What does the poem "Like the Very Gods" by Sappho mean?

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Not much is known about the ancient Greek poetess Sappho . She was born around 615 BCE on Lesbos, a Greek island. We know that she came from a wealthy family, that she had several brothers, and that her daughter was named Cleis. She was considered a great lyric poet—the...

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Not much is known about the ancient Greek poetess Sappho. She was born around 615 BCE on Lesbos, a Greek island. We know that she came from a wealthy family, that she had several brothers, and that her daughter was named Cleis. She was considered a great lyric poet—the philosopher Plato called her the "Tenth Muse." The style of meter she employed in her work is now known as Sapphic meter. In modern times, Sappho is often considered to be a symbol of female homosexuality, and many of her surviving verses are interpreted as homoerotic. In fact, the word "lesbian" comes from the name of Sappho's home island, Lesbos. This is important in interpreting the poem "Like the Very Gods."

"Like the Very Gods" is a love poem written to a woman. Sappho is saying that the man who is close to the woman she loves, who can look into her eyes and hear her soft voice and her laughter, is like the very gods because of the pleasure and joy he must feel. However, Sappho's spirit and heart are broken. She cannot speak, and she is so sick that she feels she will die because she wants so badly to be close to the woman she is speaking to in the poem. However, there is nothing she can do to express her feelings—as she writes, "my lips are stricken to silence."

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