Knittelvers (also Knüttelvers or Knittel) is a kind of Germanic verse meter which originated in Germany during the Middle Ages. In Knittelvers, consecutive lines rhyme pairwise (AABB) and each line has four stresses.[1] "Strict" Knittelvers has eight or nine syllables on each line, whereas "free" Knittelvers can use more or fewer. It may be considered a form of doggerel and is sometimes called "Knüttelvers" (lit.cudgel verse) because of its rhythm.[2] In German, this form of poetry was popular during the 15th and 16th centuries but rejected in the 17th before being brought back into use by Johann Christoph Gottsched in the 18th century.[2][3]

Examples of free Knittelvers in German include Fastnachtspiele (Shrovetide plays) written in the 15th century by Hans Folz and Hans Rosenplüt, and post-revival work by Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. Writers of strict Knittelvers include Hans Sachs. Modern Knittelvers is typically satirical, parodic or light poetry, i.e. humorous. It can be used in children's verse.[2]

In Swedish, Knittelvers is used in the Eufemiavisorna and in Erikskrönikan, as in the following example:

Here, the introductory line lies outside the couplet rhyme scheme, which becomes ABBCC instead of AABBCC.


  1. Baldrick, Chris (2008). "Knittelvers". The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 180. ISBN 9780199208272.
  2. Chisholm, David H.; Bowers, Katherine (2012). "Knittelvers". The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (4th ed.). Princeton University Press. pp. 770–771. ISBN 978-0691133348.
  3. Cuddon, J. A. (2012). "Knittelvers". A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Revised by M. A. R. Habib (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-32600-8.

Further reading

 Swedish Wikisource has original text related to this article: Erikskrönikan

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