Type: Line, Appendages
Description: An Adonic is a two foot line: Xxx XX or maybe Xxx Xx. It depends on the expert one consults. It is more often found as a tagline on the end of a stanza than as separate stanzas.
Origin: Greek
Schematic:  Xxx XX or Xxx Xx
Line/Poem Length: 5

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This is Greek and classical, why not begin at the beginning.  An Adonic poem is one without rhyme, with just five syllables per line and a specific meter, or syllable arrangement.  We’re at the beginning so lets talk about that first.

When you say the word trouser you say it in a certain way, TROUSer.  There are two syllables and the first one is pronounced more clearly and for longer than the second syllable.  The first syllable is stressed and the second unstressed.  Put in different terms the word present can be done either way.  I have bought you a PREsent, would see the first syllable stressed and the second left unstressed.  I would like you to preSENT this to the group, puts the stress on the second syllable.  The meter of a poem, even more than the rhyme can carry it and give it a song-like rhythm so it is important to learn the specific ones for each form.

Back to ancient Greece.  This poem has a meter like this: stress-unstress-unstress-stress-stress, but the final one can also be unstressed.  We can express it from now on like this /uu//, where / is a stress and u is unstressed.  For instance the wordmicrowave would fit into the beginning of the line, and coffee to the end.  Microwave-coffee (this is what you’ll have to do if you forgot your coffee whilst writing poems).  Not a great poem yet but play around with the syllables until you’ve got it.  At least there’s no rhyme to confuse issues.  Read about meter and feet here, but really we’ll build on it as we go.  There’s another good website here.  The feet, or collections of meter and stresses represented here are called a Dactyl and Trochee.

Wiki tells me this poem originates from laments for Adonis, so write your own lament for your departed Adonis.  Although mine is about my baby niece who is at the moment over-enthusiastic about everyone’s

Christmas candy.
Chewing sweets today
Your few teeth work hard
you swallow too soon
gasping for your breath
So I try to help
Patting on your back
Until you giggle
and rummage for more.

You can see, this kind of meter restraint doesn’t do a lot for me, but short lines and no rhyme certainly makes for easy writing, and if you end up with a nice short-line poem you can tweak the meter afterwards.


Greek Verse, the beginnings.

Dithyramb is a genre of “frenzied” lyric in praise of wine and revelry. It is named for the god of revelry Dionysus. The dithyramb was originally composed to be sung by a chorus. The frame is at the discretion of the poet although the theme should be fitting with the history of the genre. Alternating verse and chorus are often used and it is common to find the genre written in Anacreontic Couplets.

Alexander’s Feast by John Dryden (1639–1701) Chorus III
Bacchus’ blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier’s pleasure:
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet is pleasure after pain.

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Liberty Port (Dithyramb)

When navy ships pull into port
All the bars receive support
For sailors drink and then cavort –
If lucky, a female escort.

Despite orders to comport
themselves as a descent sort
a fond delight in drinking
suppresses normal thinking
and many end up on report.

So heft that mug
and take a toke
we’ll chug-a-lug
until we’re broke.

© Lawrencealot – December 3, 2014


Type: Line, Metrical Requirement
Description: One of those complex Greek rhythmic patterns. It is a line consisting of two trochees, an iamb, a trochee, an iamb, a trochee, and two iambs.
Origin: Greek
Schematic: Xx Xx xX Xx xX Xx xX xX
Rhythm/Stanza Length: 2
Line/Poem Length: 16
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Choriambics by Algernon Charles Swinburne
              1  Love, what ailed thee to leave life that was made lovely, we thought, with love?
              2  What sweet visions of sleep lured thee away, down from the light above?
              3  What strange faces of dreams, voices that called, hands that were raised to wave,
              4   Lured or led thee, alas, out of the sun, down to the sunless grave?
              5  Ah, thy luminous eyes! once was their light fed with the fire of day;
              6  Now their shadowy lids cover them close, hush them and hide away.
              7  Ah, thy snow-coloured hands! once were they chains, mighty to bind me fast;
              8  Now no blood in them burns, mindless of love, senseless of passion past.
              9  Ah, thy beautiful hair! so was it once braided for me, for me;
            10 Now for death is it crowned, only for death, lover and lord of thee.
            11 Sweet, the kisses of death set on thy lips, colder are they than mine;
            12 Colder surely than past kisses that love poured for thy lips as wine.
            13 Lov’st thou death? is his face fairer than love’s, brighter to look upon?
            14 Seest thou light in his eyes, light by which love’s pales and is overshone?
            15 Lo the roses of death, grey as the dust, chiller of leaf than snow!
            16 Why let fall from thy hand love’s that were thine, roses that loved thee so?
            17 Large red lilies of love, sceptral and tall, lovely for eyes to see;
            18 Thornless blossom of love, full of the sun, fruits that were reared for thee.
            19 Now death’s poppies alone circle thy hair, girdle thy breasts as white;
            20 Bloodless blossoms of death, leaves that have sprung never against the light.
            21 Nay then, sleep if thou wilt; love is content; what should he do to weep?
            22 Sweet was love to thee once; now in thine eyes sweeter than love is sleep.
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Note: All of the examples I found were couplet rhyme, with stanzas greater than 16 lines. (Robert Brooke, Algernon Charles Swinburne)


My example  

Searching simply because questions demand answers has driven me
first, to question the “facts” dogma asserts, second to really see
serendipity take charge when we let nature control the dance.
Recognize that what’s here is and it’s prime! whether or not by chance.

(c) Lawrencealot – November 21, 2014


Antiphon, Latin, antiphona derived from Greek antiphonon, sounding against, responsive sound, singing opposite, alternate chant; is a response from a congregation or chorus sung or recited before and after a Psalm verse read or sung by a cantor. The phrase which serves as the antiphon text contains not only the fundamental message of the psalm to which it is sung, but also brings attention to the point of view from which it is to be understood. It is central to the liturgical and mystical meaning of the psalm with regard to the occasion or feast day on which it is sung. As a poetic genre it is a poem with a responsive refrain.

The Antiphon is:
• stanzaic, alternating short-long-short stanzas. The response-refrain is in short stanzas, no longer than a couplet. The alternating verse stanza may be structured at the discretion of the poet, most often in quatrains.
• originally to be sung, therefore although no specific meter is designated, it should carry a lyrical rhythm.
• rhymed or unrhymed at the discretion of the poet.
• composed with the responsive refrain containing the central theme from a particular point of view.

Antiphon by George Herbert 1633

Cho. Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
—————– My God and King.

Vers. The heav’ns are not too high,
—— His praise may thither flie:
—— The earth is not too low,
—— His praises there may grow.

Cho. Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
—————– My God and King.

Vers. The church with psalms must shout,
—— No doore can keep them out:
—– But above all, the heart
—— Must bear the longest part.

Cho. Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
—————— My God and King.

How great is He? by Judi Van Gorder

Pure are the colors of tulips in bloom,
true yellows and reds, set against green,
all shades and grades, brilliant at noon.

How great is He, sire of all that’s seen?

The sun dries the rain soaked earth
while warblers fuss and preen
and His garden sprouts new birth.

How great is He, sire of all that’s seen?

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My example


Who Named This Form (Antiphon)

Every day I find a form
that ancient poets wrote.
In trying hard to conform
It seems I often fail, you’ll note.

If it seems like Greek to you, alas it well may be.

“Who named these forms”, someone asked,
Teachers or some Polish nerd?
Don’t take all those folks to task.
It might be Latin that you heard.

If it seems like Greek to you, alas it well may be.

© Lawrencealot – November 10, 2014


Bestiary is verse or prose in which characteristics are assigned to real or imaginary animals to teach moral or religious beliefs. It is always allegoricaland often mystical. It is the descendant of the Physiologus and a stylized variation of the Bestiary is the Alphabestiary.

The stories usually come from fables in ancient mythology. Aesop’s Fables are a prime example. Here is just one:

The Fox and the Goat
By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he could not get out. A Goat passed shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what he was doing down there. “Oh, have you not heard?” said the Fox; “there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order to be sure to have water by me. Why don’t you come down too?”
The Goat thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the Fox immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well. “Good-bye, friend,” said the Fox.
Remember next time… Never trust the advise of a man in difficulty.
And I just can’t resist including this:
How the Camel Got His Hump by Rudyard Kipling

The Camel’s hump is an ugly lump
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do.
Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven’t enough to do-oo-oo,
We get the hump–
Cameelious hump–
The hump that is black and blue!
We climb out of bed with a frouzly head,
And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl
At our bath and our boots and our toys;
And there ought to be a corner for me
(And I know’ there is one for you)
When we get the hump–
Cameelious hump–
The hump that is black and blue!
The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire;
And then you will find that the sun and the wind,
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump–
The horrible hump–
The hump that is black and blue!
I get it as well as you-oo-oo–
If I haven’t enough to do-oo-oo!
We all get hump–
Cameelious hump–
Kiddies and grown-ups too!
• The Physiologus is said to be the predecessor of the Bestiary although I am hard pressed to find much distinction between the two. The Physiologus dates back to the 2nd century AD Greece and is attributed to an unknown author. It is a didactic allegory for the resurrection and incarnation of Christ.

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I see no need to create one of my own, being no set form to illustrate.

Choral Ode, Pindaric Ode or Dorian Ode

The Choral Ode, Pindaric Ode or Dorian Ode distinguishes itself from other odes because of its three part order. It is also strophic, not stanzaic like the Horatian, Keatsian and Ronsardian Odes. The strophe may differ in structure within the poem, while the stanza is uniform in structure within the poem. This verse form introduced by Pindar 522-433 BC Greece was originally written to be performed by chorus and dance and was therefore emotional, intense, brilliant and changeable to entertain an audience. Of course it like all Odes, exalts or praises its subject.

The names Choral and Pindaric Odes are obvious from the “choral” design of the frame and the name of the originator. The Dorians were one of the three tribes of ancient Greece who had their own dialect and culture. I couldn’t find Pindaric named as a Dorian poet but he did live in the same era so I am making an assumption there must be some association between the Dorians and Pindaric.

The verse is structured in a triad or three parts, which can be repeated within the poem. The parts are the strophe, the antistrophe, and epode. The individual parts are also referred to as the Turne, Counterturne and Stand. Originally created for a chorus from one side of the stage to sing or recite the strophe. The response or antistrophe is sung or chanted from the chorus on the other side of the stage. The triad is concluded by both choruses singing the epode. The strophe and antistrophe are written in exactly the same structure or frame, at the discretion of the poet. The epode must change in structure. This variation is meant to bring more drama to the ode.
To the immortall memorie, and friendship of that noble paire,
Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison by Ben Jonson

The Turne
BRAVE Infant of Saguntum, cleare
Thy coming forth in that great yeare,
When the Prodigious Hannibal did crowne
His rage, with razing your immortall Towne.
Thou, looking then about,
Ere thou wert halfe got out,
Wise child, did’st hastily returne,
And mad’st thy Mothers wombe thine urne.
How summ’d a circle didst thou leave man-kind
Of deepest lore, could we the Centre find !
The Counter-turne
Did wiser Nature draw thee back,
From out the horrour of that sack,
Where shame, faith, honour, and regard of right
Lay trampled on ; the deeds of death, and night,
Urg’d, hurried forth, and hurld
Upon th’ affrighted world :
Sword, fire, and famine, with fell fury met ;
And all on utmost ruine set ;
As, could they but lifes miseries fore-see,
No doubt all Infants would returne like thee.
The Stand
For, what is life, if measur’d by the space,
Not by the act ?
Or masked man, if valu’d by his face,
Above his fact ?
Here’s one out-liv’d his Peeres,
And told forth fourescore yeares ;
He vexed time, and busied the whole State ;
Troubled both foes, and friends ;
But ever to no ends :
What did this Stirrer, but die late ?
How well at twentie had he falne, or stood !
For three of his four-score he did no good.

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Other Odes: Aeolic OdeAnacreontic Ode, Choral Ode or Pindaric Ode or Dorian Ode,
Cowleyan Ode or Irregular Ode, Horatian OdeKeatsian or English OdeRonsardian Ode

Thematic Odes:
Elegy, Obsequy, Threnody Ode
Elemental Ode
Genethliacum Ode
Encomium or Coronation Ode
Epithalamion or Epithalamium and Protholathiumis
Palinode Ode
Panegyric or Paean
Triumphal Ode
Occasional Verse

My example poem

Ode to Controlled Free Enterprise (Choral Ode)

Three cheers for private enterprise
where innovation’s raised our lot.
(Of course there’ve been a few bad guys)
whose selfish greed has fouled the pot.
In home garages ‘cross this land
both men and women made their mark
inventing things we now demand,
our lives made better by their spark.

Three cheers for Government control
to stop the business man that cheats,
with fleecing folks his only goal,
who pushes poisons on the streets.
Angels would never need such laws
but since we’re men there’s such a need
(to govern men who exploit flaws
of other men and thrive on greed.)

Though I’m learning I’m discerning
and it somehow seems to me
that to stifle business profits
will make everyone less free.
If the government restrictions
Place a levy that’s too high
then the companies will either
move away or simply die.
The electorate is charged with
the selection of a voice
whose agenda is not set but
who can think and make a choice.

© Lawrencealot – August 13, 2014

Sapphic Stanza

The Sapphic Stanza is classic Aeolic verse and attributed to the poetess Sappho 6 BC, Greece. Plato so admired her that he spoke of her not as lyricist, poet but called her the 10th Muse. Her poems spoke of relationships and were marked by emotion. In a male dominated era she schooled and mentored women artists on the island of Lesbos and her writing has often been equated with woman-love. “Rather than addressing the gods or recounting epic narratives such as those of Homer, Sappho’s verses speak from one individual to another.” NPOPP. 
Sappho’s work has often been referred to as fragments, because only two of her poems have survived in whole with the vast majority of her work surviving in fragments either from neglect, natural disasters, or possible censorship.
Sapphic Stanza is:
  • quantitative verse, measuring long / short vowels. In English we transition to metric measure of stress / unstressed syllables which warps the rhythm a bit but brings it into context the English ear can hear. L= long s = short
  • stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. This evolved to a quatrain during the Renaissance period from the ancient variable 3 to 4 line stanzas. The quatrain is made up of 3 Sapphic lines followed by an Adonic line which is usually written as a parallel to L3.
    Sapphic line = 11 syllables, trochaic with the central foot being a dactyl
    Adonic line = 5 syllables, a dactyl followed by a trochee
    (see below for more detail on these two components)
  • The modern Sapphic scansion should look like this (Stressed or Long = L; unstressed or short = s )
    Quantitative Verse (L=long syllable * s=short syllable)
    with substituted spondee
  • originally unrhymed, in the Middle Ages the stanza acquired rhyme, rhyme scheme abab. Because of the predominant use of trochee and dactyls the rhyme will generally be feminine or a 2 syllable rhyme with the last syllable unstressed.
  • Adonic line is most often written as a parallel to a previous line. It is the last line of the Sapphic stanza. It is composed in 5 syllables, a dactyl followed by a trochee. It can also be found as a pattern for the refrain in song to honor Adonis, from which it derived its name.
    “death has come near me.”
    last line of 
    Like the gods
    . . . by Sappho 4th century BC
    edited by 
    Richmond Lattimore
    Quantitative Verse
    Meaningless prattle. —jvg
  • Sapphic line -Since the Renaissance period the Sapphic line has been recognized as being a 5 foot trochaic line with the central foot being a dactyl. Prior to the Renaissance period this 11 syllable trochaic pattern was known as the “lesser” Sapphic line and the Sapphic line was a combination of the lesser Sapphic line and an adonic line.After Renaissance Sapphic line Ls-Ls-Lss-Ls-Ls : Passion, lust, consumed our beginnings fully.
    Prior to Renaissance Sapphic line Ls-Ls-Lss-Ls-Ls,- Lss Ls : greed to love? It happened deceptively, tricking emotions.
    Apparently, the technical terms of “lesser” Sapphic and Sapphic lines have been corrupted over time.
My Thanks to Judi Van Gorder for the wonderful resource at PMO
I am restating the specifications for the 21st century English writing poets, knowing full well that academicians may insist we have corrupted Sappho’s use of long and short vowel sounds.  A real poet might strive to make those sounds and the syllabic accents coincide, then none can argue.
A Sapphic Stanza is:
Stanzaic, consisting of any number of quatrains.
Syllabic, each stanza consisting 3 Sapphic Lines plus a Adonic line.
Metrical.  The Sapphic lines being trochaic with the central foot being a dactyl (11 syllables), and          The Adonic lines being a dactyl followed by a trochee (5 syllables)
Rhymed, the pattern being abab.
Example Poem
Quantitative Verse       (Sapphic Stanza)
Seek out passion, write of the trials that poets
face, with no complaint but with guidance, using
items neither trite nor near dying, so it’s
true and amusing.
© Lawrencealot – April 17, 2014
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In this example I have tried to make each accented syllable also use an English long vowel sound.
Sapphic Stanza

Classical Hendecasyllable

Classical Hendecasyllable
Line, Metrical Requirement
This is a trochee, a dactyl, and three trochees. The first and last trochees can be spondees.
XX Xxx Xx Xx XX or
Xx Xxx Xx Xx Xx
Line/Poem Length:
See Also:
To contact us, e-mail
Copyright © 2001-2013 by Charles L. Weatherford. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Charles for the wonderful resource above, which after investigation is frequently the only one I need.
I found these in quatrains with abab rhyme, and in a single 15 line unrhymed stanza by Robert Frost. “For Once, Then, Something” the only such he ever wrote in this form.
Example Poem
Extinguished          (Classical Hendecasyllable)
Glowing embers ignite when fanned with ardour
left alone they conserve by self-containment.
Love’s lost heat can be flamed by trying harder
Or, ignored and then settled by arraignment.
(c) Lawrencealot – March 2, 2014
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