Sapphic Stanza

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Sapphic Stanza

 

one of the most widely used strophes of classical prosody. The sapphic stanza appears in the works of the Greek poet Sappho. It was established as a form in Latin poetry by Horace. A sapphic stanza consists of three 11-syllable sapphic verses (—U—Ū—U U—U—Ū), followed by a five-syllable adonic verse (—U U—Ū). The following stanza by N. A. Radishchev is an example of a tonic rendering of a sapphic stanza:

Ty klialásia vérnoiu byt’ vovéki,
Mne bogíniu nóshchi dalá porúkoi;
Séver khládnyi dúnul odín raz krépche—
Schást’e ischézlo.

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And yet, to give the argument one more twist, it may be that Tennyson's exploration of the Sapphic strain represents the most devastating attempt to subsume the female voice in English literary history.
Landon made her name writing verses about slighted and unrequited love, wearing her hair a la Sappho, as young Disraeli described it, and making the heroine of her widely-popular The Improvisatrice (1824) a modern Sapphic artist.
42) Tennyson develops this feminine perspective, introduced by Hemans and Landon, when he creates such Sapphic figures as Eleanore, Fatima, and the two Marianas who, obsessed by heterosexual passion, live in isolation and seem oblivious to--indeed, seem to exist without--families or friends.
One might argue, then, that Tennyson, by developing his Sapphic affinities, took over the strain that Robinson and her female successors, Hemans and Landon, meant to claim.