What is the feminine end of poetry


The cadence describes the end of a verse within a poem. The cadence can influence the rhythm and the effect of a work, as well as significantly influence our reading. We basically differentiate between three different cadences: the male, female and pass Cadence.

A cadence tells you how many syllables there are after the last stressed syllable in a verse. The mistake is often made of simply checking whether the last syllable in a verse is accented or unstressed in order to distinguish between male and female cadence. However, this method is not entirely accurate and can cause a lot of confusion.

Overview of the cadences
  • male cadence(blunt cadence): This means that a verse is on a stressed Syllable ends.
  • female cadence: This form means that the verse is based on a unstressed Syllable ends.
  • rich cadence: In this case the verse ends on several unstressed Syllables. There is a risk of confusion with the previous cadence.

  • Important: The distinction between the latter variants often harbors numerous errors. Be sure to read the following section in order to be able to determine the whole thing accurately.

Note: The word cadence is derived from the Latin “cadere”, which roughly means “to fall” or “to fall”. It therefore describes how a verse “falls away”, that is, ends.

Recognize the cadence

To understand that, let's take a look at an example from poetry and look at the last stressed syllable to determine the cadence. "On the gray beach, on the gray sea" by Theodor Storm should be taken as an example.

Gray beach, gray sea
And on the other side lies the city;

The first two lines are iambic verses (→ Jambus), which we recognize from the fact that unstressed and stressed syllables always alternate. The last stressed syllable is the noun in the first versesea and in the second the word city. After that there are no more syllables, so the cadence is male.

  • male cadence: There is no more syllable after the last stressed syllable in a verse. In other words, the verse ends on a stressed syllable.

Now to clarify the female cadence, we can take a look at a verse from Schiller's famous “Ode to Joy”. Because right at the beginning it says:

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods

The meter of this line of verse is clearly Trochaic (→ Trochäus). We recognize this by the fact that stressed and unstressed syllables alternate. So the whole thing is kind of a counterpart to the above structure in Storm's poem.

Let's look now, which is the last stressed syllable in the line, it is noticeable that it is fun and then comes the syllable k, which, however, remains unstressed. This means that after the last stressed syllable another follows and the cadence behaves differently compared to the previous excerpt.

  • female cadence: After the last stressed syllable in a verse follows a unstressed syllable. In other words, the verse ends on a(!) unstressed Syllable.

The problem now is that one can memorize the cadences very quickly on the basis of these observations and then do not recognize the last type: the rich cadence.

The rich cadence can go under very quickly if we only look for unstressed and accentuated mailings. It is therefore important that it is not just about the last syllable, but about how many syllables follow the last stress.

To make this clear, let's just look at a small, fictitious two-line line that illustrates the special form of the cadence quite well.

I go with
Stick and stick

These two verses follow the pattern of the dactylSo the first syllable that is stressed is followed by two unstressed ones. This means that the last stressed syllable in the first line of verse is the word I is and in the second line of verse the word floor. Follow in both cases two more unstressed syllables.

  • rich cadence: The last stressed syllable in a verse is followed by several unstressed syllables. In other words, the verse also ends in one unstressed syllable, but in contrast to the female cadenza, they are several(!)that form the conclusion.

Function and effect of the cadence

Of course, such cadences also have a function at the end of a verse, and not just to influence the rhythm within a poem. Rather, the cadence can influence our reading, since it determines our reading for the line break.

Let's take a look at that Evening song by Matthias Claudius. The poem should be familiar to most people from childhood.

The moon has risen,
The gold stars
In the sky bright and clear;
The forest stands black and silent,
The white fog is wonderful.

This first stanza of the poem has an iambic meter throughout (three-part iambus in each line) and has changing cadences. So we find female cadences in lines 1, 2, 4 and 5 and male cadences in lines 3 and 6. Let us now look at the function of the whole.

The work is structured according to the iambic meter. But if you look closely you will see that for the sake of completeness in verses 1, 2, 4 and 5 the last syllable is missing.

If we express ourselves once "unscientific", we could say that it is 3 1/2 iambi. (Correctly, we should have the whole thing as catalectic verse denote, which means that the last foot of the verse is “uncomplete” → verse).

The effect, however, is that while reading we fall into a kind of singsong, which is typical for many nursery rhymes or counting rhymes (→ nursery rhymes). This up and down is strongly supported by the positioning of the male and female cadences.

Male cadences usually provoke a longer pause at the line break. in the Evening song So when changing from line 3 to 4. In contrast, the pause is usually shortened when a female cadence the line ended. This pause becomes particularly clear when we speak (sing) the poem loudly and clearly.

Claudius uses this effect of the cadences insofar as he has placed the male cadences at the end of sections of meaning within the stanza. Thereby the elements from verses 1, 2 and 3 form a unit and verses 4, 5 and 6 likewise. This also makes sense in terms of content.