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Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Arts and Humanities legacy departments
Title: Free poetry: a systemic approach
Author(s): Haynes, John
Issue Date: 1982
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This study deals with poetic language from the point of view of systemic linguistics. The focus of attention is on poetry in free rhythms ('free verse'), but the wider aim is to provide a description of poetic communication which will cover all types of poetry, metrical as well as non-metrical. All poetry, it is argued, is characterised by the kind of attention the reader has to pay to the linguistic medium itself. In reading poetry we have to bear in mind not only the situation represented by the text, its 'goal-meaning', but also the means through which this meaning is produced, the 'path-meaning', or 'linguisticity'. Linguisticity characterises all kinds of poetry, but is not always a matter of attention gaining linguistic devices such as metre and metaphor; it has to do primarily with the situational context of reading. The approach adopted in this study differs from comparable studies of poetic language in that it takes tree poetry as its central concern, something very few stylisticians have attempted, none having done so at any length. Analyses of poetry have hitherto dealt overwhelmingly with metrical poems. Another difference is that the present approach provides a mechanism through which details of phonology, grammar, and semantics, can be related to wider social and semiotic meanings. Most approaches to stylistics or poetics emphasise either the linguistic expression (or 'realization') of the poem, or the social semiotic 'codes' it uses, but they fail to show how these are connected. A systemic approach, taking poetry as a matter of meanings of different kinds and levels, can make this connection since the systemic model of language itself provides an account of the relation between context of situation and the linguistic system. Linguisticity itself is looked at from the point of view of the three semantic meaning components posited by Halliday, the ideational, the interpersonal, and the textual. All these components may realize linguisticity and hence characterise poetic language, though different poems show different weightings. It is possible to look at linguisticity from the point of view of the semantic components and to see how each component is realized in the grammar and/or phonology of the poem. The main difference between metrical and non metrical poems is that in the former the textual meaning is realized in certain phonological ways, while this is not so in the latter. Most of the study is devoted to linguisticity, which is a characteristic of the poetic ' genre'. The relation between genre and subject-matter is described in terms of the 'philosophical meaning' of the poem. The philosophical meaning is thought of as the kinds of wider inference which may be drawn from the contemplation of path-meanings. The introductory and first chapters are concerned with the systemic view of language and its application to poetry. The next three chapters provide illustrations drawn from strictly metrical, loosely metrical, and free passages of poetry. The next two chapters review the sources of problems dealt with in the study, and compare the present theory with some others. The final chapter relates the theory to wider more literary critical concerns and with the connections between subject-matter and philosophical meaning.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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