— Jose Marin
When I first read “In my eyes he matches the gods” by Sappho, it was my first time reading this work of literature. I had read the short poem two days before meeting in class so that I could have a lengthy discussion. Of course, for my own knowledge, I read the overall theme for the other assigned texts for that specific class. The theme for that class date was about “Intoxication”. Since I knew that this was the overall arching theme, I read all these other texts with biased eyes. Reading Sappho’s work, I knew I would be dealing with some form of intoxication but I did not know which form. The only intoxication I was aware of was alcoholic intoxication. By having this “Alcoholic intoxication” theme set in my mind, I read the poem from this perspective. The actions described in the poem are of great similarity to the actions one experiences when they are under the influence of alcohol. I assumed after reading that this poem dealt with a woman and a man drinking. Since they were drinking, they would be naturally going through the motions one goes through while drunk.
I was wrong. With any work of literature, it is open up to interpretations. Yes, the poem does deal with intoxication but not of the drinking kind. When we discussed this poem in class, it was revealed to me that this poem deals how one woman feels towards another woman. It was intoxication being felt emotionally. At this point, I started to understand more of what each line meant. The words hit me differently. With my better understanding and grasp of the theme, I also started to notice details I had not before. Before I had thought that the poem was only dealing with a man and a woman. Turns out that this poem deals with three parties- a man and a woman having a conversation, and a woman observing this woman talking from a distance.
Upon realization that this poem is really about a woman admiring another women from the distance, it opened my mind. I felt woke. Reading poems like this along this course kind of forced my brain to get out of its comfort zone. I grew up on the normative that when a love story is being told that it is usually told from the perepctive of a man liking a woman, a woman liking a man, or both liking each other. That’s the love story I grew up reading. Reading this poem was a different encounter for me. Even though I am open with my sexuality, I had forgotten for a brief moment that love and the emotions one can have for another being can exist in many ways. This is what I enjoyed most. The representation this poem holds is that of the poet Sappho. Sappho writes her deepest emotions and really puts you in the front seat of her story. It is also a cute sentiment to remind everyone that we all get a little nervous when we encounter someone who just makes us feel emotions we cannot control.
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