meant to be sarcastic (a calm line lining up an excuse as love makes the narrator unable to do anything because of a boy). Have they ever been sarcastic? How about the contrast of “soft” and “killed”. Can love kill?

This poem seems almost modern. Notice that it is translated by our poetic patron saint, Mary Barnard, who looks down on us from the top of the page.

It’s No Use
Sappho
Translated by Mary Barnard

Mother dear, I
can’t finish my weaving
You may
blame Aphrodite

Soft as she is

she has almost
killed me with
love for that boy.

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