The metaphors for death and the death of conceptual metaphors in poetry. An analysis based on Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop For Death”

Elena Faur


One of the well-known tenets of the cognitive semanticists is the idea (already argued in Lakoff and Turner 1989) that poetic language makes a special use of the same underlying conceptual metaphors as the ordinary ones. In contradistinction to this view, I propose that poetic metaphors are not derived from our conventionalized conceptual metaphors. My argumentation will focus on the study of metaphors for Death from a single poem, namely from Emily Dickinson’s poem Because I Could Not Stop For Death. The analysis will prove that the supposed basic “operations”   of “extending”, “elaborating”, “composing”, “questioning” of conventionalized conceptual metaphors – are in fact poetic semantic strategies oriented towards “contradicting” the “parameters of generic-level structure” of metaphors and, consequently, our ordinary experience in the world.

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