Interval model of Russian metrics and strict tonic verse

2021. №5, 106-136

Eugene M. Breydo
BE-Tech., Inc., New York, USA;


The purpose of this paper is to give a short description of the interval approach to Russian metrics and investigate a new tonic meter discovered using this approach. It is called strict tonic verse (STV) and follows closely the taktovik in its looseness. The paper contains two parts. In the fi rst part, main postulates of the Interval Model (IM), i.e. a formal linguistic-oriented theory of Russian metrics, are described. The most important in IM is studying of interict intervals and classifi cation of metric forms according to their values. The main advantage of the given model is that the underlying principle of its classifi cation allows us to discover new metric forms. In the second part, one of the meters discovered by this method is analyzed, namely the strict tonic verse (STV). This is the fi rst Russian meter that has been discovered theoretically and not intuitively perceived or “noticed” by poets or researchers. As a result of corpus analysis of all Mayakovsky’s poems a group of 65 poems, comprised of 2831 lines, written in STV has been identifi ed. Two types of STVs with different sets of interict intervals have been discovered. We have also analyzed the tonic verse of Choline, Brodsky and Rein in the Russian National Corpus. Poems of 10 authors with very diff erent metric repertoire written in the course of the 20th century have been analyzed as well. These data are presented in statistical tables and diagrams. Individual parameters of strict tonic verse for each of these authors are diff erent, but there is no doubt that all these texts represent one verse meter. In the present paper, the popularity of STV in the Russian poetry of the 20th century is established, but a detailed analysis of strict tonics by diff erent poets and of the genesis of this meter deserves a separate study.

For citation:

Breydo E. M. Interval model of Russian metrics and strict tonic verse. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2021, 5: 106–136.


I am very grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions and remarks which I tried to account to the best of my abilities.