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The Italian hendecasilabo (plural endecasillabi ) and the Spanish hendecasilabo (plural endecasilabos ) are specific forms of a (mostly rhymed ) elf silbler . In both languages, the term simply means "Elfsilbler". It is a classic, at times dominant meter. In the syllable-counting metric of Italian and Spanish poetry , it is determined by the fact that an obligatory stress is on the 10th syllable and another stress on the 4th or 6th syllable. So you have a metric scheme of the two main forms

xxx x́ xxxxx x́ x


xxxxx x́ xxx x́ x.

By defining the position of further stresses and obligatory caesuras , numerous sub-forms result, each of which has its own designation according to the meaning of the meter in the two literatures. In general, the forms do not appear in pure form, rather the metrical form will be varied in successive verses, which enables a rhythmically varied design of the verse sequence.

Italian poetry

The hendecasyllable since Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy , the most widely used in the Italian poetry meter . In its classic form, the two main forms are called endecasillabo a minore (stress on the 4th syllable) and endecasillabo a maiore (stress on the 6th syllable), with a caesura following the stressed syllable. However, this only describes common basic types, exceptions are not uncommon and also not inadmissible, but rather belong to the range of variation of the meter.

In the standard case, the hendecasil actually has 11 syllables and a feminine closure ( verso piano ). There are shortened verses with 10 syllables, which also count as elf syllables if they have a masculine closure ( verso tronco ):

xxxxxxxxx x́

The endecasyllable can also be extended by an unstressed syllable and thus contain 12 syllables. He then has a sliding closure ( verso sdrucciolo ):

xxxxxxxxx x́ xx

Further rhythmic variants result from the fact that the caesura does not have to follow the moving accent, but rather comes at the end of the corresponding word. With the second main stress on the 4th syllable there are three variants, depending on the word that contains the tone syllable:

  • oxytonic ( parola tronca ): xxx x́ ‖ xxxxx x́ x
  • paroxytonic ( parola piana ): xxx x́ x ‖ xxxx x́ x
  • proparoxytonic ( parola sdrucciola ): xxx x́ xx ‖ xxx x́ x

In spite of all the variation, it is a constant of the endecasyllable that the parts before and after the caesura have a different number of syllables. After all, it is a question of perspective whether or not the hendecasil is viewed as a verse composed of two half-verses. In the first case, according to the rules of syllable counting, the unstressed syllables before the caesura would not be counted, which would result in further possible variants.

There is also a great deal of variation when it comes to the possibilities of rhythmization. Due to the position of the main accentuation, a regular iambic rhythm (◡ — ◡ — ◡ — ◡ — ◡ — ◡) is obvious, as it is mostly used in the reproduction of the endecasilabo in German (see below), but they are also completely different Rhythms possible, for example with a maiore :

Quanto piu desiose ‖ l'ali spando
—◡ — ◡◡ — ́◡ ‖ —◡ — ́◡


  • iambic in the first part and trochaic-dactylic in the second part:
Le donne i cavalier ‖ l'arme gli amori
◡ — ◡ — ◡ — ́ ‖ —◡◡ — ́◡

In the classic examples of Dante and Petrarch, the hendecasil is rhymed. The non-rhyming variant with female closure ( endecasillabo sciolto piano / blank verse) plays an important role as an epic verse and in translations as an equivalent of the classical hexameter . Examples of this use can be found in Gian Giorgio Trissino's epic L'Italia liberata dai Goti (1528), in Annibale Caro's translation of the Aeneid (posthumously 1581), the translations of the Iliad by Vincenzo Monti and the Odyssey by Ippolito Pindemonte and the transmissions of modern times Epic by John Milton ( Andrea Maffei ), Klopstock ( Giovanni Battista Cereseto ) and Ossian ( Melchiorre Cesarotti ). Versi sciolti also use Renaissance tragedy writers such as Trissino ( Sofonisba ) and Rucellai ( Rosmunda ). The blank verse only became popular in Italian poetry in classicism (literature) and romanticism .

Spanish poetry

The endecasílabo terminology largely corresponds to the Italian one. Here, too, the elf syllable ( endecasilabo ) assumes a female dispatcher when counting syllables ( llano exit), a distinction is made between endecasílabo a minori and endecasílabo a maiori and depending on the word with the secondary emphasis oytonic ( agudo ), paroxytonic ( llano ) or is proparoxytonic ( esdrújulo ), a caesura is required after, after the next or the next but one syllable, which should not separate any syntactic meaning unit. In Spanish poetics, however, there is more differentiation and differentiation according to rhythm types. So with endecasilabo a maiori (secondary stress on the 6th syllable), also called endecasílabo común, propio, real or italiano , depending on the position of further stresses in the first half verse:

  • 1st syllable: endecasílabo enfático
x́ xxxx x́ xxx x́ x
  • 2nd syllable: endecasílabo heróico
x x́ xxx x́ xxx x́ x
  • 3rd syllable: endecasílabo melódico
xx x́ xx x́ xxx x́ x

The a minori type (secondary stress on the 4th syllable) distinguishes between:

  • Secondary stress on 8th syllable:
xxx x́ xxx x́ x x́ x
xxx x́ ‖ x́ xx x́ x x́ x
  • endecasílabo yámbico (since the stresses are on the even syllable positions 4, 8 and 10 according to an iambic rhythm):
xxx x́ x ‖ x́ x x́ x x́ x
  • endecasílabo a la francesca :
xxx x́ ‖ xxx x́ x x́ x or with an epic caesura xxx x́ x ‖ xxx x́ x x́ x, whereby the last unstressed syllable of the first half-verse is not counted
xxx x́ ‖ x x́ xxx x́ x (the secondary accent can be on the 6th syllable instead of the 8th)
  • Secondary stress on 7th syllable:
xxx x́ xx x́ xx x́ x
  • endecasílabo dactílico or endecasílabo anapéstico (three-part form with three-syllable anacrusis ):
◡◡◡ — ◡◡ — ◡◡ — ◡
  • endecasílabo galaico-portugues, endecasílabo de gaita gallega, endecasílabo de arte mayor (further emphasis on 1st syllable):
—◡◡ — ◡◡ — ◡◡ — ◡

Finally, as a special type, the endecasílabo galaico antiguo with additional stress on the 5th syllable:

xxxx x́ x ‖ xxx x́ x

Despite these numerous forms and the even more numerous sub-forms when taking rhythm into account, the dominant forms are the endecasílabo heróico and endecasílabo sáfico , although never rigidly used throughout, but alternating and varying as in Italian poetry.

As far as the historical development is concerned, the first isolated examples can be found in the epic poetry of the Middle Ages ( Cantar de Mio Cid ), but there can be no question of a systematic use. The endecasílabo became dominant in the Spanish Renaissance . From the 16th century onwards it prevailed and

"... was able to assert itself through all centuries and through all efforts to innovate as the classic verse of Spanish art poetry to this day."

German poetry

In German, the endecasil is usually represented by an iambic five - lifter , often also with a male closure:

◡ — ◡ — ◡ — ◡ — ◡— (◡)

As an example, the first stanza from a dedication by Goethe

The Mor gen came ; it scheuch th is ne step e
the lei sen sleep that I ge lind to began ,
That I , he wakes from mei ner quiet en Hütt e
Den Berg hi nOn with fresh he lake le went ;
I 'm te me at ei nem according to step e
The new en Blu me the full drip en hung ;
The young e day he picked up with Ent Zück s,
and all of it was he QuickT me to it quick s.

The hendecasilabo appears mostly in Romanesque stanzas such as the stanza in this example or in the sonnet , for example in August Wilhelm Schlegel . The verse was particularly popular in Romanticism , there alongside Schlegel with Ludwig Tieck ( Solitude ), in Fin de Siècle with Stefan George and in Expressionism with Georg Heym and Georg Trakl .


  • Rudolf Baehr : Spanish verse theory on a historical basis. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1962, pp. 87-104.
  • Wilhelm Theodor Elwert: Italian metric. Hueber, Munich 1968, pp. 54-65, 128 f. 2., by the author. u. exp. Aufl. Steiner, Wiesbaden 1984, pp. 13-17.
  • Otto Knörrich: Lexicon of lyrical forms (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 479). 2nd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-47902-8 , pp. 55 f ..

Individual evidence

  1. Petrarch Sonnet 108, v.1.
  2. ^ Ludovico Ariosto Orlando furioso , Canto 1, (Proemio) , v.1
  3. ^ Wilhelm Theodor Elwert: Italian metric. 2., by the author. u. exp. Aufl. Steiner, Wiesbaden 1984, pp. 98-100.
  4. ^ Rudolf Baehr: Spanish verse theory on a historical basis. Tübingen 1962, p. 100.
  5. ^ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Berlin edition. Poetic works. Volume 1, Berlin 1960 ff, p. 7 .