Ars Metrica

Integrating quantitative meter in non-quantitative metrical systems:

the rise and fall of the German hexameter


The de­fault of met­ric­al or­gan­isa­tion is that it is based on the pros­od­ic or­gan­isa­tion of a lan­guage. If a lan­guage has vow­el quant­ity, the quant­ity con­trast is very likely to be found in its met­ric­al pat­terns. If a lan­guage does not show this con­trast, a quant­ity-based met­ric­al sys­tem is un­likely. Un­like Clas­sic­al Lat­in and Old Greek, New High Ger­man neither dis­tin­guishes between long and short syl­lables nor between long and short vow­els. The re­la­tion­ship between pros­ody and met­rics left Ger­man po­ets with the ques­tion of how to in­cor­por­ate for­eign meters which con­tra­dict the nat­ive pros­od­ic sys­tem. This pa­per is about the quest for a solu­tion which took cen­tur­ies: the in­teg­ra­tion of the hexa­met­er in­to Ger­man. Read more