Das Meer hort zu mit tausend Ohren: Sappho und die Insel Lesbos.
The antitheses of Lesbos itself reinforce Demski's tendency to think in opposites. The height of a central peak contrasts with low-level eastern beaches often submerged by storms, while high western cliffs bisect an only partial circumference road. Noisy, expensive resort life in the eastern harbor city differs from the lonely poverty of the western hills. On the barren cliffs sheep bells and a picturesque peasant on a mule carrying wool to market attest ancient native industry. A museum donated by a Paris fashion publisher displays modern French artists, while the beautiful new government-built Home Museum on a hilltop without guards or paybooths stands empty but for some fragments of broken crockery. The statuettes with archaic smiles were stolen centuries ago.
For millennia invaders have pirated and ruled here. Foreign rulers sent young Sappho away from her wealthy estate into political exile in Sicily. She took Homer along by memory and returned to found a hilltop poetry institute, as archeologically proven by the unearthing of Sappho coins. Demski prints her own effective translations from Greek of fragmentary stanzas by Sappho. Many tourists clattering past on motorbikes or sitting in outdoor cafes despite the pervasive smell of pollution and urine have never heard of Sappho.
With ever lively detail and quick staccato articulacy, Demski compels us in this handsome little volume to experience Sappho and her island.
Marjorie L. Hoover New York