"Golden Section" and the Metaphysics of Pushkin's Verse
Poetry is, in essence, the articulated expression of
This study is an attempt to understand
the processes of perception of a poetic text, including the role of rhythm as a
portent of emotional and semantic modulation in speech. The point of departure
of this study harks back to S.M. Bondi, who wrote: "The artist (musician,
poet, actor) arrests our attention by means of rhythm, forcing our hearts to beat
faster or more slowly, to breathe more evenly or to catch our breath, to feel
the flow of time with our whole bodies…When we are saturated by the effects of
rhythm, we achieve a particular state of consciousness in which our bodies resonate
to it, and we become extraordinarily alert and responsive to all the
details of the rhythmically organized process affecting us in this way."
would like to explore the question of how the reader perceives particular
elements of this process—elements such as harmony, expression, and heightened
emotion. More specifically, I will be asking how rhythm, which "directly
involves the reader in the poetic text, and I will try to identify the ways in
which rhythm contributes to this involvement. These sensations are,
indeed, always spontaneous and unmediated. They arise during the actual
utterance of the text and shape the artistic image of the content, in constant
interaction with the consciousness and the subconscious (with a slight temporal
delay in the shaping of that image). In accordance with Belyj's views on the
question of the unity of the rhythm and content of verse, and conceiving of the
role of rhythm as a "particularly artistic rhythmic responsiveness,"
I intend to address another crucial question, heretofore unanswered, in the
study of prosody. Тhis is the question of whether there are ways of
revealing and formally establishing this particular rhythmic responsiveness or
agitation, and if so, exploring the degree to which it corresponds to the
emotional and thematic aspects of concrete excerpts of a poetic text.
Such issues are among the most complex and delicate in humanistic scholarship,
and the sophistication of the methods used to examine them, and, in the final
analysis, the actual approach to the problem of correspondence between the forms
of the poetic text and its esthetic content, leaves much to be desired.
Prosody, Mathematics, and the
necessity of resorting to the term "subjective time" becomes more intelligible
if one recalls a fact that has been established in experimental psychology,
that fact being that "for a person experiencing positive emotions, the
subjective flow of time speeds up; in the presence of negative emotional
experiences, a subjective retardation of time may be observed."
The words of Stefan Zweig are particularly apt in this regard: "In the life of
a human being, external and internal time coincide only partially; only the
fullness of experience may serve as the measure of the soul; the soul counts
the internal passage of hours in its own way—not as the indifferent calendar
order to answer these questions, I will begin by examining the notions of
"subjective time" and the "rhythm" of verse, as well as the applicability of
well-known prosodic concepts to the questions I have articulated. I wish to
point out that due to their basic premises, neither the methodology of
structural prosody, nor the framework of that approach that has come to be
known most widely as "meter and meaning," promise the scholar the slightest
chance of success in his endeavors.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that we are concerned here with artistic
time and space, that is, with that which arises in the reader not during
the process of perception of objective reality (nature, one's external environment,
or other people), but during the process of undergoing the actual effects
produced by the reading of literary (esthetically significant) texts.
essence of the problem consists in the fact that the study of the form and
content of verse is much more complex, not so much due to the absence of
other—not static, but dynamic—procedures for the analysis of rhythm in verse,
but because the rhythm of Russian verse as a division of contemporary prosody
rests on the notion of rhythm as alternation of stressed and unstressed
syllables (elements of the motion of articulatory force with contrasting
Indeed, any movement (from the periodic, and even strictly ordered, to
the chaotic) always involves an alternation of contrasting states of a
certain object. Rhythm, however, is something different, though it involves the
same alternating and contrasting states.
order to create the conditions for studying such elusive and equivocal material
as the experiential and sensory aspects of the poetic text, one must
acknowledge, first, that rhythm is a relationship,
and not an alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables (in Russian
verse), and, second, one must abandon the flawed theory that rhythm may be
posited as some sort of average in a predictable (according to the statistical
mean) poetic line. This is tantamount to measuring the average temperature of
all the patients in a hospital, and has nothing to do with the actual
perception of a poetic text.
my work, I assume the rhythm of verse to mean the measure of the
harmonious ordering of movement of poetic thought, determined by the mutual
relationship of stressed and unstressed syllables in a Russian poetic text.
This mutual relationship is not absolute, but relative; it is measured as the deviation
of the real rhythm from the harmonic rhythm.
The harmonic rhythm, in its turn, is defined as the proportion of the "golden
section" at the key (rhymed) points in a verse. The dynamic principle of the
"golden section" enables one to unite three characteristics of a poetic
text—rhythm, rhyme, and stanzaic structure—under a single criterion. Note that
none of the prominent scholarly methods for studying poetic texts is able to
achieve this. Moreover, the importance of a systematic approach in
analyzing the architectonics of the poetic text was stressed by
V.M Zhirmunsky more than 80 years ago, when he cited the words of Hugo,
saying "rhyme is the measure of verse that has become perceptible to the
ear," as well as the words of B. de Fouquier: "As soon as we cease to perceive rhyme,
rhythm is immediately disrupted."
more general aspect of the problem concerns the question of the use in literary
scholarship of mathematical methods, and even the expediency of such practices.
On the one hand, classical literary scholarship avoids mathematical research as
applied to the analysis of prosody, and there are grounds for avoiding it. One
of the primary reasons for this is that the method that has reigned in prosody
for nearly one hundred years is the statistical method, and even probability
theory—that "mistaken" method (S. M. Bondi) that militates against even the
hope of studying the artistic expressiveness of poetic texts. On the other
hand, the methods based on "divine" proportions of rhythm (the "golden
section"), were never applied in prosody until the very end of the 20th
century. For this reason, the deeply rooted skepticism of literary scholars was
perfectly logical and understandable. In order to explain why I hold fast to
another point of view, it is sufficient to recall the words of two great
thinkers. The first is Kant, who wrote: "In every science, there is as much
truth as there is mathematics." The second is Stendhal: "Of all the sciences, I
love mathematics most, as it admits of absolutely no hypocrisy."
Poetic Material and Prosodic
illustrate my claims I have chosen two excerpts from Pushkin's novel in verse, Eugene
Onegin. In Pushkin's work, "road" verses are most immediately represented
in "Excerpts from ‘Onegin's Journey'," but they are not confined to these
passages. I was drawn to two shorter, but no less compelling, parts of the
work: stanzas from the third and fifth chapters, in which Tatiana "flees." In
the first example, Tatiana flees while "wide-awake" from the inexorable
approach of the meeting with Onegin (which we are led to understand takes place
in the fourth chapter). Then, in the fifth chapter, Tatiana flees in her
"dream" from the "unbearable" bear (cf. Table). These very closely related motifs
of "flight" have, in both cases, the "semantic aureole" (borrowing the
terminology of M.L. Gasparov) of the road.
it is not the semantic aureole in and of itself that interests me, that
"aggregate of all the semantic nuances of a given example",
but the particular and concrete "expressive aura" (V.V. Vinogradov's term).
To be even more specific, what interests me is the rhythmic and expressive aura
that emerges in reading the disparate passages of Eugene Onegin that
express with the greatest emotional and semantic urgency the actions of the
novel's heroine. There is no doubt that in the two passages I have cited, which
occur in close proximity in the narrative, the emotional states of Tatiana are
distinctly different. In the third chapter, her emotional state could be
described as confusion, alarm (albeit a romantically colored alarm), while in
the episode from Tatiana's "dream," she is in a state of deep-seated fear or
dread, which turns into resigned hopelessness.
is important here to recall the concept of associative semantic fields, well
known in linguistics. The associative field for "rhythm" is formed from the
following attributes or modifiers: "precise, ragged, strict, slow, quick,
headlong or impetuous, mad" («четкий, рваный, жесткий, медленный, быстрый, стремительный, бешенный»), and others. For "breathing" or
"breath" the field is quite different: "fresh, heavy, even, frequent, free,
hot, uneven, intermittent, timid, labored, calm, quickened, difficult" («свежее, тяжелое, ровное, частое, свободное, горячее, неровное, прерывистое, робкое, сдавленное, спокойное, учащенное, трудное»), and others.
The attempt to align such associative fields with the possibilities of the
central device of the Structuralists, i.e. with the "rhythmic profiles" of
verse, is doomed to failure. The axiomatic position of the structuralist
critics, who claim that an "organic connection between the rhythm and the theme
is usually absent,"
is logically presupposed by the very means of analysis of rhythm in
verse, which only allows for establishing "rhythmic profiles," and has its
origins in the notion of the "early" Belyj that "rhythm is symmetry in
deviation from meter."
S.M. Bondi considered this theory to be "mistaken.".
According to M.L. Gasparov, Bondi's "attitude toward these calculations
and graphs was one of restrained hostility: why spend so much time counting,
when it is audible without it?"
will begin my examination of the fundamental traits of poetic material by
looking at a number of important and well-known compositional and architectonic
features of the two episodes in Pushkin's novel.
the passages presenting Tatiana's "flight" to the reader are distributed
differently in their respective chapters. The "flight wide-awake" is found at
the very end of the third chapter (stanza XXXVIII), and the "dream flight" is
presented in the first third of the fifth chapter (stanzas XIII and XIV).
in both passages Tatiana's "flight" ends in the same way: the heroine falls.
In the first case, she falls on a bench, and in the second, in the snow. In the
first case, however, both the nature of the flight, and the rhythmic, and
overall stylistic, means that Pushkin employs are distinct from those he uses
in the fifth chapter.
contrast to the "dream flight," during the "flight wide-awake" everything is
more emotionally urgent and dynamic, and one can speak of headlong, rushing
movement. When she is awake, the heroine not only runs, she "flies, flies…" (летит, летит…») (line 8a). Toward the end of
the episode this impression is amplified still more by the use of the gerundial
form "…flying toward the stream" («…летя к ручью») (line 13a). There is other,
equally compelling, evidence of the intense expressiveness of this episode. The
entire length of the excerpt (11 lines, from 5a to 15a) is two
and a half times shorter than the contrasting episode in the fifth chapter (29
lines, from 1b to 29 b), and the non-coincidence of the metrical,
syntactic, and stanzaic boundaries of the narrative in the "flight wide-awake"
episode acquire "an intense dramatic expressiveness."
In fact, the text of stanza XXXVIII ends with a classic example of stanzaic
enjambment (the split-level line 15a). Earlier in the stanza, the reader
encounters a line enjambment: «Летит, летит; взглянуть назад / Не
смеет» ("She flies, she flies; to look back /
She does not dare") (lines 8a-9a).
Fragments of the Text
from Pushkin's Novel
contrast to this unaccountable impetuousness, the movements of the heroine in
the passage from Tatiana's "dream" begins with only an "acceleration" of her
steps, which are no more than "hurried," and between the two lines with the
word «бежит» ("runs") (4b and 27b),
significant space is devoted to a description of nature in winter (lines 6b
to 14b). The general dynamic of the narrative is thus checked, and there
is a pause in the development of the motif of "flight."
impeded action is reflected by the very verbal lexicon and syntax of stanza
XIV: «снег рыхлый по колено ей», «сук…зацепит», «увязнет мокрый башмачок», «выронит она платок» ("the loose snow is up to her knees,"
"a branch…snags," "her wet shoe gets stuck," "she drops her shawl"). There are
no line enjambments in the either stanza XIII or XIV of the fifth chapter, nor
is there any stanzaic enjambment. The narrative here is on the whole more
equable and calm. As regards the extra-schematic stress (spondee) in the second
line of stanza XIV («Снег рыхлый», line 16b), it no doubt disrupts
the smoothness of speech, but in its alternation with fully stressed lines it
is not very conspicuous. In the third chapter, a marker nearly identical in
strength («Вдруг топот!…» in line 3a) portends the
beginning of Tatiana's "flight"; it is precisely here that a new thematic turn
arises, and in this brief exclamation of surprise the spondee is significantly
more emotional and expressive.
principle, I could end this short critical analysis of some features of the
rhythm of the two episodes of Tatiana's "flight" here; but only in the case
that one considers no mathematics to be necessary, since it is audible
I hold another view, and the fact that
the formal apparatus of my study is based on a kind of mathematics, which, I
repeat, was simply not utilized during Bondi's time, is particularly germane to
my argument. This is the mathematics of harmony.
continue this discussion, it is important to recall that "short phrases and
sentences in Pushkin's style are not only dynamic, but also expressively
"stanzaic enjambment… is a result of a delicate and difficult rhythmic and
compositional device that amplifies and deepens the tone of a story by means of
intentionally transgressing the break between stanzas";
that in Pushkin these rhythmical effects "always harmonize with the
content of the story";
and that in the third chapter "this device expresses perfectly Tatiana's
would like to point out several facts that are related to the traditional
prosodic parameters of the poetic text and are connected, in the first place,
with an analysis of the mean of the number of stressed syllables in lines and
stanzas (Tстрк and Tстрф, respectively).
mean of the tonic volume of the stanzas (Тср) overall for the third and fifth chapters
of the novel are closely comparable (44.95 and 44.89 stressed syllables).
Against this background, Tatiana's "flight" episodes are clearly demarcated
statistically: 47,30 stressed syllables in the "flight wide-awake" and 46.25
for the "dream flight." Furthermore, while in the beginning of stanza XXXVIII
("flight wide-awake") the retardation of speech is clearly felt (all eight of
the first lines of stanza XXXVIII are fully stressed), a certain acceleration
begins in line 9 with the line enjambment «не смеет…»: five lines have three stresses each,
and the last line has only two. This kind of consistent reduction of the mean
number of stressed syllables in a line (Tстрк) is present neither in stanza XIII, nor in
stanza XIV of the fifth chapter ("dream flight"). Furthermore, it is evident
that line 13a is the only line in the stanza which omits a stress on the
first metric foot («По цветникам летя к ручью»); it is then followed by the only line
containing just two stresses, which ends syntactically in the first line of the
next stanza with the word «Упала…», constituting an internal rhyme with
lines from the previous stanza: «обежала—переломала—упала» (9a—12a—15a).
the reduced number of stressed syllables toward the end of the "flight
wide-awake," the Tстрк mean, attests to an acceleration of
movement, or (amounting to the same thing) an increasing tempo in the reading
of the text. At the same time, the number of rhythmically conditioned events
(semantically differentiating tensions of vocal participation) toward the end
of the stanza decreases. If one defines time in the usual way as the number of
significant events in an entity of objective time-space, the reader's
subjective experience of time is amplified (i.e., time moves more slowly) from
the beginning of the stanza to its close. In this case, the given entity is the
fixed volume of stressed syllables in the Onegin stanza, which equals 118.
conclusion, however, contradicts what I claimed above, namely that Tatiana's
"flight wide-awake" is characterized by a positive emotional state. After long
expecting a response from Onegin, and on the threshold of a meeting with him, a
strongly desired meeting that has just become inevitable, we might assume that
Tatiana could have no other possible feelings. In that case, however, according
to psychological findings, Tatiana's subjective experience of time (and that of
the reader who experiences it sympathetically with her) should speed up (as the
number of events increases), and not slow down, as my analysis of the text
above suggests is the case. This leads us to conclude that the psychological
effect of acceleration (or deceleration) of the subjective experience of time
is not determined by a simple alteration in the number of events in an entity
of objective time, but, as I will demonstrate below, the rate of the
change in rhythm of the poetic text. More specifically, it is not only the
speed, but the vector of change, rising in the presence of positive
emotions and falling in the presence of negative ones, that is significant (cf.
graphs 2 and 3).
should add that the empirical data do not support the more superficial
conclusion that there is a clear relationship between the positive emotional
state of Tatiana and the increase in the tempo of speech in stanza XXXVIII of
the third chapter. I will explain why. First, the acceleration of the tempo of
speech is clearly felt only in the last line of the stanza, while a
substantively new action (the "flight" of Tatiana) begins in the sixth line («Татьяна прыг в другие сени»). In other words, Tatiana is already
running, and even "flying" («летит, летит…»), and Pushkin renders the description
of this headlong displacement in the form of "slow," four-foot iambic lines in
which every stress is realized. Recall that the fully stressed lines in stanza
XXXVIII begin with the first and extend to the 8th line (1a—8a).
Second, in the full text of the novel Eugene Onegin such "sharpening"
of a stanza
occurs in 14 instances, and although one would have to be careful about making
such a claim for stanza XXIV («За что ж виновнее Татьяна?») in the third chapter, it would be
completely inappropriate for stanza XII of the same chapter («А нынче все умы в тумане»). As regards the "dream flight"
episode, only at the very beginning of stanza XIII is an acceleration in the
tempo of speech evident: lines 1b—3b have a Tстрк of four, three, and two stressed
syllables, respectively (Tстрк =2 in line 3b: «Но от косматого лакея»). One encounters no more lines with two
stresses throughout the whole "dream flight" episode, and the ordinary
alternation of lines in the novel having Tстрк=4 and Tстрк=3 offer no grounds for such a conclusion
about the connection of this parameter with the emotional and thematic aspect
of poetic narrative.
The Metaphysics of Space-Time
in the Poetic Text
question of time (physical and psychological) is one of the philosophical
concepts about which scholars and scientists have argued for many centuries,
and which they continue to dispute to this day. An analysis of the various
approaches to the notion of time as a philosophical concept does not
fall within the purview of this study. A number of well-known claims, however,
support my views on the matter of subjective time in the poetic text, and these
are relevant to my argument in this paper.
one studies time simultaneously with space," V.I. Vernadskij wrote, "the
passage of time will inevitably be expressed in terms of vectors.
This will not be a linear expression of time, as people sometimes say, but a
vectoral expression of time. On a given line, between two and the same points,
several vectors may be marked in directions that are analogous to them in their
position in space-time."
Time, as studied by physicists, and the subjective time of a human being, the
scientist emphasized, differ from one another, insofar as "the transitory
nature of life is experienced by us as duration, connected not only to
intellectual processes, but to the fundamental life processes." If the
measurement of time in physics is connected to motion and "based ultimately on
the well-known idea of periodicity—the return of an object to its former state"
(for example, astronomical time and the time on our watches), then "in this
approach the direction of time is lost from view."
Thus, in contrast to physical time, subjective time is real and
unambiguous, its perception is based on duration, and it is precisely
this subjective time that has direction and is inevitably expressed in
words of P. Florensky encourage the application of these views to the
study of the literary text: "When I approach a work of literature,
unconsciously following its governing scheme, I project it as though according
to an internal rhythm. A work is constructed in such a way that this
transformation of the scheme into a rhythm occurs spontaneously. If it does not
transpire, or until it transpires, the work remains incomprehensible. For the
work, until it has been read and realized in time, is not a literary work for
"scheme" of a poetic text, "projected" by the internal rhythm of the reader, is
in my view analogous to the objective (objectified) psychological time within
the framework of which the linear subjective time of every reader
emerges, experienced by him as duration, which must therefore be
characterized inevitably by different vectors. This difference in the
perception of verse, or more specifically, this difference in addition to
others, has long been known to literary scholars: "each person reads a poem
in one's own way,"
but the "uniqueness of rhythm is much easier to catch than it is to explain,
because esthetic perception is more intuitive than creativity is."
stanza of a poetic text is a measure of objective space-time of poetic speech;
it is a form of limited and periodically renewed structural and systematic
space-time, a form that provides the poet with the possibility of using one or
another means of literary realization of esthetic thought. The stanza as a measure
of objective artistic time establishes various, but always specific,
spatial-temporal limitations for the development of poetic thought. In order to
confirm this thesis, it is sufficient to recall the words of G.O. Vinokur,
who wrote that Pushkin "thought in the stanzas"
of his novel, or to cite N. Gumilev: "After choosing an image, the poet is
immediately faced with the question of its development and its proportions.
Both of these determine the choice of the number of lines and stanzas…One
stanza or another exerts greater influence on the poet's train of thought…even
such simple stanzas as the quatrain or the couplet have their peculiarities,
which the poet takes into account, albeit subconsciously."
the stanza as a measure of objective time not only imposes certain limitations
on the literary realization of the poet's thought, but also permits different
variations on the structuring of its artistic space, i.e. it permits a varying
architectonic organization of the text. Three variations of the stanzas of the
Russian classical line with an identical number of syllables (42), but
different poetic meter and a different number of lines to a stanza (four-line
five-foot iamb with paired feminine-masculine rhyme; five-line four-foot iamb
with aBaaB-rhyme; four-line asymmetrical meter 6464-iamb with paired
It is relevant to recall here that in poetry, according to Joseph Brodsky,
"poetic meters are in and of themselves spiritual entities, and they have no
equivalents. They cannot be substituted, even by one another, all the more by a
line written in free verse. Non-correspondence of meters is non-coincidence in
breathing and in the contracting of the heart muscle. Non-correspondence in the
rhyme scheme is the non-coincidence of brain functions."
repeat, for the reader periodic objective time is determined by the external
architectonic parameters of the stanza: meter, number of lines, rhyme. Through
its architectonic specificity, the stanza as the measure of movement of poetic
thought has the unique capacity to translate the subjective space of the poet
into the subjective space-time of the reader. This translation or transmission
does not point to the literal coincidence of these kinds of time, but condition
the maximum degree of proximity, imparted both as syllabic and as the
metrical-structural specificity of the stanza. Possible objections, connected
for example with various tempos of reading architectonically identical stanzas,
are dispelled by the fact that in the reality of our perception, neither the
subjective time of the poet, imparted to the reader in concrete material
substance as objective time, nor the actual subjective time of the reader, both
without each other, or one without the other, do not exist, and their
distinction is only the means of scholarly analysis of the problem of artistic
space-time. The goal of such analysis is to examine the distinctiveness
(particularity) of objective and subjective artistic time and to establish the
essence of their natural unity as a dynamic relationship, formally expressed as
the "divine" proportion of rhythm. Recall that the latter operates with the
same interdependent values as those that are also correlates of
objective (the total number of syllables) and subjective (the number of
stressed syllables) of time in the poem.
will formulate both general and practical conclusions in the following way.
time (duration) with rich emotional content is based on rhythm, which is
immanent and, at the same time, the latent qualitative and quantitative
foundation of the verse. It is this foundation that, on the one hand, is
discovered by the poet and conditionally fixed by him in the text, and on the
other hand, it is the essential quality of the line that is revealed (or not
revealed) by the reader during the process of his collaborative
interpretation of the author's poetic world. It is this rhythm that must be
found by the reader, which is "not given but guessed," for, according to A.
Belyj, rhythm is that which "must be found."
rhythm of the line, understood as the relationship between essential
elements of poetic speech, forms in the reader an alternation of experiences or
feelings that lies at the base of subjective time of the life virtually lived
by him. If it is true that on the basis of what we read "we recreate
images and their alternation,"
the rhythm of the text that is being read manifests itself by means of an anticipatory
effect as an emotionally expressive portent of future events in the virtual
temporal space of the poetic text.
It is precisely this quality of rhythm that may also serve as the foundation
for recognizing the triadic formula "rhythm-form-content" as the central axiom
of scholarship on verse.
Expression, Emotion, and Rhythm
observe another picture in the beginning of the "dream flight" (graph 3). The
decline begins here still later, at the end of stanza XII, and ends in line 8b
(cf. Table). This is followed by a sharp, brief incline (line 12b «Дороги нет; кусты, стремины»), and again a prolonged, gently sloping
decline asserts itself, until line 26b («Одежды край поднять стыдится»). I would like to point out that the
first "negative" vector begins in the text even earlier,
with the first line of stanza XII, «Как на досадную разлуку», and extends for 22 lines altogether.
The second negative vector extends for fourteen lines, which (with an extremely
short four-line positive jump) is very expressive. It is just this short jump
that increases the effect of extension of the emotionally fading activity that
makes it possible, I reiterate, not only simply to extend the given episode, as
such, but also to impart to it a minor expressive and semantic tone.
long before the beginning of Tatiana's "dream flight" the expressiveness in
verse falls—until it becomes clear that «Дороги нет.» At this crucial juncture of the verse
a short, sharp jump is registered, and then the curve again descends, and only
with the words «Она бежит…» does the vector of movement change
direction and rise. Here, however, the deviation of the CE value is not as
great as it was formerly, and it is significantly less than the analogous
expressive jumps in the episode "flight wide-awake." Juxtaposing the CE graph
to the text, it is possible to see the anticipatory effect of rhythm, insofar
as the basis for the change in emotion and the glimpse of hope for a fortuitous
ending of the meeting between Tatiana and the bear appear in the text only
starting with the third quatrain of stanza XV: «и ярко светится окошко…Здесь мой кум, Погрейся у
него немножко». But the negative vector of movement
changed its sign into a positive one as many as twelve lines before, at the end
of the previous stanza (graph 3), proving thereby what to the reader has
become not so very "terrifying" long before he reads these words in the text
itself of the fifth chapter.
the CE curve in stanza XXXVIII of the third chapter is for the most part not a
falling one, as in stanzas XIII and XIV of the fifth chapter, but a rising one,
with one short, negative deviation in the third quatrain of this stanza (cf.
graph 2). The same difference is evident in the CE average of 0.93 for the
"flight" of Tatiana in the fifth chapter, and 1.62 for the "flight" episode in
the third chapter of the novel. All of this provides some basis for
In Lieu of a Conclusion
The clear, graphic picture of the
acceleration of subjective time in the episode "flight wide-awake," in contrast
to the deceleration in the "dream flight" episode, confirms my assumption that
the first excerpt engenders in the reader (or more specifically, is capable of
engendering) a positive emotional attitude, and in the second, a negative one.
This conclusion completely accords with the results of the literary analysis of
the emotionally charged content of Pushkin's excerpts, as well as with
scholarly findings in psychology.
Subjective time, perceived by the reader
as duration, is represented in the form of vectors of parameter CE
substituting one another—the rate of change of the value of the rhythmic and
harmonic precision of verse. The general orientation of these vectors in the
episodes of Tatiana's "flight wide-awake" and "dream flight" are clearly
opposed to one another. In the first case, we observe a more and more headlong
growth in the positive vector of change of the CE parameter against the
background of a high level of rhythmic and harmonic precision of the verse
(RHP). The second excerpt is formally presented as two long negative CE
vectors, interrupted by just one short splash that serves to strengthen the
general expression of continually fading expressiveness of movement. The very
lowest level of rhythmic and harmonic precision of the verse from the beginning
of the fifth chapter corresponds to this feeling. However, as becomes clear
further in the text, the rhythmically emphasized hopelessness of what has
occurred is not hopeless at all, and the rhythmic impulses later begin to give
rise to hope for a better outcome of the "flight wide awake" episode.
The fact of the anticipatory effect of
the rhythm as an emotional and expressive portent of future events is analogous
to phenomena that are well established in nature, in which the preemptive, and
therefore protective, actions of animals is a response to the anomalous
rhythmic impulses that portend catastrophe.
Drawing such parallels is by no means so precipitate and unfounded as might
first appear, for, as Kant wrote, nature dictates rules to art by
means of genius, and, according
to Marina Tsvetaeva, "art is the same thing as nature."
Thus, the excerpts of Pushkin's novel,
identical in their "semantic aureole," are actually very distant from one
another in their "expressive aureole," and justifying this critical conclusion
from the position of a unified rhythmo-semantics was possible only on the basis
of the methodology and method of formalist esthetic prosody. I hope to lend
this conclusion a more weighty axiomatic character in forthcoming studies. Here
ends my attempt to "verify by the algebra of harmony" a poetic text.