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Permutation means the conversion or exchange of words or parts of sentences or a progressive combination and rearrangement of linguistic-semantic elements of a poem. The principle has become known in particular through concrete poetry: in his essay "vom vers zur konstellation" Eugen Gomringer explained this using the example of his poem 'avenidas':  "avenidas / avenidas y flores // flores / flores y mujeres // avenidas / avenidas y mujeres // avenidas y flores y mujeres y / un admirador".In this example, the principles of reduction and combination come before the actual permutation: First, Gomringer reduces the vocabulary -'avenidas' consists of only six different words - and the syntax of the poem, insofar as the words are only linked by 'y' (= and). At the same time, the words in each line are combined differently than in the previous one, which in turn constitutes the permutation: the repeated words always have a different position in the poem.

Other examples of this technique, according to Ulrich Bernd, are anagramatics, i.e. the "conversion of letters or Syllables of a word, a name, a group of words or a verse to a new "meaningful sound sequence", as it occurs not only in Eugen Gomringer but also in Michael Lentz's poetry; the simultaneous poems by Gerhard Rühm; as well as the palindrome technique, which alongside the ideogram, the constellation, the typogram and the pictogram is one of the basic forms of concrete poetry, and which plays a central role in Oskar Pastior's work in particular: In his collection of poems entitled "Kopfnuß - Januskopf" (headbutt - Janus face) Pastior mainly uses texts of words and syllable palindrome. Other examples are the so-called Proteus verses, in which words can serially swap places in the verse, thus creating shifts in meaning, or the metabolic poems from Pastior's volume of poems Eine kleine Kunstmaschine (A small artificial machine).


Ernst, Ulrich: Permutation als Prinzip in der Lyrik. In: Poetica 24 (1992), S. 225–269.