Building on statistical approaches to poetic meter, this article puts forward a new quantitative method for exploring syllabo-accentual verse that takes into account several formal properties, including rhythm, rhyming, and stanzaic architecture. Against the background of a broad typology of European verse, it argues that a basic compensatory mechanism balancing different levels of organization of verse is complicated by the interaction between different national traditions. As a particularly complex case the article investigates the introduction of syllabo-accentual verse in Russia in the 1730s–40s, which represented an encounter between Polish, German, and French practices of versification. In addition to the general compensatory principle and local effects of borrowing, the article discusses a previously unexplored kind of formal complexity that evolves with the maturation of a tradition of verse making: certain nontrivial correlations between rhythm and rhyme that have been observed in Pushkin are not found in the work of Lomonosov, a poet who stands at the origin of Russian syllabo-accentual verse. The article’s conclusion addresses the relevance of the quantitative approach to the larger theoretical claims of Historical Poetics.

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