Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

A blazoned book of language

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Individuals recognize in the use of many words an original and a transferred meaning, and good speakers and poets have in all times, now more, now less consciously, refreshed and intensified these transferences, or imitated them. Thus poetic metaphor is an outgrowth of the natural transferences of normal speech. It was a general transition, no doubt, when people spoke of ruffled or of deep or of stormy feelings; this general usage was revived and deepened when, to quote a very well chosen example, Wordsworth wrote:

The gods approve
The depth and not the tumult of the soul.

The usual poetic metaphors, then, are individual creations on the model of the regular linguistic transference. The picturesque saying that “Language is a book of faded metaphors” is exactly the reverse of reality, where poetry is rather a blazoned book of language.

Leonard Bloomfield, An Introduction to the Study of Language

Written by nevalalee

July 29, 2017 at 7:30 am

Posted in Quote of the Day

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