Metaphor and Allusion

  • Rachel Sutton-Spence


In the last chapter we considered the themes that occur in many sign language poems, using Dorothy Miles’ compositions as examples. Frequently, the themes were used as metaphors and symbols for other ideas, and in this chapter we will now consider poetic metaphor in general. Earlier chapters have described several different ways in which poetic language becomes ‘foregrounded’ when it stands out as being different from normal, everyday language. Just as the form of language may stand out as being unusual in a poem, so may the meaning of the language be unusual, too. A key aim of poetry is to get the greatest significance into the fewest well-chosen words, and one way to do this is to create more than one layer of meaning in the poem. People usually do not expect hidden meaning in everyday language, but in poetry the audience can assume that there are hidden meanings to seek out behind the surface meaning that first presents itself. Metaphor allows poets to use one idea to express another, and this poetic device is as crucial to added significance in sign language poetry as it is in spoken language poetry.


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© Rachel Sutton-Spence 2005

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  • Rachel Sutton-Spence

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