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This essay conceives of rhythm as a process of sense-making. It begins with a discussion of the relation between rhythm and coping in psychoanalytic theory, with reference to Freud’s account of the fort/da game and Nicolas Abraham’s rhythmical account of psychoanalytic aesthetics. This broadly phenomenological account is then contrasted with the accounts of rhythm at work in recent debates over historical poetics and the relation of poetics to history. Finally, an account of rhythm as coping is used to suggest how critics might move beyond the opposition between poetics and hermeneutics that characterize this debate. It is argued that rhythm-making is something we do to cope with the world and that verse criticism can be usefully understood as a project of recovering the anxiety and enjoyment that can be encountered in reading rhythmical verse, so that ultimately the work and play of interpretation overcomes the division between content and form.