Sapphic Poets Throughout History

Sappho's sapphic poetry: "Sweet mother, I cannot weave - slender Aphrodite has overcome me
with longing for a girl.
"
Discover some lesbian poets and lesbian poetry you should know about

Sapphic Books   |   Sapphic Poetry   |   First Lesbian Magazines
 

Sapphic Poetry

I'm not a poet, and... I know it! Therefore, this list of lesbian poets throughout history is... short and perhaps sometimes questionable. Forgive me, poetry resonates for me, from song lyrics such as the stellar alliteration of St Etienne, Morrissey...

"And if a double-decker bus, crashes into us to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die. And if a ten ton truck kills the both of us, to die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine." - The Smiths
Bravo to lesbian poets throughout history, who wrote prose and who won amazing accolades for their work such as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, considered one of the greatest Mexican poets and an early advocate of women's rights, Anna de Noailles the first woman to become a Commander of the Legion of Honor, Elizabeth Bishop who won Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Carol Ann Duffy who is the first known LGBT+ poet to hold the position of Poet Laureate in the UK.

Ps - Sapphic Poets vs Sapphic Stanza
Wow! I've just discovered there is a difference between Sapphic poets (waxing lyrical over forbidden love) and Sapphic stanza. Sapphic Stanza / Sapphic Verse is, way out of my league to comprehend nor explain. Named after Sappho (we all know who she is :), who apparently wrote in a distinct meter, Sapphic Stanza / verse is... hmmm... A glass of Cremant to you, if you can explain to me, in one sentence and I can quote, herein. In the meantime, groovers, you can decipher the meaning of Sapphic Verse from poets.org.
Sapphic Poets: Enheduanna

Enheduanna

(l. 2285-2250 BCE) - Akkadian Sapphic Poet

Ask people who the first lesbian or bisexual female poet was? 10p bet - they will say... Sappho. No! :) Centuries prior to Sappho, lived a High Priestess named ... more

Examples Of Enheduanna's Most Acclaimed Poems: Inninsagurra (The Great-Hearted Mistress), Inninmehusa (Goddess of the Fearsome Powers)...

A slick Enheduanna Sapphic poetry quote:

"Carrying my masab-basket, I once entered and uttered my joyous chants... But now I no longer dwell in Your sanctuary." | Ninmesarra (The Exaltation of Inanna) by Enheduanna
Sapphic Poets: Sappho

Sappho

(c. 630 – c. 570 BCE) - Greek Sapphic Poet

As we all know Sappho was a Greek poet from the island of Lesbos who was widely regarded as one of the greatest lyric poets of her time. She primarily wrote love poetry which was written to be sung while accompanied by a lyre. Most of Sappho's poetry is ... more

Examples Of Sappho's Most Acclaimed Poems: Ode to Aphrodite, A Hymn to Venus ( (as Greek Sappho would have known her as Aphrodite)...

A slick Sappho Sapphic poetry quote:

"May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve." by Sappho
Sapphic Poets: Laudomia Forteguerri

Laudomia Forteguerri

(1515 – 1555) - Italian Sapphic Poet

A member of one of the most powerful families in the 16th century Republic of Siena, Laudomia Forteguerri, was an accomplished Italian poet and is considered by some historians... more

Example Of Laudomia Forteguerri's Most Acclaimed Poems: Hora te 'n va superbo - to Margaret of Austria, Emperor Charles V's daughter, who was visiting Siena en route to Rome where her marriage to the pope's grandson, Ottavio Farnese, was to be celebrated.

A slick Laudomia Forteguerri Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Listen to my words, how they are ready to beseech you. Nor do I want anything else but that you keep me close to my goddess." by Laudomia Forteguerri
Sapphic Poets: Poem 49 - Marie Maitland

Poem 49

1586 - Marie Maitland?

Poem 49, a Sapphic love poem written in Scots, which appears in the Maitland Quarto manuscript (containing 95 poems) is one the earliest known instances of sapphic poetry in Europe, since Sappho herself... more

Poem 49 of the Maitland Quarto Manuscript read by Ashley Douglas.

A slick Poem 49 Sapphic poetry quote:

"...3e weild me holie at 3our will [Ye govern me wholly at your will] and raviss [ravish] my affectioun..." by Marie Maitland?
Sapphic Poets: Katherine Philips

Katherine Philips

(1631 – 1664) - Anglo-Welsh Sapphic Poet

In the 17 century, Katherine Philips nee Fowler was one of the first women to become well known as a poet. She wrote more than 120 poems on a variety of subjects but is best known today for her poems on female friendship... more

Examples Of Katherine Philips's Most Acclaimed Poems: Parting with a Friend and Dialogue betwixt Lucasia and Rosania...

A slick Katherine Philips Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Then let our flames still light and shine, And no false fear control, As innocent as our design, Immortal as our soul..." To my Excellent Lucasia, on our Friendship by Katherine Philips
Sapphic Poets: Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn

(1640 – 1689) - English Sapphic Poet

Virginia Woolf wrote in her novel A Room of One's Own: "All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds." ... more

Examples Of Aphra Behn's Most Acclaimed Poems: The Disappointment, The Willing Mistriss...

A slick Aphra Behn Sapphic poetry quote:

"...That we might Love, and yet be Innocent: For sure no Crime with thee we can commit..." | To the Fair Clorinda by Aphra Behn
Sapphic Poets: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

(1648 - 1695) - Mexican Sapphic Poet

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is considered one of the greatest Mexican poets, an early advocate of women’s rights, and some say, Mexico’s first lesbian feminist writer... more

Example Of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz's Most Acclaimed Poems: Hora te 'n va superbo (On the death of that most excellent lady)...

A slick Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Sapphic poetry quote:

"...I walk beneath your pens, and am not what I truly am, but what you'd prefer to imagine me." by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Sapphic Poets: Wu Zao

Wu Zao

(1799 - 1863) - Chinese Sapphic Poet

Wu Zao's clearly homoerotic poems set her apart from the women poets of her era and in China. She was born in the town of Renhe (now Hangzhou) in the Zhejiang province - the... more

Example Of Wu Zao's Most Acclaimed Poems: Bitter Rain In My Courtyard and I Have Closed The Double Doors...

A slick Wu Zao Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Then we paint each other's beautiful eyebrows. I want to possess you completely – your jade body and your promised heart. It is spring..." For the Courtesan Ch'ing Lin by Wu Zao
Sapphic Poets: Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

(1830 - 1886) - American Sapphic Poet

While Dickinson was extremely prolific as a poet and regularly enclosed poems in letters to friends, she was not publicly recognized during her lifetime. The first volume... more

Examples Of Emily Dickinson's Most Acclaimed Poems: I'm Nobody! Who are you?’, "Hope is the thing with feathers"...

A slick Emily Dickinson Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all." | Hope Is The Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson
Sapphic Poets: Annie Adams Fields

Annie Adams Fields

(1834 - 1915) - American Sapphic Poet and Writer

Annie Adams Fields was an an accomplished author and poet. Her publications include several volumes of poetry including: The Singing Shepherd, and Other Poems (1895)... more

Examples Of Annie Adams Fields' Most Acclaimed Poems: The Song-Sparrow, The Coronal...

A slick Annie Adams Fields Sapphic poetry quote:

"...If Poesy thou dost love, and seek to guess, the shadowy coverts where her footsteps roam. Easy they seem and common; yet how rare!" | The Haunts Of Poesy by Annie Adams Fields
Sapphic Poets: Sarah Orne Jewett

Sarah Orne Jewett

(1849 - 1909) - American Sapphic Poet and Writer

Sarah Orne Jewett was an American novelist, short story writer and poet who became a prominent literary figure of her time. Much of her work portrays life in Maine's declining... more

Examples Of Sarah Orne Jewett's Most Acclaimed Poems: A Caged Bird, The Widows' House...

A slick Sarah Orne Jewett Sapphic poetry quote:

"...And sings her brief, unheeded songs. Her dreams of bird-life wild and free. Yet never beats her prison bars, at sound of song from bush or tree." | A Caged Bird by Sarah Orne Jewett
Sapphic Poets: Isa Asp

Isa Asp

(1853 – 1872) - Finnish Sapphic Poet

Isa Asp is considered the "first woman Finnish poet". She began writing poetry (initially in Swedish) as a teenager and started her literary career as a contributor to children’s magazines. Tragically, Isa died of tuberculosis at the tender age of nineteen but left about 100 poems. Her early death meant ... more

Example Of Isa Asp's Most Acclaimed Poems: Aallon kehtolaulu (Lullaby to a Wave)...

A slick Isa Asp Sapphic poetry quote:

"Kerran sinun herättää aurinko. Senpä sulle, rauhaton, hellä silloin suotu on suutelo." | Aallon kehtolaulu (Lullaby to a Wave) by Isa Asp
Sapphic Poets: Polyxena Solovyova

Polyxena Solovyova

(1867 - 1924) - Russian Sapphic Poet

Polyxena (Poliksena) Solovyova was a Russian poet and illustrator and, the sister of the famous poet, philosopher and theologian Vladimir Solovyov. As well as being a poet ... more

Examples Of Polyxena Solovyova's Most Acclaimed Poems: Frost, The Crossroads...

A slick Polyxena Solovyova Sapphic poetry quote:

"... So sweetly, if that mortal stinging, Were not a threat to fruits autumn was bringing: No passion without shade of death." | Unbreakably To Zinaida Gippius by Polyxena Solovyova
Sapphic Poets: Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

(1874 - 1925) - American Sapphic Poet

At 28 years old Amy Lowell turned to poetry after being inspired by a performance of Italian actress Eleonora Duse in Europe. During her life Lowell wrote and published over... more

Examples Of Amy Lowell's Most Acclaimed Poems: The Garden by Moonlight, A Lady...

A slick Amy Lowell Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Tell me, was Venus more beautiful, than you are, when she topped the crinkled waves." | Venus Transiens by Amy Lowell
Sapphic Poets: Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein

(1874 - 1946) - American Jew Sapphic Poet and Writer

Gertrude Stein was an American novelist, poet and art collector who moved from California to Paris in 1903, and made France her home. One of her notable books is... more

Examples Of Gertrude Stein's Most Acclaimed Poems: Stanzas in Meditation, Lifting Belly...

A slick Gertrude Stein Sapphic poetry quote:

"... I think very well of Susan but I do not know her name. I think very well of Ellen but which is not the same." | Stanzas In Meditation: Stanza Ii by Gertrude Stein
Sapphic Poets: Anna de Noailles

Anna de Noailles

(1876 – 1933) - Romanian-French Sapphic Poet

Born a princess, Anna de Noailles was a Romanian-French poet and writer. She wrote three novels, an autobiography, and many volumes of poems including:... more

Examples Of Anna de Noailles's Most Acclaimed Poems: Le Coeur innombrable ("The Numberless Heart"), Les Éblouissements ("Resplendence"), and L'Honneur de souffrir ("The Honour of Suffering")...

A slick Anna de Noailles Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Il n'est rien de réel que le rêve et l'amour." (Nothing is real but dreams and love.)" | ? by Anna de Noailles
Sapphic Poets: Natalie Clifford Barney

Natalie Clifford Barney

(1876 - 1972) - American Sapphic Poet

Natalie Clifford Barney was an American expatriate who lived, wrote and most famously hosted a literary salon in Paris... more

Examples Of Natalie Clifford Barney's Most Acclaimed Poems: How Write the Beat of Love, The Phantom Guest...

A slick Natalie Clifford Barney Sapphic poetry quote:

"... Moon-love, star-love, the love of silver water, The weeping face of love touched in the dark, And murdered joy, lost souls of joy that caught her, A glow-worm's warmth and spark." | More Night! by Natalie Clifford Barney
Sapphic Poets: Renee Vivien

Renee Vivien

(1877 - 1909) - English Sapphic French Poet

Renée Vivien was a high-profile lesbian port in the Paris during La Belle Époque when the arts the arts flourished. Her major works are Cendres et poussières ("Ashes and Dust", 1902);... more

Examples Of Renee Vivien's Most Acclaimed Poems: The Touch, Undine...

A slick Renee Vivien Sapphic poetry quote:

"... judge my love, which knows no evil will, as honest, as essential, and as fatal still as any man's desire for his mistress..." | A Crown of Violets by Renée Vivien
Sapphic Poets: Baroness Gertrud von Puttkamer

Baroness Gertrud von Puttkamer

(1881 - 1944) - Prussian Jew Sapphic Poet

Aged nineteen, Baroness Gertrud von Puttkamer's first book of poetry Auf Kypros (On Cyprus) (1900), composed under the pen-name Marie Madeleine, was a collection of erotic sapphic verses which became.... more

Example Of Baroness Gertrud von Puttkamer's Most Acclaimed Poetry: Auf Kypros...

A slick Baroness Gertrud von Puttkamer Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Sex-hate! — an odd vibration of nerves, Remembrance from ancient times, When lust and cruelty were in tender embrace entwined...." | Hate by Baroness Gertrud von Puttkamer
Sapphic Poets: Sophia Parnok

Sophia Parnok

(1885 - 1933) - Russian Jew Sapphic Poet

Sophia Parnok was one of the first out lesbian poets in Russia. Because she chose to live openly and wrote about her relationships with several women, dedicating... more

Examples Of Sophia Parnok's Most Acclaimed Poems: The Touch, Undine...

A slick Sophia Parnok Sapphic poetry quote:

"... Farewell to you, my Gray-Haired Muse, The fire of my parting days, You were the music of all musics For my tormented, weary soul!..." | Тоскую, как тоскуют звери by Sophia Parnok
Sapphic Poets: Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela Mistral

(1889 - 1957) - Chilean Sapphic Poet

Gabriela Mistral, literary pseudonym of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, was a Chilean poet and diplomat. In 1945 she became the first Latin American author to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature, "for her lyric poetry which, ... more

Examples Of Gabriela Mistral's Most Acclaimed Collection of Poetry: Sonetos de la muerte (Love Poems In Memory Of The Dead), Desolación (Despair)

A slick Gabriela Mistral Sapphic poetry quote:

"I'm called Hope and you're called Rose: but losing our names we'll both go free, a dance on the hills, and nothing more, a dance on the hills is all we'll be." | Dame la Mano (Give Me Your Hand) by Gabriela Mistral
Sapphic Poets: Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay

(1892 - 1950) - American Sapphic Poet

Millay was one of the most skillful writers of sonnets in the twentieth century. In 1923 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, for The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver and she is... more

Examples Of Edna St. Vincent Millay's Most Acclaimed Poems: Renascence, A Few Figs From Thistles...

A slick Edna St. Vincent Millay Sapphic poetry quote:

"... She is neither pink nor pale, And she never will be all mine; She learned her hands in a fairy-tale, And her mouth on a valentine..." | Witch-Wife by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Sapphic Poets: Elsa Gidlow

Elsa Gidlow

(1898 - 1986) - British-Canadian Sapphic Poet

Elsa Gidlow published the first openly lesbian poetry in North America, titled On A Grey Thread (1923) and Elsa, I Come with My Songs (1986) is the first lesbian... more

Example Of Elsa Gidlow's Most Acclaimed Poems: On a Grey Thread (1923) - the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry published in North America.

A slick Elsa Gidlow Sapphic poetry quote:

"... I have brought her, laughing, to my quietly dreaming garden. For what will be done there, I ask no man pardon..." | For the Goddess Too Well Known by Elsa Gidlow
Sapphic Poets: Valentine Ackland

Valentine Ackland

(1906 - 1969) - English Sapphic Poet

As well as being an out lezza, Valentine Ackland was a... communist! As a result her poetry did not become widely published nor noticed until after her death. Valentine was actually, ... more

Example Of Valentine Ackland's Most Acclaimed volume of poetry: Whether a Dove or a Seagull

A slick Valentine Ackland Sapphic poetry quote:

"...The eyes of body, being blindfold by night, / Refer to the eyes of mind - at brain's command, / Study imagination's map, then order out a hand, / To journey forth as deputy for sight...." | The Eyes of the Body by Valentine Ackland
Sapphic Poets: Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

(1911 - 1979) - American Sapphic Poet

Larry Rohter in the New York Times, referred to Elizabeth Bishop as "one of the most important American poets" of the 20th century. Elizabeth Bishop was an award-wining... more

Examples Of Elizabeth Bishop's Poems: The Map, The Imaginary Iceberg...

A slick Elizabeth Bishop poetry quote:

"... We can sit down and weep; we can go shopping, or play at a game of constantly being wrong with a priceless set of vocabularies ..." | Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore by Elizabeth Bishop
Sapphic Poets: Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

(1929 - 2012) - American Sapphic Poet

Adrienne Rich first collection of poetry, A Change of World (1951), was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Rich went on to receive a... more

Examples Of Adrienne Rich's Most Acclaimed Poems: Aunt Jennifer's Tigers, Planetarium...

A slick Adrienne Rich Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Whatever happens with us, your body will haunt mine—tender, delicate..." | Floating Poem, Unnumbered by Adrienne Rich
Sapphic Poets: Helvi Juvonen

Helvi Juvonen

(1929 - 2012) Finnish Sapphic Poet

Helvi Juvonen was a Finnish poet who received the Eino Leino Prize in 1957. Her literary career spanned only ten years as she died at the age of 39. Between 1949 and 1955, Helvi published five collections of poetry:... more

Examples Of Helvi Juvonen's Most Acclaimed Poems: Cup lichen (1952), Elämä (Life)...

A slick Helvi Juvonen poetry quote:

"The lichen raised its fragile cup, and rain filled it, and in the drop, the sky glittered, holding back the wind..." | Cup lichen by Helvi Juvonen
Sapphic Poets: Mirkka Rekola

Mirkka Rekola

(1931 – 2014) - Finnish Sapphic Poet

Mirkka Rekola wrote poems, aphorisms (a pithy observation which contains a general truth) and essays and, is now considered as a notable Finnish modernist poet... more

Example Of Mirkka Rekola's collection of poems: Kohtaamispaikka vuosi (Meetingplace the year)(1977)...

A slick Mirkka Rekola Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Early morning and your skin's glowing with far-off days, lands on the otherside of dream, from your face a springtime haze rises to my eyes to my lips rise...." | The path of the false moon by Mirkka Rekola
Sapphic Poets: Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde

(1934 - 1992) - African American Sapphic Poet

Legendary poet, author and civil rights activist Audre Lorde used her writing to shine light on her experience of being a Black lesbian woman and later, as a mother and as a woman suffering from breast cancer... more

Examples Of Audre Lorde's Most Acclaimed Poems: Coal, Who Said It Was Simple...

A slick Audre Lorde Sapphic poetry quote:

"...honey flowed from the split cup..." | Love Poem by Audre Lorde
Sapphic Poets: Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

(1935 - 2019) - American Sapphic Poet

Mary Oliver's poetry won numerous awards, including a/an: Pulitzer Prize (1984), National Book Award (1992), American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Prize,... more

Examples Of Mary Oliver's Most Acclaimed Poems: Wild Geese, The Journey...

A slick Mary Oliver Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things..." | The Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
Sapphic Poets: Paula Gunn Allen

Paula Gunn Allen

(1939 - 2008) - Indigenous American Sapphic Poet

Paula Gunn Allen was a Native American poet, novelist, professor and activist. Of mixed Laguna Pueblo (a federally recognised tribe of Native American Pueblo people in west-central New Mexico), Sioux, Scottish, and... more

Examples Of Paula Gunn Allen's Most Acclaimed Poems: Life Is a Fatal Disease: Collected Poems 1962-1995

A slick Paula Gunn Allen Sapphic poetry quote:

"dykes remind me of indians like indians dykes are supposed to die out or forget or drink all the time or shatter go away to nowhere to remember what will happen if they dont..." | Some Like Indians Endure by Paula Gunn Allen
Sapphic Poets: Suniti Namjoshi

Suniti Namjoshi

(1941 ) - Indian Sapphic poet

Suniti Namjoshi is an Indian poet and a fabulist whose work often challenges prejudices such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. Suniti grew up in India, taught... more

Example Of Suniti Namjoshi's Most Acclaimed Poems: Snow White And Rose Green...

A slick Suniti Namjoshi Sapphic poetry quote:

"As the first blade bends, Grass Blade murmurs, 'I bend, but do not break..." | Grass Blade by Suniti Namjoshi
Sapphic Poets: Pat Parker

Pat Parker

(1944 - 1989) - African-American Sapphic Poet

Pat Parker's poetry and her activism drew from her experiences as an African-American lesbian feminist. She was the author of five collections of poetry:... more

Example Of Pat Parker's Most Acclaimed Poems: Woman Slaughter...

A slick Pat Parker Sapphic poetry quote:

"...never feel my father turn in his grave, never hear my mother cry, Lord, what kind of child is this?" | My Lover Is a Woman by Pat Parker
Sapphic Poets: Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan

(1945) - American Sapphic poet

From 2008 to 2010 Kay Ryan was the United States Poet Laureate, serves as the official poet of the United States and she has served as a Chancellor of The Academy of... more

Example Of Kay Ryan's Most Acclaimed Collection of Poems: The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010) for which she received a Pulitzer Prize

A slick Kay Ryan Sapphic poetry quote:

"The one sincere, crocodile has, gone dry eyed, for years. Why, bother crying, crocodile tears." | Crocodile Tears by Kay Ryan
Sapphic Poets: Patrizia Cavalli

Patrizia Cavalli

(1947 – 2022) - Italian Sapphic poet

Patrizia Cavalli was an esteemed Italian poet who was awarded: the 1999 Viareggio Prize for poetry for her work Sempre aperto teatro, the 2006 Premio Dessì for Pigre divinità e pigra sorte and the 2019... more

Examples Of Patrizia Cavalli's Most Acclaimed Collection of Poems: Sempre aperto teatro (1999), Con passi giapponesi (2019)

A slick Patrizia Cavalli Sapphic poetry quote:

"Amore non mio e neanche tuo, ma chiuso prato dove siamo entrate, da dove poco dopo sei riuscita, e dove io infingarda ho fatto casa." | Amore non mio e neanche tuo by Patrizia Cavalli (see above translation)
Sapphic Poets: Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy

(1955) - Scottish Sapphic Poet

From 2009 to 2019, Carol Ann Duffy was the first known LGBT poet to hold the position of Poet Laureate (an honorary position which used to be appointed by... more

Examples Of Carol Ann Duffy's Most Acclaimed Poems: Prayer, The Love Poem...

A slick Carol Ann Duffy Sapphic poetry quote:

"...Till love exhausts itself, longs for the sleep of words - my mistress' eyes - to lie on a white sheet, at rest...." | The Love Poem by Carol Ann Duffy