Poetic and Highly Literary Words

Poetic words, as the term itself implies, are used primarily in poetry. They may be likened to terms in more than one way. First of all they belong to a definite style of language and perform in it their direct function. If encountered in another style they assume a new function, mainly satirical, for the two notions, poetry and prose, have been opposed to each other from time immemorial. Poetic language has special means of communication,  i. e. rhythmical arrangement, some syntactical peculiarities and a certain number of special words. The special poetic vocabulary has a marked tendency to detach itself from common literary  word  stock  and  assume  a  special significance. Poetic words claim to be, as it were, of higher rank. They are aristocrats in the language and do not allow any mingling with the lower ranks. They make a careful selection of the company they circle in. Poetic words and expressions were called upon to sustain the special elevated atmosphere of poetry a function, which they even now claim to carry out.
V.V. Vinogradov gives the following properties of poetic words: "...the cobweb of poetic words and images veils the reality, stylizing it according to the established literary nor canons. A word is torn away from its referent. Being drawn into the system of literary styles, the words are selected and arranged in groups of definite images, in phraseological series, which grow standardized and stale and are becoming conventional symbols of definite phenomena or characters or of definite ideas impressions." Poetic words in the English language do not a homogeneous group: They include archaic words, such whilom, ne, lemon, and many others, as in the second stanza Childe Harold's Pilgrimage:
Whilome in Albion's Isles there dwelt a youth,
Who ne in virtue's ways did take delight,
But spent his days in riot most uncouth,
And vex'd with mirth the drowsy ear of Night.
Ah me! In sooth he was a shameless wight
Sore given to revel and ungodly glee;
Few earthly tilings found favour in his sight
Save concubines and carnal companie,
And flaunting wassailers of high and low degree.

Poetical tradition has kept alive such archaic words an_ forms as yclept (p. p. of the old verb clipien- 'to call, name quoth (p. t. of cuoethan -'to speak1); eftsoons (eftsona, -'again, 'soon after'), which are used even by modern ballad-mongers. Let us note in passing that archaic words are here to be understood as units that have either entirely gone out of use, or as words some of meanings have grown archaic, e. g.. hall in the following Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: Deserted is my own hall, its hearth is desolate. It must be remembered though, nt all English poetry makes use of "poeticisms or poetical hey might be named. In the history of English literature were periods, as there were in many countries, which were characterized by protests against the use of such conventional symbols. The literary trends known as classicism and romanticism were partcularly rich in fresh poetic terms.
Poetical words in an ordinary environment may also have a satirical function as seen in this passage from Byron. But Adeline was not indifferent: for
(Now for a common-place!) beneath the snow, As a volcano holds the lava more
Within - et cetera. Shall I go on? - No, I hate to hunt down a tired metaphor,
So let the often-used volcano go. Poor thing: How frequently, and others, It hath been stirred up till its smoke quite smothers! (Don Juan)
The satirical function of poetic words and conventional poetic devices is well revealed in this stanza. The 'tired metaphor' and the volcano' are typical of Byron's estimate of the value of conventional metaphors and stereotyped poetical expressions. The striving for the unusual - the characteristic feature of some kinds of poetry - is akin to the sensational and is therefore to be not only in poetry, but in many other styles. A modern English literary critic has remarked that in journalese a man never goes to an appointed spot; he proceeds to it. The picturesque reporter seldom talks of a horse, it is a steed or a charger. The sky is the welkin; the valley is the vale: fire is the devouring element... Poetical words and word combination can be likened to terms in that they do not easily yield to polysemy. They are said to evoke emotive meanings. They colour the utterance with a certain air of loftiness, but generally fail to produce a genuine feeling of delight: they a hackneyed for the purpose, too stale. And that is the reason that the excessive use of poetisms at present calls forth protest and derision towards those who favour this conventional device. The use of poetic words does not as a rule create the atmosphere of poetry in the true sense; it is a substitute for real art. This is probably due to the very low degree of predictability, which is a property of a truly poetical work. Poetic words are not freely built in contrast to neutral, colloquial and common literary: words, or terms. The commonest means is b\ compounding, e.g. 'young-eyed', 'often-used', in the above quotations from Byron. There is however one means of creating new poetic words recognized as productive even in present-day English, viz. use of a contracted form of a word instead of the full one, e.g., drear instead of dreary, scant (= 'scanty'). Sometimes reverse process leads to the birth of a poetism, e. g., : vasty (='vast" 'The vasty deep,' i. e. the ocean); sleepy (='steep'); 'paly' (='pale'). These two conventional devices are called forth b\ requirements of the metre of the poem, to add or remove a syllable, and are generally avoided by modern English poets, as the reader is apt to think him a poor poet if he could not find a better way to express himself in the chosen form.
Poetical words and set expressions make the utterance understandable only to a limited number of readers. It is mainly due to poeticisms that poetical language is sometimes called d jargon. In modern English poetry there is a strong tendency to use words in strange combinations. It manifests itself in  the coinage of new words and, most of all, in combining old and familiar words in a way that hinders understanding and forces the  reader to stop and try to decipher the message so
The following may serve as examples: "and time yet for a hundred indecisions." (T. S. Eliot) "he danced his did."E.E.Cummings) "a grief ago." (Dylan Thomas)
Source: I.R.Galperin. Stylstics.

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