Perhaps there’s a good reason that their aren’t a lot of English poets writing Sapphic poetry…

If you ever think it a good idea,
you should think most carefully. English language
sapphics will present you a rather daunting
metrical challenge.

~~

Sapphic poems are named after the Greek poet Sappho.  (c. 630-570 BC).  Her poems utilized a meter that worked quite nicely in Greek (based on long and short consonants in Greek), but not so well in English.  As English does not utilize long and short consonants, English sapphic poetry is based on stressed and unstressed consonants.  The technical details of a sapphic poem are as follows:

A sapphic poem is any number of 4 line stanzas.  Lines 1-3 each have two trochees, a dactyl, and two more trochees (a trochee is a metrical foot of one stressed, and one unstressed syllable.  A dactyl is one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed).  In other words, each of the first three lines have a XxXxXxxXxXx form (where X is a strong beat, and x is unstressed).  The 4th line is a dactyl and a trochee, so XxxXx.  If you try speaking in this pattern, you’ll notice quite quickly that most English phrases do not conform to this pattern

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Perhaps there’s a good reason that their aren’t a lot of English poets writing Sapphic poetry…

  1. ha. i dont conform to many patterns in general poetry…seriously, i dont know why i have such a hard time with stressed and unstressed…i keep my rhythm wild and free….smiles.

Please Comment! Otherwise I won't know that you've been reading!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s