Verse commun

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The verse commun (French "common", "general verse") is the most common meter in French , along with octosyllables and the alexandrine, which dominated from the 16th to the beginning of the 19th century .

The verse commun accordance with the rules of syllable-counting French Verslehre one at male end of a verse zehnsilbiger verse sounded, the standing with female end of a verse at the end unstressed syllable eleventh is in modern French.

In addition to the number of syllables, the verse commun characterizes a certain handling of the caesura , which usually lies after the fourth, exceptionally also after the sixth syllable and distinguishes it from other or more free forms of the ten-syllable (French: décasyllabe ).

middle Ages

In Old French poetry, the caesura is usually after the fourth and, exceptionally, after the sixth syllable and is usually masculine, i.e. H. the last word of the first half-verse ends with a stressed syllable. If the caesura is feminine, d. H. If there is an unstressed syllable, it is spoken in Old French, but not counted metrically, even if it is closed by a consonant or followed by a consonant initial sound and therefore cannot be combined with the following syllable. Example (anonymous chanson d'histoire ):

Quant vient en mai, || que l'on dit as lons jors,
que Franc de France || repairent de roi cort,
Reynauz repaire || devant el premier front.
Si s'en passa || lez lo meis Arembor,
ainz n'en dengna || le chief drecier amont.
"In May, which is called the month with the long days, / when the Franks from France return from the king's court, / Rainaut comes in the front row. / So he passed the Erembor house , / and yet did not even deign to lift his head. "

This feminine, so-called "epic" caesura as well as the caesura after the 6th syllable are used mainly as archaic stylistic devices in old French poetry. They are already disappearing in the courtly poetry of France, which also replaces the ancient or antiquated assonance (consonance of the stressed vowel with possible differences in the following sounds) with the full rhyme (consistency of all sounds from at least the stressed vowel).


Since the 16th century, the verse commun has not only been continued with a regular masculine caesura after the fourth syllable, but also, in accordance with the general development of the rhyme conventions, with regularly alternating male and female rhymes, with the female rhymes meanwhile due to the silence of their final syllables also sound masculine, but the difference can be heard in the connection to the initial sound of the following verse. The verse commun has been considered by the French poets since the Renaissance in the succession of Ronsard to be a meter less important than the Alexandrian . An example from Joachim Du Bellay , who still uses the verse commun and the Alexandrian in his Antiquités de Rome as equal measures for the treatment of his sublime subject, the lamentation of the decline of the greatness of Rome (No. V):

Qui voudra voir || tout ce qu'ont peu nature,
L'art & le ciel || (Rome) te vienne voir:
J'entends s'il peut || ta grandeur concevoir
Par ce qui n'est || que ta morte peinture.
"Who wants to see what was once the nature / art and the sky were able, Rome, get you to see: / provided that he can capture your size / means of what is only your lifeless image."

The French verse commun is also adapted in this form by the German baroque poets , in particular by Martin Opitz , who reproduced it in the accentuating German verse principle as an iambic five-key with a regular male caesura after the fourth syllable and alternating male and female rhymes . The metric scheme is therefore:

◡ — ◡— ‖ ◡ — ◡ — ◡— (◡)

In German poetry, however, the verse commun was soon replaced by the Alexandrian and then by the blank verse . A well-known example of the meter in German is the Mignon song from Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship :

Do you know the country Where the lemons bloom,
The gold oranges glow in the dark foliage,
A gentle wind blows from the blue sky,
The myrtle stands still and the laurel stands high.

19th and 20th centuries

With the partial retirement of the Alexandrian in French poetry of the 19th century, the verse commun was revalued again. It is partly continued in the regular form, partly again with a more free handling of the caesura, whereby here the feminine caesura is not allowed as an "epic caesura", but only according to the generally valid rule in New French, if the unstressed syllable is followed by a following vowel initial sound can be contracted. Example of the regular sequel ( Jules Supervielle , A un arbre ):

Avec un peu || de feuillage et de tronc
Tu dis si bien || ce que je ne sais dire
Qu'à tout jamais || je cesserais d'écrire
S'il me restait || aunt soit peu de raison.
"With some foliage and trunk / you say it so well that I can't say / that I would stop writing forever / if only I had at least a little bit of sense left."

On the other hand, an example of the verse commun with a more free handling of the caesura, which again includes the feminine caesura and the exceptional division 6 + 4, but also partly the clarity of the caesura and, due to the enjambement , the closure in favor of a more floating rhythm that allows different divisions and thus combines traditional and modern design language ( Paul Verlaine , A la promenade ):

Le ciel si pâle || et les arbres si grêles
Semblent sourire || à nos costumes clairs
Qui vont flottant || légers, | avec des airs
De nonchalance || et des mouvements d'ailes.
"The sky, which is so pale, and the trees, which are so tender, / seem to smile at our bright costumes / which float weightlessly, with the appearance / of carefree and the movements of wings."

In the handling of the caesuras not to be assigned to the verse commun in the narrower sense, on the other hand, the regular symmetrical division of the ten-silver, which has been encountered since the 15th century, according to the principle 5 + 5, with predominantly male caesuras and alternating rhymes, which depend on the equality of the halves Execution can produce a particularly rigid or even dance-song-like impression ( Victor Hugo , Choses du soir ):

La faim fait rêver || les grands loups moroses;
La rivière court, || le nuage fuit;
Derrière la vitre || où la lampe luit,
Les petits enfants || ont des têtes roses.
"Hunger makes the wretched wolves dream; / the river runs, the cloud flees; / behind the windowpane where the lamp shines / the little children have rose-colored heads (faces)."


Individual evidence

  1. Do you know the country? where the lemons bloom In: Goethe: Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. Vol. 2, Frankfurt and Leipzig 1795, pp. 7-8.