This information was first prepared, during the school year 1973 by Harold G. Jones and Vern G. Williamsen, for use in teaching a survey of Spanish Literature. After being used for several years in this way, the materials was prepared electronically in 1984 for other academic uses.
A. SCANSION To scan a verse (i.e. to count its metrical syllables), three things must be considered: (1) the final word of the verse, (2) syneresis and synaloepha, and (3) hiatus and dieresis. 1. The final word of the verse determines whether the verse is "verso agudo", "verso llano", or "verso esdrújulo". a. An "agudo" verse ends with an "agudo" word or oxytone (i.e. one which is accentuated on its final syllable. This syllable counts for two syllables. "A/sí,/ con/ tal/ en/ten/der" 7+1=8 syllables (Jorge Manrique) b. A "llano" verse ends with a "llano" word or paroxytone (i.e. one which is accentuated on its penultimate or "next-to-last syllable"). Syllables are neither added nor subtracted from the "llano" verse. "to/dos/ sen/ti/dos/ hu/ma/nos" 8 syllables (Jorge Manrique) c. An "esdrújulo" verse ends with an "esdrújulo" word or proparoxytone (i.e. one which is accentuated on its antepenultimate syllable). On counting its syllables, the last word loses a syllable. "A/mor,/ tus/ fuer/zas/ rí/gi/das" 8-1=7 syllables (Lope de Vega) 2. Syneresis and synaloepha a. Synaloepha is the union of two or more contiguous vowels (and vowel sounds) between two (sometimes three) words. Synaloepha is normal and usual in Spanish verse. "En/ tan/to, /que en/ es/te/ tiem/po a/di/vi/no" 11 syllables (Garcilaso de la Vega) b. Syneresis is the union of two vowels in the same words which are normally pronounced as two syllables. Cojear (co/je/ar), for example, is considered to be two syllables rather than three when syneresis applies: "Pur/pú/reas/ ro/sas/ so/bre/ Ga/la/te/a" 11 syllables (Luis de Góngora) 3. Hiatus and dieresis a. Hiatus and dieresis are the opposites, respec- tively, of synaloepha and syneresis. Hiatus is the separation of contiguous vowels of different words. "Fa/ce/ per/der/ la/ vista//e// a/cor/tar/ la/ vi/da" 14 syllables (Juan Ruiz) b. Dieresis is the separation of vowels within a single word, i.e. dividing a diphthong into two syllables: (rue/da, rü/e/da). Dieresis is usually signalled with two dots placed above the weaker vowel of the affected diphthong. "¡Oh,/ be/lla/ Ga/la/te/a,/ más/ sü/a/ve..." 11 syllables (Luis de Góngora) In order to scan the number of syllables in a verse-form used in a particular poem, a verse should be sought in which synaloepha and syneresis, hiatus and dieresis cannot take place. Adjust the number of syllables by considering whether the verse is "agudo" (add one syllable), "llano" (neither add nor sub- tract), or "esdrújulo" (subtract one syllable). When the syllable-count of this verse has been determined, the other verses can be scanned to yield the same number of syllables, using synaloepha, syneresis, hiatus, and dieresis when necessary to yield the right number. If, after making use of these poetic licenses , correct syllable-count is still not achieved, the verse is "irregular" or "defective" (depending on whether the irregularity is or is not intentional). For example: No a las palomas concedió Cupido juntar de los dos picos los rubíes, cuando al clavel el joven atrevido las dos hojas le chupa carmesíes. Cuantas produce Pafo, engendre Gnido negras violas, blancos alhelíes llueven sobre el que amor quiere que sea tálamo de Acis ya y de Galatea. (Luis de Góngora) In this excerpt only one verse can be scanned where synaloe- pha, etc., cannot be applied: juntar de los dos picos los rubíes, The syllabic count of this "llano" verse is 11 syllables (or "verso endecasílabo"). Thus all the others are likely to have the same count and they do, when the various techniques are applied. Note, for example, the synaloepha in the first verse: No a/ las/ pa/lo/mas/ con/ce/dió/ Cu/pi/do. Note also the dieresis in the sixth verse: ne/gras/ vï/o/las/ blan/cos/ al/he/lí/es In this selections there are no examples of hiatus or syneresis. B. VERSE NOMENCLATURE Spanish names of verses are determined by the number of syllables they contain. The most commonly used names are: 7 syllable verses heptasílabo heptasyllable 8 syllable verses octosílabo octosyllable 11 syllable verses endecasílabo hendecasyllable 14 syllable verses alejandrino Alexandrine Verses of 4, 6, and 8 syllables are classified as "versos de arte menor". Verses of 7, 11, and 14 syllables are classified as "versos de arte mayor". C. RHYTHM 1. Accent: When a verse is pronounced, accents occur at certain regular intervals; they determine the rhythm of the poem. All verses have a required rhythmic accent on the penultimate syllable; verses of five or more syllables have one or more auxiliary accents. Below are listed only those which occur most often in our readings. Heptasílabo: has an accent on the sixth syllable and at least one more on any syllable but the fifth one. (This rule may be broken, but only for poetic reasons) ¡Ay, riguroso estado, ausencia fementida, que dividiendo el alma, puedes dejar la vida! (Lope de Vega) Octasílabo: has an accent on the seventh syllable and at least one more on any syllable but the sixth one. Servía en Orán al Rey un español con dos lanzas, y con el alma y la vida a una gallarda africana. (Luis de Góngora) Endecasílabo: apart from the obligatory accent on the tenth syllable, various distributions are possible: 1,4,7; 2,6; 1,6; 4,6; 4,8; 4,6,8. Note: accents may generally not occur on syllables 5 and 9. El dulce lamentar de dos pastores, Salicio juntamente y Nemoroso, he de contar, sus quejas imitando; (Garcilaso de la Vega) Alejandrino: verse of 14 syllables divided into two hemistichs of 7 syllables each. Each hemistich (hemistiquio) follows the rule for heptasílabos. "Señora", diz la vieja, "yo le veo a menudo; el cuerpo tiene alto, piernas largas, membrudo la cabeza no chica, velloso, pescozudo, el cuello no muy alto, pelinegro, orejudo". (Juan Ruiz) 2. Pause and Cesura. To read poetry: pauses are required at the end of strophes, the end of verses where there is a period, and when other punctuation signs (comma, semicolon, etc.) indicate its use. In long verses there may be a pause between two hemistichs (which are not always divided in the middle of the verse). A pause does not admit synaloepha. The caesura is a brief pause which allows synaloepha. Sometimes caesura can be employed even when a pause is indicated in order to regularize meter. When semantics or graphics do not indicate a pause at the end of the line, the reader continues without pause to the next verse. This is called enjambment or "encabalgamiento". Mira que la dolencia de amor, que no se cura sino con la presencia y la figura. (San Juan de la Cruz) These verses are read: "Mira que la dolencia de amor (pause) que no se cura (pause) sino con la presencia y la figura (pause)" D. RHYME 1. Rhyme is of two types in Spanish: Assonance and consonance. a. "Consonance" (consonancia): the last accented vowel of the verse and all vowels and consonants that may follow it are the same in all words rhymed. Si de mi baja lira tanto pudiese el son, que un momento aplicase la ira del animoso viento, y la furia del mar y el movimiento. (Garcilaso de la Vega) Here lines 1 and 3 are consonantally rhymed, as are lines 2, 4, and 5. Note the use of capital letters to designate the longer verses and lower case letters for the shorter verses. The stanza would be plotted as aBacC. b. "Assonance (asonancia): the last accented vowel of the verse, and all following vowels are the same in all the words rhymed. (The lesser-accented vowel of a dipthong is not taken into account; thus, "patr(i)a rhymes with ja(u)la, as well as with mata, canta, and palma. ¿Quién hubiera tal ventura sobre las aguas del mar como hubo el infante Arnaldos la mañana de San Juan? (Anonymous) Verses 2 and 4 have assonant rhyme. 2. Interior rhyme (rima interior): the use of a word in the interior of a verse that rhymes with the final word of the previous verse. Este nuestro Severo pudo tanto con el suave canto y dulce lira, que, revueltos en ira y torbellino, en medio del camino se pararon... (Garcilaso de la Vega) 3. Feminine rhyme ("rima femenina"): that found in "versos llanos". 4. Masculine rhyme ("rima masculina"): that found in "versos agudos". 5. Blank verse ("versos blancos o sueltos"): metrical verses without rhyme, and sometimes without strophes. ¿Vistes alguna vez en la campaña ejército español, fiero y lozano, cuando la noche con sus alas negras esparce por el aire tenebroso silencio, sueño, miedo y sobresalto? (Francisco de Aldana) 6. Free verse ("versos libres"): they neither rhyme nor follow metrical rules (accents, number of syllables); they are guided only by cadence. Ametric (non-metric) verse. Gentes de las esquinas de pueblos y naciones que no están en la mapa comentaban. Ese hombre está muerto y no lo sabe. Quiere asaltar la banca, robar nubes, estrellas, cometas de oro, comprar lo más difícil: el cielo. Y ese hombre está muerto. (Rafael Alberti) E. THE STROPHIC FORMS 1. Spanish (octosyllabic forms) Romance: ballad line; laisses of undetermined length in which the even-numbered verses rhyme in assonance. Generally narrative in tone. Redondillas: stanzas of four lines, rhyming in consonance in the pattern abba. Quintillas: stanzas of five lines, rhyming in consonance in different patterns as follows: (1) ababa; (2) abbab (3) abaab (4) aabab and (5) aabba. Quintillas may occur in copla real when two types of stanzas are used in repeated fashion. Most generally types 1 and 5. Décima: stanzas of ten lines, rhyming in consonance, with an almost obligatory stop after the fourth verse. abba:ac,cddc. Notice that this looks like two quintillas except that the pattern for the first five lines is not one of the possible forms. It is more like two redondillas connected by two additional verses rhyming with the exterior verses of each. 2. Italianate lines (hendecasyllables) Versos sueltos: no rhyme pattern except that there may be an occasional couplet rhyming in consonance. Tercetos: Three line stanzas rhyming in consonance (ABA BCB CDC DED etc., or AAX BBX CCX etc., or AXA BXB CXC DXD, etc.) The last four lines always rhyme YZYZ. Used as letters (epistolary form) or in elegies. Pareados: Couplets, rhyming in consonance (AA BB CC DD etc.) Octava Real: Stanzas of eight hendecasyllables, rhyming ABABABCC. Normal for epic poetry. Sonnet (soneto): Fourteen line stanza composed of two cuartetos (quartets) ABBA ABBA, plus two tercetos (tiercets) CDE CDE, or CDC DCD, etc. There may occasionally occur a seventeen line form in which one of the final three lines is a shortened verse. 3. Italianate lines (Mixed heptasyllables and hendecasyl- lables) Silva: unlimited number of 7 and 11 syllable lines with varying rhyme schemes, but always in consonance. There are four types: (1) aAbBcCdDeE...; (2) aABbcC... (not all are couplets and the 7 and 11 syllable verses are irregularly spaced); (3) All 11 syllable lines (differs from pareados in that not all of the lines are rhymed even though more than 50% are); (4) aABBccdDEd... (all are couplets but the line length is irregularly 7 and 11 syllables). Canción: Seven and eleven syllable lines mixed in a set pattern of line length and rhyme scheme repeated for a number of stanzas. Stanzas may have from 9 to 23 verses. Most commonly used is a thirteen line stanza. Generally stanzas begin with the pattern AbCAbCc.... The sixth verse is always 11 and the seventh verse always 7 syllables. The last verse of each stanza is always an hendecasyllable. This is the so-called Petrarchan canción. Liras: A special form of canción. Consonant rhyme for five lines (the so-called Lira de Fray Luis de León) or six lines. aBabB or aBaBcC, abbacC, abABcC, etc. The last line must always be hendecasyllabic. 4. Miscellaneous Endechas: Stanzas of 6 or 7 syllable verses that rhyme in assonance. Seguidillas: mixture of 7 and 5 syllable lines, assonant rhyme. Letrilla: a Spanish verse (octosyllabic) form with a repeated estribillo. Villancico: Octosyllabic verse form with estribillo, usually on religious theme. Madrigal: A short poem on a light topic, that develops a single conceit, usually using mixed 7 and 11 syllable verses. Pie Quebrado: Octosyllabic verses in which one or more lines of each stanza is a verso quebrado, that is, a verse that has been shortened, generally to four syllables. The stanzas typically repeat the same pattern of rhyme and verse length.
Texto electrónico por Vern G. Williamsen
y J T Abraham
Formateo adicional por Matthew D. Stroud
Most recent update: 10 Jun 2002