Sapphic stanza

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Sapphic stanza is a strophe that is widely used in European poetry. It is of Greek origin. It is named after the ancient Greek woman poet Sappho.

The stanza consists of four lines. Three of them are composed of eleven syllables and the last one is made up of five syllables. In Greek verse the quantity of syllables was important. That is, whether the syllables are long or short. In other languages it is no longer significant.

Sapphic stanza was adopted by Roman poets, for example by Horace.[1] His popularity helped in expanding the use of the stanza. It became common in many literatures. The Sapphic stanza was extremely popular in Polish poetry from the 16th century.[2] In English however, is not used often. Among poets who experimented with it was Algernon Charles Swinburne.[3]

All the night sleep came not upon my eyelids,
Shed not dew, nor shook nor unclosed a feather,
Yet with lips shut close and with eyes of iron
Stood and beheld me.[4]
(Algernon Charles Swinburne, Sapphics)

References[change | change source]

  1. "Q. Horatius Flaccus (Horace), Carmina" (in Latin). Perseus Project. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  2. Wiktor Jarosław Darasz, Mały przewodnik po wierszu polskim, Kraków 2003, p. 143.
  3. "Prosody". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  4. "Sapphics". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 23 October 2016.