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Sapphic Verse

Made famous by the greek poetess Sappho of Lesbos, c 600 BC - the Sapphic stanza is a metric poetic form spanning 4 lines.

The form has 3 hendecasyllabic lines - Each consisting of the following metric feet: trochee, trochee, dactyl, trochee, trochee

The fourth, concluding line has a Dactyl followed by a Trochee - this last line is known as the Adonic or Adonean line.

A brief note on the metric feet used in Sapphic Verse -

A Trochee is a two syllable foot, which follows a 'DAH-dah' rhythm
e.g 'TRO-chee'
A Dactyl is a three syllable foot, which follows a 'DAH-dah-dah' rhythm
e.g 'DAC-tyll-ic'

An example:

'Sapphics' by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Saw the white implacable Aphrodite,
Saw the hair unbound and the feet unsandalled
Shine as fire of sunset on western waters;
Saw the reluctant. . .

to show the metric pattern -

SAW the / WHITE im- / PLACable / APHro- / DIte
SAW the / HAIR un- / BOUND and the / FEET un- / SANDalled
SHINE as / FIRE of / SUNset on / WESTern / WAters
SAW the re- / LUCtant...
A write-up explaining the poetic structure of sapphic verse, by darkcrescendo

Thank you!
Add a Comment:
PrincessNAVI Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2004
I'm a bit... er... slow on the topic of stressed and unstressed syllables. I'm just not very good at hearing/stressing the right things. (Makes Spanish a fun language to learn...) Anyway, what I'm getting at, it's easy to find the stressed points of longer words just by looking them up in the dictionary. What of one- syllable words? I previously thought that they were all stressed, since there isn't another syllable for the stress to be on. Is it simply that unimportant one-syllable words remain unstressed? Is it certain types of one-syllable words such as conjunctions, prepositions, and I don't know what else, that remain unstressed? I realize this is probably not the appropriate place for this question, but I've tried to find the answer on my own and come up with nothing. And I don't think it seems TOO out of place. I want to experiment in forms such as this, but I just don't understand.
OmahaSem Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2004
A trick I learned in grade school:

Hold your hand just beneath your jaw an overenunciate everything that you're saying. When your jaw hits your hand, it's a stressed syllable.
PrincessNAVI Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2004
Wow, that really really helped. Thanks!
beryc Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2004
omg !! this form is so confusing to me.. ... eiy
darkcrescendo Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2004  Hobbyist Writer
[link] - My own attempt at the form.

One day, I shall try it using the classical long-short syllable structure, rather than the modern metric forms.

hezekiah Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2004
One of my favorite forms :).
sharkoftheday Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2004  Hobbyist Writer
I've read this elsewhere (Encyclopedia Britannica). What they said was that it cannot actually be measured with accented and unaccented syllables since the concept of accents was based on the Classical forms. Instead they analyzed it as long and short syllables: long, short, long, long, long, short, short, long, short, long, short; and (for the final line) long, short, short, long, long. That's my two cents worth.
darkcrescendo Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2004  Hobbyist Writer
One cannot always be a complete purist, alas. At least, not feasibly.
I use the anglicised metres for the anglicised form - to simplify things for those new to poetry.
I would expect people to use this as a starting point for theirr own research.

Also, I do not speak or write classic greek :)

sharkoftheday Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2004  Hobbyist Writer
True; but the second trochee should be a spondee then.

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 . . .

The first part of the poem. It seems to use the fourth syllable loosely now that i read it as such.
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