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Unstressed Enjambements

The enjambement is an interlaced skip in which a sentence or unit of meaning extends beyond the end of a verse to the following verse. It is the opposite of the so-called 'line-sentence', in which each line contains a full sentence as a syntactic unit. The enjambement, on the other hand, is a deviation that has been known since Pindar's poetry at the latest: Norbert von Hellingrath saw the enjambement dominating the poems of Pindar and Hölderlin, but also the Odes of Horace and Klopstock.


In addition, a distinction must be made between soft or smooth and hard or strong enjambements: The first set the interlace according to the syntagmatic units of the language, for example between nominal and verbal phrase. Smooth enjambements mimic the natural pauses in speech of the ordinary, i.e. non-verified, language. A hard enjambement, on the other hand, also separates these syntagmatic units, for example by interlacing the article with the noun or transitive verb with the accusative. If the enjambement even separates individual words, this is called morphological enjambement. In the 18th century, smooth enjambements can be found especially in Klopstock, Lessing, Wieland and Voß, also Goethe prefers the smooth enjambement respecting the syntagmatic units, only occasionally he also used the hard, e.g. in the hymn Wandrers Sturmlied. Hölderlin, on the other hand, preferred the strong enjambement in his hymns.


In the 20th century, enjambements are characteristic of Rilke's poetry, for example, in Rilke's 'Roman Fountain' the enjambements imitate from verse to verse the flow of water from one bowl to the next. Paul Celan, inspired by Hölderlin and Rilke, also preferred hard enjambements, sometimes also morphological enjambements, for example in the poem Die Silbe Schmerz. In Jürgen Beckers poem Winterbild 45 the enjambement on the verbal level also illustrates the optical breaks that result from the technique of snap-shots. Ulrike Draesner also replaces syntax, punctuation and rhyme in her lyrics with hard enjambements, which, however, reinforced by elliptical forms. The enjambement in the poetry of Nico Bleutge or Jan Wagner, on the other hand, appears somewhat smoother.