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 is important—whether the syllables are long or short. In other languages, this is no longer significant.
Sapphic stanza was adopted by Roman poets like Horace. His popularity helped in expanding the use of the stanza and became common in many works of literature. The Sapphic stanza was extremely popular in Polish poetry from the 16th century. In English however, is not used often. Among poets who experimented with it was Algernon Charles Swinburne.
- 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.
- (Algernon Charles Swinburne, Sapphics)