Vagant stanza

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As Vagantenstrophe refers to a group of closely related four- or achtzeiliger verse forms , which in a similar form in the medieval Latin Vagantendichtung decline.

The starting point is the so-called vagante line , which corresponds to the Trochean septary of the Latin vagante poetry. The verse is known from the so-called vagante confession of the Archipoeta from the Carmina Burana :

Méum ést propósitúm ‖ ín tabérna móri

Whose metric shape is

—◡ — ◡ — ◡— ‖ —◡ — ◡ — ◡

with diheresis after the fourth exaltation . The Vagantenzeile corresponds to this as a long line , consisting of a four-letter anverse with a masculine (monosyllabic) and a three-letter abverse with a female (two-syllable) cadence . The meter can be both trochaic and iambic , i.e. also

◡ — ◡ — ◡ — ◡— ‖ ◡ — ◡ — ◡ — ◡

with 15 instead of 13 syllables. As an example, an iambic translation of the Archipoeta verse:

As a fateful I am destined to go crazy at the Trésen

By breaking the long line into two verses and doubling it, the four-line vagant stanza is created according to the scheme 4m 3w 4m 3w. If then, as in the Latin model, only the verses are rhymed, then you have the rhyme scheme[xaxa]If the verses are also rhymed, the result is a cross rhyme [abab]. As an example, a stanza by Heine (trochaic with not quite pure cross rhyme):

Soft bells pass through my mind .
Blade, little spring song.
Kling out into the distance.

The metric scheme is here:

—◡ — ◡ — ◡—
—◡ — ◡ — ◡
—◡ — ◡ — ◡—
—◡ — ◡ — ◡

By doubling it further, the vagant stanza becomes an eight-liner with a rhyme scheme[ababcdcd] or [xaxaxbxb], For example in the table song of Goethe (trochaic, rhyme scheme[xaxaxaxa]), here the first stanza:

I am seized, I don't know how,
Heavenly comfort. Does it
even want to
carry me up to the stars?
But I'd rather stay here,
I can honestly say,
while singing and glasses of wine, slapping
the table.

Each of the four combinations resulting from the combination of iambic or trochaic and four- or eight-liner was popular in German poetry at one time or another. The iambic quatrain, which appears in Hugo von Montfort's or in the ballad by the knight Tannhauser , was particularly popular . In the Baroque period there are numerous examples of sacred songs with this stanza form, for example in the epoch-related mood of Johann Michael Dilherr :

Be well, you wretched world,
With your specs,
lust, honor, wealth, property and money,
So you wont scatter.

Or in Hoffmannswaldau's evening song :

The black wing in the dull night
Will cover everything;
But what God's finger does
brings me little fright.

In art poetry, this stanza is found more frequently, but only from the end of the 18th century, and in the 19th century it became one of the most widely used stanzas among the Romantics because of its proximity to the tone of the folk song.

An example from Matthias Claudius ( A song to sing behind the stove ):

Winter is a real man,
core festival and long-term;
His flesh feels like iron,
and is not afraid of sweet or sour.

Like the formally very similar Chevy Chase verse (this has a male cadence throughout, so it is shortened by one syllable compared to the vagant verse in the second and fourth verse) it was also used for ballads , for example by Fontane in his ballad Chevy -Chase or the hunt in the Chevy Forest , although he doesn't quite stick to the stanza form that is actually obvious from the title:

God protect the King, our Lord,
And our lives all;
In the Chevy Forest there was once a
woeful hunt.

Finally, as an example from the 20th century, the opening stanzas of Erich Kästner's The Whisper of a Waiter :

Do you know the guy You know him too?
Here you can see fine guests!
I've got anger in my stomach that
doesn't fit into my vest ...

First the guy over there wants some thin tea.
Then he wants to strengthen again.
The boy sits down in the café
to annoy waiters to death!


  • Alfred Behrmann : Introduction to the newer German verse. From Luther to the present. Metzler, Stuttgart 1990.
  • Horst Joachim Frank : Handbook of the German strophic forms. 2nd Edition. Francke, Tübingen & Basel 1993, ISBN 3-7720-2221-9 , pp. 133-136 (No. 4.31), 148-154 (No. 4.36), 590-592 (No. 8.13), 597-600 (No. 8.15).
  • Otto Knörrich: Lexicon of lyrical forms (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 479). 2nd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-47902-8 , pp. 245 f ..
  • Karl Langosch (Ed.): Vagantendichtung. Latin and German. 2nd edition Dieterich, Leipzig 1984 (= Dieterich Collection 316).
  • Gero von Wilpert : Subject dictionary of literature. 8th edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-520-84601-3 , p. 869.

Individual evidence

  1. Carmina Burana 191 Estuans intrinsecus ira vehementi 12.1
  2. ^ Heinrich Heine: Works and letters in ten volumes. Volume 1. 2. Ed. Berlin and Weimar 1972, pp. 217-218, online .
  3. No. 4.31 in Frank: Handbuch der Strophenformen .
  4. ^ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Berlin edition. Poetic works. Volume 1, Berlin 1960 ff., P. 85, online .
  5. No. 8.13 in Frank: Handbuch der Strophenformen .
  6. No. 4. 36 in Frank: Handbuch der Strophenformen .
  7. Deutscher Liederhort No. 27a
  8. Johann Porst (Ed.): Spiritual and lovely songs . Verb. And verm. Output. Jonas, Berlin 1868, song number 746, p. 927 f.
  9. ^ Hoffmannswaldau: evening song . v. 1-4. In: Auserlesene Gedichte by Christian Hoffmann von Hoffmannswaldau,… Leipzig 1838, p. 70, online .
  10. Rank 4 of the total frequency according to Frank: Handbuch der Stanzformen. P. 752 f.
  11. ^ Matthias Claudius: Works in one volume. Munich 1976, p. 235, online .
  12. ^ Theodor Fontane: Complete Works. Volume 20 of 25, Munich 1959 ff., Pp. 306-312, online .