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Alternation ( latin alternare , switch ' ) referred to in the Verslehre generally regular exchange of a divalent metric feature in a poem . In particular, it refers to the regular alternation of long and short syllables in the quantitating principle or between stressed and unstressed syllables in the accentuating verse principle . In the case of the resulting meter readings, one speaks of alternating meter measurements or, in the case of verses in alternating meter measures, of alternating verses and in poetry in which alternation is consistently observed, of alternating poetry .

In addition, alternation can also be the regular change of rhyme sex , so alternating male and female rhymes be seen what the Reimalternanz ( French Alternance of rimes ) is called.

If an alternating verse begins with a long or stressed syllable, the result is a trochaic scheme :

—◡ | —◡ | —◡ | —◡…

Example: Fést bricked in the earth

If, on the other hand, it begins with a short or unstressed syllable, the result is an iambic scheme:

◡— | ◡— | ◡— | ◡— | ...

Example: My heart beat, swiftly to Pférde

Accordingly, the only alternating meter measures are the iambus and the trochee and iambic or trochaic verses are the only alternating forms of verse. However, these are very common in German due to the natural trochaic emphasis on the two-syllable German hereditary words such as "Érde", "Váter" or "Sónne".

Alternation as a principle of verse originally comes from the Romance languages , was adopted into German poetry starting with Otfrid von Weißenburg from the Carolingian era and then appears in courtly poetry of the Middle Ages, for example in Friedrich von Hausen , Heinrich von Veldeke , Hartmann von Aue and Gottfried von Strasbourg more clearly. But also deviations in the form of uplift splitting , subsidence splitting and weighted uplift are frequent. In the 16th and early 17th centuries, a syllable-counting verse principle with strict alternation prevailed in the Meistersang and in the scholarly poetry based on the French model (e.g. Weckherlin ) , whereby the natural word accent was not decisive, which was too frequent Led tone diffraction .

In the 17th century, Martin Opitz tried to make an accentuating strict alternation, in which all verses of a poem alternate in their accentuation, binding:

"Afterwards everyone eats either an iambicus or a trochaicus."

This strict alternation could not prevail, however, as it contradicted the traditional freedom of filling of the Germanic poetry tradition . It was rejected by Weckherlin and in the 18th century by Breitinger . Already the approval of the dactyl by August Buchner , the contemporaries and heirs of Opitz, broke the strict principle. The non-alternating meter measures such as dactylus (—◡◡) and anapaest (◡◡—) then became very important from the end of the 18th century, especially in the reproduction of ancient verse forms such as the hexameter by poets like Klopstock and Holderlin, and the alternation as a poetic principle was lost strongly in importance and was rejected as excessively regular. As early as 1793, Herder said that

"[...] with this [modern] verse structure, the German language remains in possession and use of all its beautiful, polyglot and compound words, which have to be torn up and cut up, or compressed and sacrificed when the rattle of the iambic rhythm is first and the main law stay. "


Individual evidence

  1. The symbols - (long or stressed) and ◡ (short or unstressed) are used for the symbolic representation of the verse scheme ( metric notation ). | denotes the limit of the foot of the verse. ́ indicates an emphasis in the example text.
  2. Friedrich Schiller : The song of the bell . v.1.
  3. ^ Johann Wolfgang Goethe : Welcome and Farewell . v.1.
  4. ^ Martin Opitz: Book of the German Poetry . Breslau et al. 1624 ( online ).
  5. Johann Gottfried Herder: Scattered sheets (fifth collection) . Carl Wilhelm Ettinger, Gotha 1793, p. 281f.