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Sunday Scribblings #137: How to Sing Stresses Away With Sappho

So March is Greek American Heritage Month and of course, Women’s History Month as well. It also happens to be Spiritual Wellness Month and Sing With Your Child Month So in the spirit of all these, my Poetic Sundays section is about how to destress with Sappho. And if you are wondering what the connection is, read on…

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Notepad and a pen over it with a cup of coffee next to it. words read Sunday Scribblings, and this is for Sunday Scribblings #137: How to Sing Stresses Away With Sappho

Poetic Sundays: How to Sing Stresses Away With Sappho

So let us talk about that connection first, the one I referred to at the start of the post. Today’s poetic form is called the Sapphic stanza. It originated in ancient Greece and was named after the poetess Sappho. This form consists of four lines with a particular pattern of syllables and stresses that create a musical and rhythmic effect. Thus, this lends itself to be sung in accompaniment to music. And singing definitely helps reduce stress!

Choosing this form named after Sappho, who was also called ‘The Poetess’ and referred to as the ‘Tenth Muse’, connects to the Greek aspect of the Heritage Month, and to Women’s History Month too. Plus, its musicality and its stress on stresses connects it to the other two monthly observations mentioned earlier.

So What is the Sapphic Stanza?

The Sapphic stanza is a quatrain, where the first three lines are known as “Sapphic lines” containing eleven syllables each while the fourth line is called an “Adonic line” and contains five syllables. It is often used to express intense emotions, particularly those related to love, desire, and longing.

The main building blocks of the sapphic are trochees and dactyls. The trochee is a metrical foot with one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one(Ls), while the dactyl contains a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones(Lss). Each of the first three lines contain two trochees, a dactyl, and then two more trochees. The shorter fourth line is composed of one dactyl followed by a trochee.

Note that this form does not have any rules for rhyme but the poet can rhyme if they so choose to. There are a few variations for this form, but I picked one which I saw more often across different sources online and offline.

A Sapphic Stanza’s Characteristics

So a Sapphic stanza’s elements are that at its most basic, it is:

  • stanzaic: contains one or more quatrains
  • syllabic: follows a syllabic scheme of 11/11/11/5
  • metrical: pattern of first three lines is Ls-Ls-Lss-Ls-Ls, while the fourth line’s pattern is Lss-Ls (L – referring to Long/stressed syllables, and s to Short/unstressed ones)
  • usually themed: used to express intense emotions
  • rhyming optional: most common scheme is abab though rhyme is optional and up to the poet

h/t, reference, and further reading

My Sapphic Stanza Attempt to Sing Stresses Away

First, this attempt is not fully a true Sapphic stanza from what I know of stresses, but it is the closest I could attempt. But let us take a look, shall we?

  • Four lines – check
  • Syllabic count of 11/11/11/5 – check
  • Trochees and dactyls – check, almost (a couple of places where it is not following the meter, but mostly tried to)
  • Intense emotions – check, kind of (the writing of this poem itself brought various emotions – considering the thought I had to put into stresses!) Plus, the love for writing is kind of what I am writing about here, and focusing on writing this did make me forget other issues, kind of a meditation by itself, a spiritual practice in a way.

To Write Like Sappho
Not to worry; difficult, clever, tricky
though a Sapphic may be, regardless, you see –
poets challenge selves, and deterrents beat it,
well, they go extinct.
~ Vidya @ LadyInReadWrites


On My Blog

My recent posts since and including my last Sunday Scribblings:

& at Home

Has been cold and sunny and cold all over again. Notice I said sunny, not warm! We are expecting more snow in the Bay Area (and considering I have not seen snow in the mountains surrounding our home since we moved here (25 years now), it is something!


On My Blog & Homefront

Hoping a few posts at least and hoping for warmer spring-like weather soon!

This Week’s Celebrations

Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)

  • Literary birthdays this week of March include: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Gabriel García Márquez on March 6th; Andrea Levy and William Boyd on the 7th; Sahir Ludhianvi, John Angus McPhee, Kenneth Grahame, and Kenneth Douglas Stewart Anderson on the 8th; Shashi Tharoor, Rochelle Potkar, and Elizabeth Sewell on the 9th; Johanna Lindsey on the 10th; Douglas Adams on the 11th; Carl Hiaasen, Dave Eggers, Edward Albee, Jack Kerouac, and Virginia Hamilton on the 12th
  • March 8th is National Proofreading Day
  • The 12th is World Day Against Cyber Censorship
  • Newspapers in Education Week, Read an E-Book Week, and Words Matter Week – the first full week in March 
  • It is also Return the Borrowed Books Week, so head to the library with books you have borrowed from there and forgotten about. I actually have a couple I borrowed for the Cybils readathon and completely forgot about after I read them. Thankfully, they were auto-renewed (thanks, library!)
  • World Math Day is observed on March 8th annually (this started in 2007)

Foodie Celebrations

Other Celebrations

Multi-day events

  • This week of International Women’s Day (March 8th) celebrates Women of Aviation Worldwide WeekNo More Week and International Women’s Week 
  • And it is Celebrate Your Name Week with quirky name-based observations for each day of the week, including Namesake Day, Name Tag Day, Unique Names Day, Name Fun Facts Day, Learn What Your Name Means Day, Genealogy Day, and Middle Name Pride Day
  • It is also Girl Scout Week (Week of March 12, which is Girl Scout Day)

Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings

So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. And do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month? Also, what are some of the wonderful things that happened recently to you or that you heard of?

Linking this to the Sunday Post over at the Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Salon

Image of a marble sculpture of Sappho (per Unsplash information) and pin title is Poetic Sundays: How to Sing Stresses Away With Sappho

5 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings #137: How to Sing Stresses Away With Sappho

  1. You have attempted many poetic forms and each time you have tried, you have succeeded. And you have shared these many, many forms with others, which is also lovely.

    I hope at some point you will swing back around and again focus on some of your favorites and/or some of the frequently seen forms.

    Have a great week! I hope to celebrate Chocolate Chip Cookie Week.

    1. Thanks so much Deb!! Your comments on these Sunday posts encourage me so much, and I do have a few favorites that I want to get back to again to write more in those forms and explore them in-depth. And yes, I am going to let my daughter know it is chocolate chip cookie week (drop hints so she will bake them!)

  2. I really like your poem – To Write Like Sappho. Nice that you educate us and share your own efforts.
    I also like your Celebration lists. I have tried to search that in the past but just run out of steam. So thank you for sharing.
    Have a good week, enjoy the beauty of the snow but stay warm. Happy Reading!

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