Strophe

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A strophe is a poetic term originally referring to the first part of the ode in Ancient Greek tragedy, followed by the antistrophe and epode. The term has been extended to also mean a structural division of a poem containing stanzas of varying line length. In poems composed of similar units, such as epic poems, the term strophic is synonymous with stanzaic.

In its original Greek setting, "strophe, antistrophe and epode were a kind of stanza framed only for the music," as John Milton wrote in the preface to Samson Agonistes, with the strophe chanted by a Greek chorus as it moved from right to left across the scene.

Etymology[edit]

Strophe (/ˈstrf/ STROH-fee; Greek στροφή, "turn, bend, twist"; see also phrase) is a concept in versification which properly means a turn, as from one foot to another, or from one side of a chorus to the other.

Poetic structure[edit]

In a more general sense, the strophe is a pair of stanzas of alternating form on which the structure of a given poem is based, with the strophe usually being identical with the stanza in modern poetry and its arrangement and recurrence of rhymes giving it its character. But the Greeks called a combination of verse-periods a system, giving the name "strophe" to such a system only when it was repeated once or more in unmodified form.

Origins & development[edit]

It is said that Archilochus first created the strophe by binding together systems of two or three lines. But it was the Greek ode-writers who introduced the practice of strophe-writing on a large scale, and the art was attributed to Stesichorus, although it is probable that earlier poets were acquainted with it. The arrangement of an ode in a splendid and consistent artifice of strophe, antistrophe and epode was carried to its height by Pindar.

Variant forms[edit]

With the development of Greek prosody, various peculiar strophe-forms came into general acceptance, and were made celebrated by the frequency with which leading poets employed them. Among these were the Sapphic, the Elegiac, the Alcaic, and the Asclepiadean strophe, all of them prominent in Greek and Latin verse. The briefest and the most ancient strophe is the dactylic distych, which consists of two verses of the same class of rhythm, the second producing a melodic counterpart to the first.

Reproductions[edit]

The forms in modern English verse which reproduce most exactly the impression aimed at by the ancient odestrophe are the elaborate rhymed stanzas of such poems as Keats' Ode to a Nightingale or Matthew Arnold's The Scholar-Gipsy.

A strophic form of poetry called Muwashshah developed in Andalucia as early as the 9th century C.E, which then spread to North Africa and the Middle East. Muwashshah was typically in classical Arabic, with the refrain sometimes in the local dialect.

Types[edit]

Two verses

Pareado: aa / AA.

Alegría (Hapiness):

Cosante:

Dístico elegiaco:

Three Verses

Terceto: 11A 11B 11A

Tercetillo:

Soleá: a-a

Four Verses

Cuarteto: 11A 11B 11B 11A

Redondilla: 8a 8b 8b 8a

Serventesio: 11A 11B 11A 11B

Cuarteta: 8a 8b 8a 8b

Copla: - a - a

Seguidilla: 7a 5b 7a 5b ó 7- 5a 7- 5a

Cuaderna vía: 14A 14A 14A 14A

Five Verses

Quintilla:

Double Quintilla

Quintilla endecasílaba

Quintilla of Fray Luis de León

Royal Quintilla

Quinteto:

Quinteto de arte mayor

Quinteto contracto

Quinteto agudo

Lira: 7a 11B 7a 7b 11B

Six Verses

Sexteto o sextina: Versos

Sextilla:

Copla de pie quebrado or copla manriqueña: 8a 8b 4c 8a 8b 4c

Seven Verses

Compound Seguidilla: 7- 5a 7- 5a 5b 7- 5b

Eight Verses

Royal Octava: ABABABCC

Copla de arte mayor: ABBAACCA

Octavilla: 4- 4a 4a 4b 4- 4c 4c 4b

Ten Verses

Décima o espinela: abbaaccddc

Seguidilla chamberga: 7- 5a 7- 5a 3b 7b 3c 7c 3d 7d

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.