Everyone, hello.

My question has to do with reversing the order of words, in a sentence written in German. Namely here, the adjective and noun to which it refers.

The purpose being poetic beauty. I believe the technique itself is sometimes referred to as poetic license. I found an eloquent article on this forum which validates that technique for the English language. I have not found a post about the German language.

Der Himmel blau...

The full sentence raised my eyebrow (only one) more than once:

"Der Himmel blau und der Frühling sind hier"

Then i was suggested:

"Der Himmel blau und der Frühling ist hier"

And as of late, the position of blau is under scrutiny. And has been qualified as incorrect.

This is a sentence in a Kinderlied so the question mark is sensitive.

I know this technique (reversing the position of the adjective and noun to achieve a poetic effect) is common in English, or French. Particularly, it seems, in the context of a description.

As the forth mentioned song falls into a project which purpose is to awaken the curiosity (for?) and love of Music, you bet I hold (on?)to a poetic license dearly.

What more efficient means to broaden the minds of our followers, than to convey not only the joy of music, but pass on fully certified licences to poetize.

But, digress I?

Yours truly, Virgil H Segal

  • 6
    Welcome to GLSE! I'm struggling to find an actual question in this post?
    – tofro
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 9:38
  • 3
    Are you referring to an existing song or are you trying to create the lyrics for a song? You should show a bit more of the context. Is your question is whether to use "... ist hier" or "... sind hier"? This might also be covered by poetic license, even if "... sind hier" would be grammatically correct.
    – Bodo
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 12:46
  • 1
    In general, don't expect grammar to be followed too scrupulously in poetry. There may be reasons of meter and getting stress in the right spot to put words in an 'unusual' order. It's possible for Himmel to come before blau: Das Ei des Rotkehlchens ist himmelblau. That's not what is meant here though judging by the context.
    – RDBury
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 12:49
  • This post has one poetic example in German. Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 9:34
  • @Wolf the poetic example I meant was - O Täler weit, o Höhen! (Eichendorff) which is given as an example from a grammar book on the usage of uninflected adjectives after a noun. Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


Common in Poetry

It's not uncommon to switch positions between noun and adjective attribute in poems and (folk) songs even in German. It's most likely a matter of rhythm, emphasis and associative framing.[1]

Here is another example:

Bluemlein blau! Bluemlein blau!
Verdorre nicht! Verdorre nicht!
Voeglein suess, Voeglein suess,
Du singst auf gruener Heide.

extracted from Gustav Mahler: Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, which itself goes back to the folk song Ach Blümlein blau

  • Blümlein blau == blaues Blümlein
  • Vöglein süß == süßes Vöglein

Another example from Brothers Grimm fairy tale König Drosselbart:

Ich arme Jungfer zart, ach, hätt ich genommen den König Drosselbart!

Or the probably most prominent one, Heidenröslein:

Röslein, Röslein, Röslein rot,
Röslein auf der Heiden.

Plural form

So the plural form in the original question is correct, since both arrived:

  • the spring
  • the blue sky

Der Himmel blau und der Frühling sind hier. == Der blaue Himmel und der Frühling sind hier.

Refinement and Generalization

What examples I had tracked down in my own memory were consistently monosyllabic. So I wondered if there was more to it than the noun and adjective attribute switching positions.

So I did some web searches and found that

  1. suffixed ajective attributes are uninflected
  2. it's not restricted to poetry

See for example the section Adjektivattribute postnominal in one of my search hits, which will probably inspire and enable you more precise research.

[1] The adjective+noun connection in everyday language has a certain tendency to form stereotypes. The switch of position can help to break these up.

Vorschnell nehmen Adjektive die Substantive in Beschlag und schränken so bei der Gedichtlektüre den Raum für Assoziationen ein. Setzen Sie daher die „anhänglichen“ Eigenschaftswörter bewusst und vor allem gegenläufig zu stereotypen Verbindungen (wie blauer Himmel, schwarze Nacht et cetera). Oft hilft es, Adjektive hinter ihr Bezugswort zu stellen. Dadurch sind sie ebenfalls isoliert und aus der Verklammerung gelöst.

(Source: Wörter als lyrischer Werkstoff | Unternehmen Lyrik Blog)


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