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.