Correlative verse

Correlative verse is a literary device used in poetry around the world; it is characterized by the matching of items in two different pluralities. An example is found in an epigram from the Greek Anthology: "You [wine, are] boldness, youth, strength, wealth, country [first plurality] / to the shy, the old, the weak, the poor, the foreigner (second plurality]".[1] Another example is found in a couplet by 16th-century poet George Peele: "Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen; / Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green".[2]

Characteristically notorious for correlative verse is Old Norse poetry, which proffers such cryptic examples as Þórðr Særeksson's:[3]

Varð sjálf sonar— Became herself of her son—

nama snotr una— Did not come to love—

Kjalarr of tamði— Kjallarr (Óðinn) tamed—

kváðut Hamði— It is said that Hamðir did not—

—Goðrún bani —Guðrún the slayer

—goðbrúðr Vani —the bride of the gods the Vanr

—heldr vel mara —rather well horses

—hörleik spara. —bow-warfare hold back.

where the elemental pattern is ABCDABCD, i.e. "Varð sjálf sonar...Goðrún bani" (Became herself of her son Guðrún the slayer), etc.

See also


  1. Mignani, Rigo (1965). "Correlative verse". In Alex Preminger (ed.). Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Frank J. Warnke, O. B. Hardison, Jr. Princeton UP. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-691-01308-4.
  2. Cuddon, J. A.; Preston, C. E. (1999). "Correlative verse". The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (4 ed.). London: Penguin. pp. 181–82. ISBN 9780140513639. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. Faulkes, Anthony (1997). Poetical Inspiration in Old Norse and Old English Poetry. London. p. 29.

Further reading

  • Fucilla, Joseph G. (1956). "A Rhetorical Pattern in Renaissance and Baroque Poetry". Studies in the Renaissance. 3: 23–48. doi:10.2307/2857099. JSTOR 2857099.