He’s A Live Wire, Metaphor and Poetry
The use of metaphor in poetry is one of the most important aspects of poetic style that must be mastered. Metaphor can be described as figure of speech in which a thing is referred to as being something that it resembles. From the perspectives of construction, poetic and cognitive function and working mechanism, where metaphor is constructed from human perceptual experience and is extended through imaginative processes.
An important feature of cognitive stylistics has been its interest in the way we transfer mental constructs, and especially in the way we chart one mental representation onto another when we read texts. Cognitive linguists have consistently drawn attention to this system of conceptual transfer in both literary and in everyday discourse, and have identified important figures of speech, through which this conceptual transfer is carried out.
Conceptual Metaphor, also called Cognitive Metaphor, was developed by researchers within the field of cognitive linguists. It became widely known with the publication of Metaphors We Live By, by Lakoff and Johnson, in 1980. Conceptual metaphor theory has since been developed and elaborated.
Definition and Construction of Metaphor as we know, metaphor is a type of figurative language in which one thing is described in terms of some other thing. The word metaphor comes from Greek ‘metapherein’ which means carry over. Another translation is transference, a term more familiar to us from psychoanalytic theory (dictionary.com). In a metaphor, one of the basic senses of a form, the source domain, is used to grasp or explain a sense in a different domain, called target domain. (Lakoff, Johnson, 12). The idea that we take attitudes from one area of experience and use them to approach and understand another is fundamental to human interactions with the world.
In cognitive linguistics, conceptual metaphor, or cognitive metaphor, refers to the understanding of one idea, or conceptual domain, in terms of another, for example, understanding quantity in terms of directionality. "She eats like a bird". A conceptual domain can be any coherent organization of human experience. The regularity with which different languages employ the same metaphors, which often appear to be perceptually based, has led to the hypothesis that the mapping between conceptual domains corresponds to neural mappings in the brain.
Some theorists have suggested that metaphors are not merely stylistic, but that they are cognitively important as well. In “Metaphors We Live by” by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson argue that metaphors are pervasive in everyday life, not just in language, but also in thought and action. A common definition of a metaphor can be described as a comparison that shows how two things that are not alike in most ways are similar in another important way. They explain how a metaphor is simply for understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another. The authors call this concept a ‘conduit metaphor.’ By this, they meant that a speaker can put ideas or objects into words or containers, and then send them along a channel, or conduit, to a listener who takes that idea or object out of the container and makes meaning of it. In other words, communication is something that ideas go into. The container is separate from the ideas themselves. Lakoff and Johnson give several examples of daily metaphors we use, such as “argument is war” and “time is money.” Metaphors are widely used in context to describe personal meaning. The authors also suggest that communication can be viewed as a machine: “Communication is not what one does with the machine, but is the machine itself.” (Johnson, Lakoff, 19)
Concerned with its construction, metaphor is made up of three elements: Tenor- the subject under discussion, Vehicle –what the subject is compared to, Ground- what the poet believes the tenor and vehicle have in common. For instance, the metaphor “...
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