Long line

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The long line , also long verse, is a meter consisting of two half lines ( front and back verse ) that are connected by the allotted rhyme . The long line is the basic rhythmic unit of the Germanic alliteration poetry; later also in end rhyme poems, e.g. B. in the so-called " Nibelungenstrophe " and the early, Danubian Minnesang .

All-in-all seal

Structure of the long line

The long line follows very few rules as to its structure. It is divided into two half lines. A pause ( caesura ) is left between these lines . Each half-line has two stressed words (elevations) on which the bars are distributed. The anvers may have sticks on both stressed words, but the abvers only on the first. The second stressed word of the verse always remains empty.

Example, line 5 of the Hildebrandtslied :
g arutun se iro g uðhamun, || g urtun sih iro suert ana

The alliance rhymes on the consonant g are marked in bold. The second stressed word of the verse, suert, remains empty. The example line shows the ideal bar position with bars at the beginning of the half-lines without unstressed syllables in front of them. There are three different ways to set the bars according to the rules:

1 2 || 3 4 : Often S Cyld S cefing || s ceaþena þ reatum ( Beowulf 4)
1 2 || 3 4 : forn her o star gi w eit || fled her O tachres n id ( Hildebrandslied 18)
1 2 || 3 4 : bi g uol en Uu odan, || so he uu ola c onda ( Merseburg magic spells )

The scheme 1 2 || 3 4 is by far the most common, followed by 1 2 || 3 4 . The scheme 1 2 || 3 4 is used very rarely. However, where the bars should now be exactly and how many unstressed syllables are between them is not specified for the long line.

Development and variation

The Nordic continuation of the long line is the meter Fornyrðislag , which basically follows the same rules, except that it is strophic. The skalds of the Nordic Middle Ages also developed stricter meter measures from the long line ( e.g. Dróttkvætt ), in which the number of syllables and the position of the staff are fixed. Before the Nordic meter was developed by the skalds, the long line was the only type of Germanic poetry . The only difference was in the so-called "full line" - a line of verse that is not divided into two parts, but rather sticks in itself.

Example Hildebrandtslied lines 37 u. 38:

with g eru scal man || g eba infahan
o rt is o rte
(Long line consisting of upside and downside)
(Full line)

Such full lines characterize the Eddic meter Ljóðaháttr , which is mainly used in proverbs and memorial poetry. A variation of this is the meter Galdralag , in which the full line is repeated once more. In summary, it can be said that the long line is a free meter for epic poetry, which could be varied by a full line under the influence of proverbs and by several full lines under the influence of spells.


The oldest known long lines are inscriptions written in runes on the gold horn of Gallehus (approx. 400 AD) and for the southern Germanic area on the belt buckle of Pforzen (around 600). Literary certificates are:

End rhyme poem

Structure of the long line

In the medieval seal the long line is also the basic rhythmic unit, but not by the alliteration together. Instead, an end rhyme now connects two long lines and four long lines now form a stanza:

Example, Str. 1 of the Nibelungenlied , manuscript B:
Ez wuohs in Burgonden || a vil noble magedîn,
daz in all lands || not nice,
Heat Kriemhild. || You were a beautiful wîp.
umbe muosen degene || vil left the lîp.

The number of uplifts in front and back, which was previously limited to two because of the bars, now increases differently. In the Nibelungenstrophe the anverse has three and the abverse also has three lifts (except for the last abverse of the four lifts). However, other stanzas develop ( Kudrunstrophe , Hildebrandston ) that have different uplifts.

The rhymes can also be distributed differently. In the first stanza of the Nibelungenlied (handwriting A), both the anverse and the reverse rhyme with one another:

We are in old mæren || miraculous aside
from heroes lobebæren, || of larger work,

Nevertheless, it is true that in the Nibelungenlied the alliance has lost its function of structure, but remains a recurring phenomenon.


Important works of Middle High German poetry that use end-rhyming long lines are: Nibelungenlied , Kudrun , Jüngeres Hildebrandslied , Der von Kürenberg .

See also


  • Klaus von See: Germanic verse art ; Metzler Collection M 67; Stuttgart (1967)
  • Edith Marold : Stabreim , Fornyrðislag , Ljóðaháttr , verse and meter . In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde Vol. 6, 9, 18, 32nd (2nd edition) Berlin, New York 1986–2006.
  • W. Hoffmann: Old German metric . 2., revised. and supplemented edition Stuttgart: Metzler 1981. (Metzler Collection, M 64).

Individual evidence

  1. Splett, Jochen: The alliance in the "Nibelungenlied". Occurrence and style. In: Contributions to the history of German language and literature (PBB) (H) 86 (1964), pp. 247–278.