Metre, rhythm and emotion in poetry. A cognitive approach

Reuven Tsur


This essay integrates what I have written on the contribution of meter and rhythm to emotional qualities in poetry, opposing them to emotional contents. I distinguish between “meaning-oriented” approaches and “perceived effects” approaches, adopting the latter; and adopt a qualitative (rather than quantitative) method of research. Providing a simplified list of structural elements of emotion, I explore structural resemblances between rhythmic patterns and emotions. I investigate such issues as convergent and divergent poetic styles, convergent and divergent delivery styles, hypnotic poetry, the contribution of meter and rhythm to a “dignified quality”; and the rhythmic performance and emotional effect of stress maxima in weak positions. Finally, I locate my work between impressionist criticism on the one hand, and meaning-oriented criticism on the other.


poetic rhythm; emotional qualities; “meaning-oriented” criticism; “perceived-effects” criticism; qualitative approach; quantitative approach; cognitive poetics

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ISSN 2346-6901 (print)
ISSN 2346-691X (online)