but i say it is what you love
November 11, 2016
title: but i say
material: ink on paper
dimensions : 11 x 7.6 cm
photos : sarah hautcouer
stamp created for dare-dare‘s 2016 passeport
Some men say an army of horse and some men say an army on foot
and some men say an army of ships is the most beautiful thing
on the black earth. But I say it is what you love.
Anne Carson in If Not, Winter : Fragments of Sappho (2002)
“But I say it is what you love,” from a poem entitled, “Anactoria” composed by Sappho (born circa 630 B.C.) is Sappho’s rebuttal to Homer’s Iliad, an epic poem celebrating the war of Troy. Here, Sappho’s love is not an abstract ideal, but rather a tangible love directed towards one woman named Anactoria.
By placing the love of one person for another above the love of country Sappho undermines the rhetoric of war and consequently undermines the idea of borders and hence their policing. In today’s world, where ironically the island of Lesbos (where Sappho was born and lived, and the source for the word lesbian, which signifies a woman who loves other woman – like those from the reputed homosexual band associated with Sappho of Lesbos) is the location where the Syrian refugees are landing in Greece, the poem “Anactoria” could be read as a call for a compassionate approach to borders, passports and territories.