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A monostitch (from the Greek μόνος , monos “one” and στίχος , stichos “line”; German also one-liner ) is a poem that consists of a single line; it may or may not be based on a meter.

A well-known example from German-language literature is this monostitch of Goethe ( entry in the register for Heinrich Beck , Weimar, January 31, 1791 ):

Nature suffices flowers, art winds them into a wreath

Here the meter is a hexameter , a common form of the monostitch; Friedrich Rückert, for example, designed Low German proverbs as hexametric monostiches in his song diary from 1855:

Hey, if I died, the dog pisses on my tombstone.

But Rückert also wrote Monosticha outside of this framework, partly in hexameters, partly in other verse forms such as the trimeter . Friedrich Haug also made use of the hexameter (From the meaning poems , Frankfurt 1791):

Happy covenant where the husband is the head and the wife is the heart.

Occasionally a prosaic aphorism also takes the form of verse, probably unintentionally; in Wilhelm Busch, for example, this flawless hexameter can be found among the aphorisms :

God's reward! said the beggar; then the bread fell through his box.

Despite its extreme brevity, a monostitch like a distich can also have a heading or a title, as the well-known verse by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing shows (from the gleanings of the epistemic poems ):

Grave inscription on a hanged man
Here he rests when the wind is not blowing.

The best-known example in French poetry, a one-liner by Guillaume Apollinaire ( Alcools 1913), also has a headline :

Et l'unique cordeau des trompettes marines.

And the single string of Mary's trumpets .

In modern poetry, too, the form remains rare. Examples can be found in Yvor Winters , AR Ammons , WS Merwin and Howard Nemerov .

Due to its extreme brevity, the monostitch, like the distich, is mainly used for forms that draw their aesthetic charm from scarcity and compression, i.e. literary miniature forms such as gnomes , epigrams , mottos , proverbs , sentences and the like.

See also: monostitch