Metre, rhythm and emotion in poetry. A cognitive approach

  • Reuven Tsur Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978
Keywords: poetic rhythm, emotional qualities, “meaning-oriented” criticism, “perceived-effects” criticism, qualitative approach, quantitative approach, cognitive poetics


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.

NOTE. The pdf version of this paper contains sound files, which may not work if you open the pdf in the browser. If this is the case, please download the pdf and open it from your computer.