The metaphor imperative : a study of metaphor's assuaging role in poetic composition from Ovid to Alice Oswald
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Part I of the thesis considers the nature and function of metaphor in the articulation of both poetic theme and of poetic self. Using close analysis of texts by Ovid, Shakespeare, George Herbert and a number of contemporary poets, and drawing on material from both published and unpublished interviews which I undertook with Alice Oswald, Glyn Maxwell and Andrew Motion, (the transcripts of which are included in the appendices), this thesis uses metaphor theory, literary criticism and cognitive poetic criticism to argue that the assuaging role of metaphor is fundamental at critical junctures of poetic composition. Chapter One provides a historical survey of metaphor theory. Chapter Two, in order to determine the best methodology for my analysis of the key thesis texts, contrasts three different readings of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73. Chapter Three suggests the model of Ovidian metamorphosis as a means to examine the assuaging role of metaphor in crisis of consciousness and utterance. The dialectic of sameness and difference, a key property of metaphor, is shown to be intimately connected with the imperative for assuagement in the modern lyric poet. Chapter Four explores a number of ways in which metaphor is deployed by George Herbert to overcome the personal and poetic inhibitions he experiences as a result of his intimate awareness of a listening God. Chapter Five examines Andrew Motion’s movement away from the metonymic towards the metaphoric mode in The Customs House. Chapter Six analyses how Alice Oswald, by creating a radically innovative metaphoric mapping between biography and simile pairs assuages the long litany of violent deaths drawn from Homer’s Iliad. Chapter Seven examines the way Glyn Maxwell in The Sugar Mile, embraces dramatic analogue and metaphor as a means to address the horror of 9/11. All of the poets examined in the thesis are using metaphor to render the incomprehensible comprehensible. Part II of the thesis consists of my own poems.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Electronic copy restricted until 19th May 2019
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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