Dead metaphors – Poetical resuscitation

… Taking off from Yesterday’s post on dead metaphors, here is a short e.g. of poetical resuscitation.

The poet Liz Lochhead is a good example of someone who takes everyday figures of speech, and makes them seem strange by breaking them down so that the reader has to think of them again, in a new way. In the poem Bawd she writes:

It’ll amaze you, the company I keep –
and I’ll keep them at arm’s length-
I’ve hauled my heart in off my sleeve.

There are two metaphors which would usually be considered dead here: to keep at arm’s length and to wear your heart on your sleeve. The two are combined in such a way as to call attention to themselves and to their exact phrasing. Keep is used twice, in the first line to suggest proximity, and in the second to suggest distance. The word arm in the second line and the word sleeve in the third draw attention to themselves because they collocate(collocation – refers to words that are associated with each other , e.g. green grass) in their literal senses. The metaphorical usage of both words refer to emotional distance or availability. The words of the metaphors are being explored, instead of being taken for granted. Further on in the poem are the lines:

I’ll shrug everything off the shoulder,
make wisecracks, be witty off the cuff.

Will leave the interpretation to your imagination.

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Posted on October 9, 2003, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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