“Calypso” by Suzanne Vega
In “Calypso” by Suzanne Vega, the poem is the story of what has happened with Calypso and Odysseus. This rhyming, repetitive piece of work is an epic simile about a woman named Calypso’s life. In The Odyssey, Odysseus ends up on the island of Ogygia, where the nymph Calypso lives, after fighting the sea and washing up onto the land. Calypso has lived alone on this island lonely, and waiting for someone to appear in her life. This matches what Calypso says, “A man I saved!/ Zeus pinned his ship and with his flash of lightning/ smashed it to pieces. All his friends were killed out on the wine dark sea. This man alone, /clutching the keel, was swept by wind and wave, and came here, to my home”(V, ll 130-135).
She helped him for 7 years and then Hermes, the messenger, was sent by the gods to tell her it was finally time that he needed to be released; time he needed to be let go. In the poem, repetition is used to empathize that she has “let him go”. She wasn’t trying to harm him, but she feels emotional she had to release the one person that had come to her secluded island to keep her company. . This is her view and her story.
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In Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, which was translated by Emily Wilson, it sheds an evil light on Calypso. It only shows her side of the story when she responded to Hermes in a negative way being upset. It shed light that she was just holding him captive, and even at the beginning of the book, it sheds light on this aspect by first introducing where Odysseus was by, “Calypso, a great goddess,/had trapped him in her cave; she wanted him/ to be her husband”(I, ll 14- 15) In reality, Odysseus meant so much more than just something in bed or a handsome man that could make a husband. It was finally someone who made her feel worthy and accompanied.
Living on an island all alone isn’t easy, but no one really thinks of her being a hero. What if she had decided to just let him wash up and not care for him? Where would his life have taken him? These questions are the unknown, but what isn’t the unknown is that Odysseus enjoyed his time at this island, but started to want to leave. Another repetitive phased used is “her name is Calypso”.
The repetition of her name signifies that she feels that no one respects her name or who she is. She has to remind people of who she is, and that her name is the only name she will ever get. With that name comes a reputation that precedes her, and thoughts about who she is. Just like in the Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, John Proctor’s name is still his name and he won’t anything ruin that even if it means defying odds and standards.
The song continues to dive into an epic simile for who she is and her emotions. Her garden symbolizes her personality and her emotions. Her sweetness is being hidden by her negative reputation. All she is has is her beautiful hair and singing voice which is mentioned in Homer’s The Odyssey, “There sat Calypso with her braided curls./Beside the hearth is mighty fire was burning./ The scent of citrus and of brittle pine/ suffused the island. Inside, she was singing/ and weaving with a shuttle made of gold./Her voice was beautiful”(V, ll 57- 62). In the end of the song, Calypso sends a reminder that she is feeling heartbreak just like a normal person might. She is no different, besides the fact that she is from a Greek epic. This song is her side of the story of Odysseus being trapped on her island. Everyone has a story, and everyone deserves to be able to share that story.