The measure or metrum is a concept from the verse (metric). In this context, the measure describes the extent to which the individual syllables in each verse are accentuated or unstressed. In this way, the verses within a poem can, of course, influence the rhythm and structure, but also the mood and our reading.
A syllable is thus the smallest metric unit in a word. It describes the sounds within a word which we pronounce when speaking in a train and thus forms a speaker. Let us take the composite word Baumhaus as an example, and once express it clearly.
It is striking that we split up the word when speaking. We first speak the unity tree and then the word house. From this we can deduce that the word consists of two syllables.
If we want to understand the verse in the lyric, we have to start with this smallest unit, the syllable, in order to exclude mistakes in hindsight.
This principle could, of course, be applied to all the other words we have in our vocabulary. For example, the word bicycle also consists of two syllables as the noun specter.
And, of course, there are also words that have several syllables and others that consist of only one. So we find in the Christmas man three syllables and in the star at most a syllable.
In Santa Claus and the ghost, we can also see that syllables do not always have to be whole words.
After all, the units would be white, at night, man, ge and spenst. And, of course, Spenst is in no way an independent word in our language. In fact, syllables mean only the smallest possible language unit of the word that we divide when speaking.
In principle, the measure describes the sequence of syllables in a word. However, this is not so much the number of these, but their exact sequence. If we want to recognize the measure, we distinguish in unaccented and emphasized syllables.
Accented and unaccented syllables in measure
The difficulty in determining the measure is therefore less the separation of the word syllables, than the distinction in unaccented and stressed syllables. The problem is often that there are rules for multi-syllable words, but no proper guidance for exam situations and we have to trust in our feeling for language.
Stressed syllables are usually voiced, emphasized and emphasized. That is why we speak of a stressed syllable also by an uplift.
Unstable syllables are therefore the counterpart. They are not emphasized or emphasized by the speaker. Therefore, these syllables are also referred to as lowering.
Let’s look again at our example word and try to break it up. Let us begin with the phantom, which obviously consists of two syllables. These are ge and natural spenst.
If we pronounce the word loudly and clearly, we should notice which syllable we emphasize. This means that we pronounce them a little louder – perhaps even more clearly – than the other. In this case, the emphasis is on the second syllable, on the spine, while the stress remains unstressed.
Tip: Sometimes it helps to spice a sentence around the word, so the emphasis becomes clearer. Otherwise we run the risk of always emphasizing the first syllable in a poem, even if it is in fact unstressed.
Mark the measure
Although it is very helpful to characterize the individual syllables in color, one has agreed in science to another mark. Namely, the symbols, x and x. The first symbol stands for one elevation (emphasized) and the second for the reductions (unstressed) within a word.
If we look again at our ghost, we could, of course, also represent the raising and lowering differently. Instead of designating an increase and decrease with orange and blue, we simply use the respective characters.
Spooks → unstressed → Loweringlift → xx
Note: There is also the possibility to mark the measure using an accent. A small stroke is placed above the stressed syllable, and all unstressed syllables remain unmarked. (Spook)
In principle, however, it is only important to recognize the correct order in order to determine the measure and to ensure that the marking is uniform.
Now we have split the ghost into its individual parts and know that it consists of an unstressed and stressed syllable. Thus we have just recognized the measure of the word, and we have only to determine it and arrange it on a footing.
These verses are the metrical outline of a verse. Let us suppose that our poem would merely consist of the repetition of the word ghost and look something like this.
We could now illustrate this by using the stressed and unstressed syllables to determine the measure. That would look something like this.
x, x, x, x?
So we have to do with the sequence of an unstressed and a stressed syllable. We call an unstressed and a stressed syllable in the literary science of Yambus. Further examples, besides the ghost, are the words mind or also substitute
Now we can give a relatively precise description of the verses of our little poems. It consists of the four-time repetition of the jambus, that is, four jambs.
However, we would not describe this repetition of the verses with the words “four jambs”, but on the one hand we must recognize the verse as such (yambus) and additionally specify the heights in the individual lines.
This means that our poem has an iambic structure (in all verses), with a two-armed jamb.
two – arched x, x, x, x?
two – arched x, x, x, x!
If, however, our poem would look like this,
three – strong x, x, x, x, x, x
three – strong x, x, x, x, x, x
(x) in the verse, so each row consists of three jambs, which have three elevations. The lines thus consist of a three-armed jambus.
Note: We do not give the number of jambs for the sizing, but check which sizing the respective verse has and then count the individual elevations. If there are three jambs per verse, one speaks of a three-strong yambus, etc.
Verse and Verses
There are, of course, other constellations (verses) next to the Jambus that can be found in a poem. Therefore, we would now like to show you the individual verses, so that you can determine the measurement in the future with certainty.
We have already extensively studied the Yambus in the course of the article. It basically consists of an unstressed and stressed syllable and is given by xx. Let us look at the first stanza of the poem “On the Gray Beach, on the Gray Sea” by Theodor Storm.
On the gray beach, on the gray sea
And the city has been lying there;
The mist makes the roofs heavy,
And through the stillness the sea roars
Monotonous around the city.
The Trochaeus is, in principle, the inversion of the yambus. The Trochaeus thus describes that a stressed syllable encounters an unstressed syllable. A good example of the Trochaeus is, by the way, the word of Yambus, since the syllable is stressed by jam, whereby bus remains unstressed. (Xx). As an example, a verse from Schiller’s famous poem To serve the joy.
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
The measure in the Dactylus is now a little heavier, at least if we want to determine and recognize it. The Dactylus is composed of one concise and two unstressed syllables. The beautiful thing in this is that the word Dak ty lus itself is such when we listen carefully. So we could represent the dactyl as follows: x’xx
Furthermore, in our German language, we find numerous individual words, which carry a dactyl, such as, for example, the orbit, the drive, or the filler.
But, of course, in the lyric, too, we find beautiful examples where the dactyls extend over several words. A nice example can be found in a verse from “The Beginning” by Erich Mühsam.
If you want freedom, do not be a servant
The anapost is the inversion of the dactyl in relation to the measure. The footer is composed of two unstressed syllables and one syllable. And also the A na päst is self-evident and can be represented as x x, x
But also in our linguistic usage we find numerous words, which form an independent anapass. Just as, for example, Harom, Sin never, or even E le fant and Di rction
Jambus, Trochaeus, Daktylus, and Anapaast form the four basic metrics in lyric poetry, and we meet quite frequently. In music we find other examples of ups and downs. However, for the metrical division in the measuring range, it remains with these shoulders.