One of the great Greek lyrists and few known female poets of the ancient world, Sappho.
Sappho was called a lyrist because she wrote her poems to be performed with the accompaniment of a lyre, she even composed her own music and refined the prevailing lyric meter to a point that it is now known as sapphic meter. She innovated lyric poetry both in technique and style, becoming part of a new wave of Greek lyrists who moved from writing poetry from the point of view of gods and muses to the personal vantage point of the individual. She was one of the first poets to write from the first person, describing love and loss as it affected her personally.
Her style was sensual and melodic; primarily songs of love, yearning, and reflection. Most commonly the target of her affections was female, often one of the many women sent to her for education in the arts.
In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, bisexual and lesbian women would give violets to the woman they were wooing, symbolizing their “Sapphic” desire. People believe that it was because Sappho described herself and a lover in a poem, wearing garlands of violets.
In the last century, Sappho has become so synonymous with woman-love that two of the most popular words to describe female homosexuality, lesbian and Sapphic, have derived from her, the word lesbian developing from the Isle of Lesbos which Sappho lived on.