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The Verslehre or metric ( ancient Greek μετρική τέχνη metrikē Techne , German , metric Art ' , theory of (verse) moderation', then Latin ars metrica ) deals with the properties of the bound language , particularly with regard to their division into - through repetition - perceived units such as verse and stanza . In addition to the rhythmic structuring, the means of this linguistic design are the various forms of sound binding such as rhyme , assonance and alliteration .

Metrics as a scientific discipline is subdivided into the areas

  • comparative metric,
  • systematic metric,
  • historical metric and
  • theoretical metric.

The comparative metric examines the various languages ​​and their literatures with regard to the decisive design elements in them. The concept of the principle of verse is central here . One differentiates:

Comparative metric also examines the problems that arise when metric terms are unreflectedly exchanged between languages ​​with very different principles. This is of particular importance in German metrics, which was at times shaped by (syllable-counting) French poetry and from the 18th century onwards through the adoption of forms and terms from (quantitating) ancient poetry, which has been repeatedly lamented to this day Confusion of metric terms and concepts resulted.

The systematic metric examines existing poetic works for similarities and structuring elements and works with terms such as

and differentiates between their various designs and characteristics through appropriate terms and definition of their characteristics. Means of the concept formation is the determination of the scheme of a certain metrical form (for example the rhyme scheme of a stanza form or that of the footing of a meter, the cadence of a bar series or the structure of verses in kola by caesura and diheresis ), whereby one different, the forms of metric notation adapted to the respective area .

The historical metric examines the historical development of the lyric forms, mostly related to a specific language or literature. In the historic metric of the Germans which is about the replacement of the old Germanic alliterative end long line through the Otfridschen Reimvers in the middle of the 9th century. Another subject is the investigation of historical theories, such as the works of the ancient Alexandrian grammarians or the effect of Martin Opitz 's book Von der Deutschen Poeterey on German poetry. And finally, the relationships, influences and takeovers between the various literatures are explored in their historical dimension, for example the influence of French poetry on Baroque poetry in Germany and France.

The theoretical metric begins with the aforementioned works of the Hellenistic grammarians and sets itself the goal on the descriptive approach of systematic metric, the essence of the lyric forms to determine, in contrast to what has become random historically. The problems arising from the approach were already evident in antiquity in the form of different schools with contradicting theories, for example among grammarians the one school that wanted to derive all Metra from 8 to 10 basic measures ( metra prototypa ), in contrast to the representatives of Derivation theory, which wanted to derive all metra from hexameter and iambic trimeter . In German, the purely scientific metrics operated by philologists had little influence on poetic practice. The influence of theoretically working poets such as Opitz, Klopstock and Lessing and in modern times Friedrich Georg Jünger was relatively more significant .

In addition to differentiating the different directions of the metric according to their approach, it is also useful to subdivide according to language, since for each individual language and literature, in addition to the respective historical developments, there are also very peculiar possibilities or problems due to the natural prosody of the language that can be examined. The following are important areas:

  • Ancient metrics: Traditionally, the Greek and Latin metrics dominate strongly . Rather marginally the investigation of late antique or early medieval forms of Middle Latin metrics on the one hand, in particular the metrics of church poetry, and for the corresponding late forms in Greek the Byzantine metrics on the other. On the verge of interest, the doctrine of other ancient cultures, particularly ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and ancient Hebrew metrics.
  • German metric
  • French metric
  • Italian metric
  • Spanish metric
  • English metric

The following are to be mentioned as important scientists who dealt with verse doctrine:


reference books


  • Ivo Braak : Poetics in a nutshell. 8th edition. Bornträger, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-443-03109-9 .
  • Remigius Bunia : Metrics and Cultural Policy. Theory of understanding in Opitz, Klopstock and Bürger in the European tradition. Ripperger & Kremers, 2014, ISBN 978-3-943999-11-2
  • Dieter Burdorf: Introduction to poetry analysis. Stuttgart, Weimar 1995.
  • Christoph Küper: Language and Meter. Semiotics and Linguistics of Verse. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1988, ISBN 3-484-10574-7 .
  • Burkhard Moennighoff: Metrik (= Reclams Universal Library. Vol. 17649). Reclam, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-15-017649-2 .

Ancient metric

  • Sandro Boldrini : Prosody and Metrics of the Romans. Teubner, Stuttgart, Leipzig 1999, ISBN 3-519-07443-5 .
  • Wilhelm Christ : Metric of the Greeks and Romans. Teubner, Leipzig 1874.
  • Friedrich Crusius : Roman metric. An introduction. Newly edited by Hans Rubenbauer. Georg Olms, Hildesheim 1984. ISBN 3-487-07532-6
  • Hans Drexler : Introduction to the Roman Metric. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1974, ISBN 3-534-04494-0 .
  • Dietmar Korzeniewski: Greek metric. 3rd, unchanged. Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1991, ISBN 978-3534044962 .
  • Paul Maas : Greek Metrics (= Introduction to Classical Studies. Vol. 1.7). Teubner, Leipzig 1929.
  • Wilfried Neumaier: Ancient rhythm theories. Historical form and current substance. Grüner, Amsterdam 1989, ISBN 90-6032-064-6 .
  • Karl Rupprecht : Introduction to the Greek Metric. 3rd, completely revised edition. Hueber, Munich 1950.
  • Otto Schröder : Nomenclator metricus. Heidelberg 1929.
  • Christiaan Marie Jan Sicking: Greek verse theory (= handbook of ancient studies. Dept. 2, part 4). Beck, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-406-35252-9 .
  • Otto Skutsch : Prosodic and metric laws of the abbreviation of the lamb . Goettingen 1934.
  • Bruno Snell : Greek metric. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1982.
  • Richard Volkmann u. a .: Rhetoric and metrics of the Greeks and Romans. 3rd, revised edition. 1901.
  • Christian Zgoll : Roman prosody and metrics. A study book with audio files. Darmstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-534-23688-6 .

Middle Latin metric

  • Paul Klopsch : Introduction to the Middle Latin verse theory. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1972, ISBN 3-534-05339-7 .
  • Wilhelm Meyer : Collected treatises on Middle Latin rhythm. 3 volumes. Weidmann, Berlin 1905–1936. Reprint: Olms, Hildesheim, New York 1970.
  • Dag Ludvig Norberg: Introduction à l'étude de la versification latine médiévale. Almqvist & Wiksell, Stockholm 1958.

German metric

  • Erwin Arndt: German verse theory. A demolition. 12th revised edition. Berlin 1990.
  • Herbert Bögl: Outline of the Middle High German metric. With an exercise part. Olms, Hildesheim 2006.
  • Dieter Breuer: German metrics and verse history. Fink, Munich 1981, ISBN 3-7705-1623-0 . 3rd edition 1994, ISBN 3-8252-0745-5 .
  • Horst Joachim Frank : Handbook of the German strophic forms. 2nd Edition. Francke, Tübingen & Basel 1993, ISBN 3-7720-2221-9 .
  • Daniel Frey: Introduction to German Metrics. Munich 1996.
  • Otto Paul, Ingeborg Glier : German metrics. 9th edition. Hueber, Munich 1974.
  • Christian Wagenknecht : German metric. A historical introduction. 5th enlarged edition. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 3-406-55731-7 .
  • Volkhard Wels: Artful verses. Style and verse reforms around 1600 and the emergence of a German-language 'art poetry'. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2018, ISBN 978-3-447-11073-0 ( available online at ).

Modern language metric

Web links

Wikisource: Metrics  - Sources and Full Texts
Wiktionary: Verslehre  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations