Saturday, July 3, 2010

Diction

Poetic diction treats of the manner in which language is used, and refers not only to the sound but also to the underlying meaning and its interaction with sound and form. Many languages and poetic forms have very specific poetic dictions, to the point where distinct grammars and dialects are used specifically for poetry. Registers in poetry can range from strict employment of ordinary speech patterns, as favoured in much late 20th century prosody, through to highly ornate and aureate uses of language by such as the medieval and renaissance makars.

Poetic diction can include rhetorical devices such as simile and metaphor, as well as tones of voice, such as irony.[62] Aristotle wrote in the Poetics that "the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor."[63] Since the rise of Modernism, some poets have opted for a poetic diction that deemphasizes rhetorical devices, attempting instead the direct presentation of things and experiences and the exploration of tone. On the other hand, Surrealists have pushed rhetorical devices to their limits, making frequent use of catachresis.

Allegorical stories are central to the poetic diction of many cultures, and were prominent in the West during classical times, the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.[64] Rather than being fully allegorical, however, a poem may contain symbols or allusions that deepen the meaning or effect of its words without constructing a full allegory.

Another strong element of poetic diction can be the use of vivid imagery for effect. The juxtaposition of unexpected or impossible images is, for example, a particularly strong element in surrealist poetry and haiku. Vivid images are often, as well, endowed with symbolism.

Many poetic dictions use repetitive phrases for effect, either a short phrase (such as Homer's "rosy-fingered dawn" or "the wine-dark sea") or a longer refrain. Such repetition can add a somber tone to a poem, as in many odes, or can be laced with irony as the context of the words changes. For example, in Antony's famous eulogy of Caesar in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Antony's repetition of the words, "For Brutus is an honorable man," moves from a sincere tone to one that exudes irony.[65]

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