I want to take things back in time. 2,500 years, and to the eastern Mediterranean. Let's go back to a time when Rome had not yet been founded, and the isle that would become known as Britain was unknown wilderness. A time when even gunpowder would have seemed like magic - something like a gift from the ancient gods. In such a time lived Sappho of Lesbos. I recently read a small collection of her poems, one of those Penguin little black classics. I read it in about 10 minutes, and was just blown away by it. What impressed me, and what remains with me still, is how human the poems are. How beautiful is the 'soul' (for lack of a better word) of the poet. It's obvious Sappho was sexually liberal - the love poems here are addressed to both men and women, and they are pretty upfront about sexuality. And the poems become even more poignant in that they survive (for all but 2 or 3 complete poems) entirely in fragments. The age of the manuscripts and unknown damage done to them has meant we now have Sappho only in snapshots - we can only imagine what the full poems were like. It makes me sad to realize how little of her work has survived, and it's frustrating too. Like reading a lot of Anglo-Saxon verse, you can be reading what appears to have been a very powerful and brilliant poem but then see the dot dot dot ellipsis signifying the original manuscript is too damaged or tattered to read. But the poems. Oh the poems. They are still beautiful. Sappho must have led a beautiful life, and even from the small collection I have read there are poems of the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. She is not a dense poet, she is a poet of emotion - of the 'soul'. I'm sure anyone could relate to at least one of Sappho's poems, I know I can. So, here are some. Entirely for your pleasure. *My own footnote: Atthis was the daughter of the Athenian king Cranaus. It is, I assume, being used as way of hiding the name of the actual woman Sappho was in love with. **My own footnote: Andromedia was the wife of Perseus, who defeated Medusa. Well, we did. These poems were first written 2,500 years ago.