The Linnet's Wings The Sorrow - Page 41

The Linnet´s Wings 3 The library at Alexandria once held nine volumes of Sappho’s works. Her poetry was known throughout the Mediterranean; very little survives. Some think the early Christian Church destroyed her works. In any case, we have Sappho's works, once so popular, only as a half dozen reconstructed poems and several dozen fragments, gathered from potshards and mummy wrappings. By happy accident, one Sappho poem was entirely preserved but only because the rhetorician Dionysius of Halicarnassus used it as a textbook example of excellent expression. In our monotheistic world, Greek gods have become decorative or mere examples of how pre- scientific peoples explained the unexplainable. We delight in those gods and tell their stories to our children to excite their imaginations before they settle down to managing a cost-estimated reality. Still, we retain hints of their powers. Aphrodite (Venus) and her cupids, haunt our dreams, both night and day. Ares (Mars) directs our national policy far more forcefully than Jesus does. Indeed, Ares even guides our business ethic, too, where warfare provides the metaphors for getting ahead. And we invite God to strike us dead – with one of Zeus’ (Jupiter’s) lightning bolts – when we protest our truthfulness, even while we know God postpones our punishments until the Day of Judgment. Occasionally, it may occur to us, as it did to Wordsworth (“The World is Too Much with us,” 1805) that these gods were real to ancient people. Wordsworth’s poem imagines that gods lived in a richly embellished world where our inner experience shared force with all creation, and where the natural world, peopled with Olympian figures, was personified without embarrassment. Before the soul became spiritualized, and bodies demoted to mere means of transportation for spirit, gods spoke to us. In that world all was invested with the energies and intelligences of fabulous beings, and every hill and stream told a story that made them and us magical. Wordsworth’s speaker, in his disgust at having a mind framed by the bland "getting and spending" of his commercial time, bursts out: Great God! I'd rather be A pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea. Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn. The speaker yearns for primitive imagination that sees and hears the ocean gods instead of calculating beach-front rentals as any sensible person would. It is not clear in the poem whether the speaker completes his journey back to the vital perceptions of ancient times. However, the speaker is convinced these go ́ɽٔѡɍ́ɔݕɔɕѼ̸()QչݽM̀!嵸Ѽɽє́ѡЁͽЁMյ́ѡ)̰ݡɕ́ȁѡЁѡȁѥєɕѥQɅͱѥ́م䰁Ёѡ䁅ͥ锁ѡ)յɽ́ѥ䁉ݕѡչݽѡ̰ݼɱ́ɥѽѡ)U她ɽєȁɥͽѡɽ՝ѕȁíݕٕȁ͕ϊP)9܁$ɕ́(