Compare and contrast the poems “Sappho 31” (by Sappho) and “Fact” (by Craig Dworkin) using variations on traditional poetic form and content.

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Sappho's Fragment 31 is a love poem, which describes the poet's emotions as she sees a man talking and laughing with her beloved. The poem's content is very passionate, though its form is conventional. It is written, as one might expect, in sapphics, the Greek verse form named after Sappho. The poem has been much translated and imitated, notably by Catullus.

Craig Dworkin's "Fact" appears to be a simple list of the ingredients which make up the sheet of paper on which it is written. This, however, is not so simple. The poet regards the poem as a work continuously in progress. Each time Dworkin displays "Fact," he researches the medium on which it is to appear and alters the poem accordingly. Sometimes it may list the composition of a computer screen. However, it is clear that the poet cannot always control the accuracy of the "Fact." It may be viewed on various different computer screens, or printed out on different types of paper.

Although the two poems are as different in content, subject, and form as two poems can be, they both demonstrate the lack of control the writer has over her/his work when it has been released into the world. Sappho's poem, reimagined by Catullus, becomes heterosexual. Dworkin's can be rendered inaccurate merely by being printed out on a type of paper unknown to the poet. Both demonstrate the instability and mutability of works of art.

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