chapter  8
18 Pages

The Role of Metaphor in Poetic Iconicity: Margaret H. Freeman


Poetry has been defi ned variously as a vision, an illusion, an imitation, a semblance of reality. Philosophically, the word image refers to impressions of all fi ve senses in the conceptual mind. That poetry can create in our minds an image of the world’s reality makes it iconic in the semiotic sense of “a verbal sign which somehow shares the properties of, or resembles, the object which it denotes” (Wimsatt 1954: x). Peirce identifi es the icon as being composed of image, diagram and metaphor. Iconicity studies fall mainly into two categories: iconography-the representation of reality through material signs (Tseng 1999), and iconology-the placing of signs within an ideological (social, political, cultural) environment (Miller 1993). These procedural and functional categories result in an icon’s ontology, a state of being or “essence” (Freeman 2007). How image and diagram might iconically interrelate with metaphor was not explored until Masako Hiraga’s (2005) ground-breaking studies on applying blending theory to the role of iconicity and metaphor in poetic texts. Hiraga suggests that “grammatical metaphor” is the bridge that links Peirce’s image to diagram. In Fauconnier and Turner’s (2002) original blending model, the generic space “contains” the structural elements that the two input (image) spaces have in common, thus enabling the blend to emerge. I propose that in art forms the emergent meaning of the blend becomes iconic when the relationship between concept and structure in an expression is metaphoric. In other

words, when a metaphorical relation exists between image and diagram, iconicity may occur (Figure 8.1).