“EASTER” – by Ray Fowler

Weave a crown of thorns; spit on love incarnate;
Stretch his flesh against the splintered surface and
Strike the nail’s head. Crushed for our sins, the Savior
Breathes ever slower.

Breath of Spirit pierces the tomb’s dark chamber;
Blinding flash illumines the corpse now rising,
Standing, dancing, joyfully living love for
Those who had slain him.

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The following are some technical notes on the poem, “Easter,” for anyone who may be interested:

This poem consists of two Sapphic stanzas written in quantitative rather than accentual verse. Quantitative verse uses long and short syllables to achieve its meter rather than the stressed and unstressed syllables we are more familiar with in English poetry. The focus is on the duration of the syllable rather than on whether or not it is accented.

Quantitative verse is common in Greek and Latin poetry, whereas English poetry normally uses accentual verse. English has no set duration for syllables, so one can only approximate a Sapphic in English.

A Sapphic stanza consists of four lines. The first three lines each contain eleven syllables arranged according to the following pattern: (L = long syllable; S = short syllable):

  • Lines 1-3:   L   S   L   S   L   S   S   L   S   L   S

The fourth line contains five syllables arranged according to this pattern:

  • Line 4:   L   S   S   L   S

You will notice that the pattern of the fourth line is identical to the pattern of the fifth through ninth syllables found in each of the first three lines.

You put it all together and the complete pattern for a Sapphic stanza looks like this:

L   S   L   S   L   S   S   L   S   L   S
L   S   L   S   L   S   S   L   S   L   S
L   S   L   S   L   S   S   L   S   L   S
                   L   S   S   L   S

If you would like to learn more about Sapphics, here are a couple links: