from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Alexandrian is in French literature developed and taken over from there to other literatures meter . In German poetry it was particularly common in the Baroque era .

In German it is a six-part iambic rhyme verse with 12 or 13 syllables, depending on the closure, and a caesura after the sixth syllable , i.e. exactly in the middle.

◡ — ◡ — ◡— ‖ ◡ — ◡ — ◡— (◡)

The closure - also called cadence - can be male or female; In general, the aim is to change male and female seals on a regular basis.

An example from It's all vain by Andreas Gryphius :

You see wherever you see, only vanity on earth.
What this is building today, will be torn by those who will
Where there are cities and towns there will be a knowledge,
On a shepherd's ski is playing with the herds.

A distinction is made particularly between the pair-rhymed heroic Alexandrian , who represents the ancient hexameter and in which a meaning incision can often be felt after every four verses, and the cross- rhymed elegiac Alexandrian , who represents the ancient elegiac distich and usually appears in stanzas. Sometimes the Alexandrian is also misleadingly referred to as the iambic hexameter - in metrical terms, however, it has nothing to do with the six-lever, ancient hexameter, which consists of several dactyls .

French literature

The Alexandrian (verse alexandrin) got its name from the Alexander novel written around 1180 , in which it is used consistently for the first time. However, it did not become a common meter until centuries later.

The French Alexandrian counts twelve syllables for male and 13 syllables for female cadence , so the twelfth syllable is always stressed. Due to an obligatory caesura after the also stressed sixth syllable, each line is divided into two half-verses (hémistiches). Any other regular internal rhythm, for example in iambs, is possible, but not mandatory and is not aimed for. This, as well as the fact that the stressed syllable before the caesura always ends a word, but not necessarily a unit of meaning, gives the French Alexandrian a flexible speaking style.

The Alexandrian did not become the predominant form of verse until the Renaissance and was now used in poetry, epic and drama. The pieces from the French classics of the 17th century, for example Pierre Corneilles , Racines or (at least in part) Molières, are written in Alexandrians rhyming in pairs. Likewise, most of the pieces z. B. Voltaire in the 18th century and Victor Hugos in the first half of the 19th century. He also dominated poetry well into the 19th century , for example with the renewing symbolists Charles Baudelaire , Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé .

Today it is historic and looks antiquated and weird when used. For example, when in the French comic Asterix and Cleopatra a resident of Alexandria greets the Gallic druid Miraculix with the words: “Je suis, mon cher ami, / très heureux de te voir.” And Miraculix explains to his friends: “C ' est un alexandrin! ”(“ I am, my dear friend, / very happy to see you. ”-“ That is an Alexandrian! ”)

German literature

In the 17th century, the Alexandrian penetrated into Germany from the then authoritative French literature. In by Martin Opitz embossed shape he was in the poetry of the Baroque , especially in the baroque sonnet , the dominant verse form. Andreas Gryphius used it with great mastery in his sonnets, but also in part in his dramatic poems.

The Alexandrian is particularly suitable for the concise formulation of paradoxes or antitheses, for example in sayings and epigrams. A two-liner consisting of a pair of Alexandrian rhymes is called an Alexandrian couplet . This was the dominant form in the epigram and saying poetry of the Baroque and was used many times , especially by Angelus Silesius , but was also popular with Opitz, Gryphius and Czepko . An example from The Cherubian Wanderer by Angelus Silesius:

Blossom, frozen Christian, May is at the door:
You'll stay dead forever if you don't bloom now and here.

The Alexandrian was also frequently used in Enlightenment and Anacreontic poetry . Goethe wrote his early comedies in this meter, as did his translation of Voltaire's play Mahomet . On the occasion of its performance, Schiller wrote to him:

"The ability of the Alexandrians to separate into two equal halves and the nature of rhyme to make a couplet out of two Alexandrians not only determine the whole language, they also determine the inner spirit of these pieces, the characters, the disposition, the behavior of the people. As a result, everything is subject to the rule of opposition, and just as the violin of the musician guides the movements of the dancers, so too does the two-legged nature of the Alexandrian guide the movements of mind and thoughts. The mind is constantly called upon and every feeling, every thought is forced into the bed of the Procrust in this form . "

In the epoch of Sturm und Drang and under the influence of Lessing's criticism of the French theater, the tendency of the German Alexandrian to monotony and to the artificial was perceived as negative. It was replaced in the dramatic poetry of the Weimar Classic and the period afterwards by the freer and more dynamic blank verse coming from England .

Indeed, the flexible rhythm of the French Alexandrian is easily lost in German. This is why experienced translators - such as Paul Celan in his adaptation of Rimbaud's famous long poem The Drunken Ship ( Le Bateau ivre ) - have added an additional, unstressed syllable to the verse before the caesura:

I slid down the rivers , carried  by the slow tide,
it zo: I felt -gen  not ‖ the Treidler me more [...]
Comme je descendais ‖ des fleuves impassibles,
Je ne me sentis plus ‖ guidé par les haleurs [...]

Hans Magnus Enzensberger was in 1979 on the occasion of his translation of Moliere's Misanthrope , "that the Alexandrians in German is not good for the theater. [...] This is not only due to reasons that lie in tradition; it has to do with the syntactic structure of our language, which defies the symmetry requirements of this meter. "Enzensberger used in his translation" one less elevation , and the twisted, strained tone almost disappears by itself. "

Other literatures

The Alexandrian plays a subordinate role in English literature. Michael Drayton used it in his extensive work Poly-Olbion (1613-1622). Chapman used it in his translation of Homer's Iliad (1611), but switched to the more flexible heroic verse for the Odyssey (1614-15) , a rhyming iambic five-key .

In Spanish and Italian literature, where the ten- or eleven-syllable iambic five-syllable ( endecasilabo ) predominated, the Alexandrian was not used.

Connection with other verses

The Alexandrian can be used with other verses both in the strophic context and in free alternation.

An example of the strophic use is the Spenserstrophe (Spenserian stanza) used by Edmund Spenser in the verse epic The Faerie Queene (1589–1596 ) , which closes with an alexandrine and thus gains a solemn and solemn conclusion. Even Lord Byron's epic poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is written in Spenserstrophen. In his Essay on Criticism (1711) Alexander Pope scoffs : "A needless Alexandrine ends the song, That, like a wounded snake, / drags its slow length along."

The free alternation with other verses often occurs in narrative poems in 18th century German poetry. Four sample verses from Christoph Martin Wieland's Musarion :

Amused by the high swing
Our doctor took the clever beauty
As if with a lust for hearing and with admiration
Her breasts stretch in his bonds.

After a four-part verse, two six-part alexandrines and a five-part verse commun with the distinctive cut after the fourth syllable. This change between four levers without a fixed caesura, verse commun and Alexandriner is also shown in many other texts, for example, mockingly Faustin ( Gotthold Ephraim Lessing ), mentally Der Metaphysiker ( Friedrich Schiller ), subdued and restrained On the portrait of a sufferer ( Christian Adolph Overbeck ) .


Web links

Wiktionary: Alexandrians  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Asterix and Cleopatra. S. 7. Cf. German Asterix Archive / Lexicon: Alexandriner
  2. Karl Bartsch : Goethe and the Alexandrines . Goethe-Jahrbuch , Volume 1 (1880), pp. 119-139: Digitized
  3. ^ Friedrich Schiller, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Correspondence between Schiller and Goethe. Second volume, No. 654: To Goethe. Jena, October 15, 1799. 4th edition Cotta, Stuttgart 1881, online .
  4. Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Afterword in: Molière: Der Menschenfeind. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1979, ISBN 3-458-32101-2 , p. 106.