'And their feet move' by Sappho
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And their feet move
rhythmically, as tender
feet of Cretan girls
danced once around an
altar of love, crushing
a circle in the soft
smooth flowering grass
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, And Their Feet Move
Sappho was a celebrated poet of ancient Greece, known for her works on love, beauty, and desire. Among her prolific works is the poem, "And Their Feet Move," which has been hailed as a masterpiece of Greek literature. This literary criticism and interpretation will explore the themes, symbols, and literary techniques used in the poem to offer a deeper understanding of Sappho's work.
Form and Structure
"And Their Feet Move" is a lyric poem, consisting of three stanzas of unequal length. The poem is written in Sapphic meter, a form of verse named after the poet herself. The meter consists of three long lines followed by a shorter one, with three stanzas in the pattern of 126.96.36.199 syllables. The use of this meter creates a musical quality that adds to the overall emotional impact of the poem.
The poem is also characterized by its repetition and variation of key phrases. The phrase "and their feet move" is repeated throughout the poem, creating a sense of rhythm and movement. The use of repetition and variation is also seen in the first two stanzas where the phrase "like the gods" is repeated with slight variations in meaning.
Love is a central theme in "And Their Feet Move." The poem is a celebration of the beauty and grace of young women dancing. The description of the dancers as "like the gods" reinforces the idea that they are divine beings, worthy of admiration and worship. The poem also explores the idea of desire, with the speaker expressing her longing to "watch them all night long." This desire is not explicitly sexual but suggests a deep emotional connection to the dancers.
Beauty is another important theme in the poem. The dancers are described in terms of their physical beauty, with their "lovely necks" and "fair ankles." However, the poem also suggests that their beauty is more than skin deep. The use of the phrase "like the gods" implies that their beauty is otherworldly and transcendent.
The dancing women are the main symbol in the poem. They are a representation of beauty, grace, and divine inspiration. The use of the phrase "like the gods" suggests that they are connected to the divine and that their dancing is a form of worship. The women are also a symbol of female power and agency. Their movements are described as "bold" and "free," suggesting that they are in control of their bodies and their lives.
The moon is another important symbol in the poem. The use of the phrase "silvered in moonlight" creates an ethereal, dreamlike quality that adds to the overall mood of the poem. The moon is also a symbol of femininity and the cyclical nature of life. Its presence in the poem reinforces the idea of the dancers as divine, celestial beings.
Sappho uses a variety of literary techniques in "And Their Feet Move" to create a vivid, sensory experience for the reader. The use of imagery is particularly effective, with descriptions of "fair ankles" and "lovely necks" creating a sense of physical beauty. The use of repetition and variation also adds to the overall impact of the poem, creating a sense of rhythm and movement.
Sappho also uses metaphor and simile to great effect. The comparison of the dancers to the gods reinforces their divinity and the idea of their dancing as a form of worship. The comparison of their movements to "the light-footed Thracians" creates a sense of exoticism and foreignness, adding to the overall allure of the dancers.
"And Their Feet Move" is a celebration of the beauty, grace, and power of young women. The poem explores the themes of love, desire, and beauty through vivid imagery and powerful language. The use of Sapphic meter creates a sense of musicality and rhythm that reinforces the emotional impact of the poem.
At its core, "And Their Feet Move" is a celebration of female agency and empowerment. The dancers are in control of their bodies and their lives, using their movements as a form of worship and expression. The comparison of the dancers to the gods reinforces their status as divine beings, worthy of admiration and worship.
In conclusion, "And Their Feet Move" is a masterful work of ancient Greek poetry. Sappho's use of imagery, metaphor, and literary technique creates a vivid, sensory experience that captures the beauty and grace of the dancers. The poem's themes of love, desire, and beauty are explored through powerful language and striking imagery, creating a lasting impact on the reader. Overall, "And Their Feet Move" is a testament to the enduring power of poetry to capture the essence of the human experience.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry And their feet move: A Masterpiece by Sappho
Sappho, the ancient Greek poetess, is known for her lyrical poetry that celebrates love, beauty, and the natural world. Her works have been revered for centuries, and her influence can be seen in the works of many modern poets. One of her most famous poems, "Poetry And their feet move," is a beautiful ode to the power of poetry and its ability to move us.
The poem begins with a simple statement: "Some say an army of horsemen, some of foot soldiers, some of ships, is the fairest thing on the black earth, but I say it is what one loves." Sappho is making a bold statement here, challenging the conventional wisdom that military might is the most beautiful thing in the world. Instead, she argues that love is the most beautiful thing, and that poetry is the best way to express that love.
Sappho goes on to describe the power of poetry, saying that "It is easy to make this understood by everyone, for she who far surpassed mankind in beauty, Helen, chose him who had destroyed her own life to be with him." Here, Sappho is referencing the story of Helen of Troy, who left her husband Menelaus for the Trojan prince Paris, causing the Trojan War. Sappho is saying that even someone as beautiful as Helen was moved by love, and that poetry can capture that same power.
The poem then takes a turn, as Sappho describes the physical effects that poetry can have on us. She says that "Their hearts grew cold, they let their wings down," referring to the soldiers and ships that were previously considered the most beautiful things in the world. But when they hear poetry, "their feet move / as if on wings." Sappho is saying that poetry has the power to lift us up, to make us feel as if we are flying. It can move us in ways that nothing else can.
Sappho then goes on to describe the beauty of the natural world, saying that "the earth bursts with the sound of their feet / as they run to bring her news." She is saying that poetry is not just about love and beauty, but also about the world around us. It can capture the sounds and sights of nature, and bring them to life in a way that is both beautiful and powerful.
The poem ends with a simple statement: "In truth, everything is beautiful." Sappho is saying that beauty can be found in everything, if we only take the time to look for it. And poetry is the best way to capture that beauty, to express it in a way that is both powerful and moving.
Overall, "Poetry And their feet move" is a masterpiece of lyrical poetry. Sappho's words are both beautiful and powerful, and her message is one that still resonates today. She reminds us that love is the most beautiful thing in the world, and that poetry is the best way to express that love. She also shows us the power of poetry to move us, to lift us up and make us feel as if we are flying. And she reminds us that beauty can be found in everything, if we only take the time to look for it.
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