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Whissell, C.

Emotion and Closure in the Sound Expressiveness of Quatrains from Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. C. Whissell.
Empirical Studies of the Arts 18 (2000) 2, p. 135-149.

This article follows two branches of Tsur's cognitive poetic theory to their logical conclusion and applies them to Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam where they are fully validated. The first branch emphasizes the expressiveness of speech sounds (phonemes) and the second branch the importance of the Gestalt principle of closure to poetry. Rubaiyat were phonetically transcribed and their phonemes were then categorized in terms of emotional character. The closural device of a return to baseline described the preferential use of active phonemes in the rubaiyat while the closural allusion of definitive termination described the preferential use of pleasant phonemes. Clynes' concept of the essentic form for grief was used to explain the rise and fall of preferential activation in the first three lines of each quatrain. The emotional picture drawn of the rubaiyat on the basis of these procedures was one of fatalism or emotional resignation. General patterns and individual examples are discussed.