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Snowy Helen and Bull-Faced Wine: Ion and the logic of poetic language

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Chapter Summary

Among Ion's poetic fragments there are several examples of deliberate and self-conscious strategies for poetic expression, involving the startling or anti-traditional matching of words to referents to which they do not conventionally belong. This chapter presents a selection of such examples to explore some of the communicative strategies that may be involved when a poet engages in "semantic stretch" of the kind now-a-days conventionally known as metaphor. The examples include: (I) snowy Helen; (ii) bull-faced wine; and (iii) "purpling" utterances. In the particular case of "snowy Helen", the lack of context prevents us from assembling a definite answer or choosing between the alternatives offered by Michael Silk. The strangeness of Ion's language disappears once its codes are understood. In this sense, the logic of Ion's poetic language is geometric rather than spiralling, and despite the unconventional oddity of his verbal experiments, their challenge is essentially that of a game.

Keywords: bull-faced wine; Ion's poetic fragments; Ion's poetic language; Michael Silk; snowy Helen



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