This chapter considers how a modern reader can make sense of a medieval text, but also to have an aesthetic and emotional reaction to the text. It deploys insights from neuroscientific work on emotion in mental processing, the psychology and history of emotions, and cognitive poetic approaches to the aesthetics of reading, to consider how poetic language use interacts with cognitive structures and processes. By using a new diachronic perspective, this chapter explores the shared cognitive basis of meaning and feeling in short (translated) elegiac poems written over 1,000 years ago in Old English. It demonstrates that readerly emotional investment arises from linguistic features, including metaphoric language and affective triggers, to produce a literary effect. By tracing the interaction of affective and interpretive processes, this chapter considers the shared cognitive/emotional basis of meaning-making in both proximate and distant literary responses and broadens the scope of inquiries into cognition and poetics.