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Summary Details

Query:   'Life is Journey' Metaphors in Poems
Author:  Vicky Tzuyin Lai
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Ling & Literature

Summary:   I have posted a question concerning LIFE IS JOURNEY metaphor in poetry (12.926). I have received several responding emails, listed below. I thank you all very much for helping me.

Vicky Tzuyin Lai

From: ''tzuyinlai''
Subject: LIFE IS JOURNEY metaphor in poetry

I am doing a research on LIFE IS JOURNEY metaphor in English poetry. For example, in Robert Frost's poem ''The Road Not Taken'', the LIFE IS JOURNEY metaphor is used. Could you suggest other poems using the same metaphor?

I will compile a list and post for the future reference.
Thank you.

Vicky Tzuyin Lai

First canto in Dante's infereno
Roger Hurwitz

You might find the poem ''Prayer to the Pacific'' by Leslie Marmon Silko useful to your study of the life-as-journey metaphor. Silko is part American Indian, part Mexican, part white. She is from the state of New Mexico in the U.S. The poem speaks of more than a personal (and metaphorical) journey to the edge of the Pacific ocean. It also speaks in
terms of tribal myth and the origins of her people in Asia--specifically China--which I feel could be read as the life-journey of an entire people. Since you are apparently from Taiwan (I used to teach in Hsinchu), you might be especially drawn to this poem. You can find it in the *Norton Anthology of American Literature* or in Silko's book *Storyteller*, which is probably a bit more difficult to find than the Norton. All the best. Your study sounds interesting.

A. Cecilia Hazelrigg
Doctoral Candidate, Educational Linguistics
University of New Mexico

Dear Vicky,
There is the poetry of Emily Dickinson, some of which was analysed by Lakoff and Turner (1989). Their book is titled More than Cool Reason. A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago and London: The Chicago University Press. I hope this will help you. Good luck.
Dr Zouhair Maalej,
Department of English, Chair,
Faculty of Letters,
University of Manouba,
Tunis-Manouba, 2010, Tunis, Tunisia.

Hi. In response to your query on the Linguist List about Life Is A Journey metaphors in poetry, if you haven't already consulted Lakoff and Johnson's (1989) book ''More than cool reason,'' you would surely find it useful. This metaphor also appears regularly throughout Lakoff's other works.

I am also attaching a paper (as of yet, unpublished) that I wrote on Life Is A Journey and Love Is A Journey metaphors in song lyrics. In my master's thesis (from which the paper stems), I argued that song lyrics are, in fact, poetry. If you would like justification for that theory, which is argued by some theorists, I can provide it as well.

I hope this is useful!

Amy Ruzycki-Shinabarger

Dear colleague,
I have a collection of metaphors on LIFE IS A JOURNEY in Turkish (prose, poetry and spontaneous speech). It is part of a paper I wrote on metaphors of death & life in Turkish. I would be happy to send further information if you are interested.

Best regards,
seyda ozcaliskan

Ms Lai,

I believe you have chosen a very difficult subject. Life is hard to express in a poem because a poem usually captures a fregment of life. Almost all of Frost's poems express beautifully such a fragment. But you might look at Emily Dickinson's poems. One I remember talks about Death picking her up in a carriage and in the end she realizes that
she is on a ''journey to death.''

You will find many, many more examples of ''Life as a Journey'' in novels and movies. The picaresque (travel) novels of the 17th and 18th century are a good example.

There is also the sub-theme of ''growing into adulthood as a journey,'' which is more common in literature (e.g., Salinger) than ''life as a journey.'' And there is also the related theme of ''life-goes-on as a journey'' such as in Western movies where the hero
rides into town, saves everyone, and then rides off into the sunset (life goes on). The ending of Faulkner's ''Light in August'' uses the same symbolism with the black woman walking down the road (life goes on).

Actually, you would be better off asking this question on a literature teachers' list, not a linguists' list.

John Mackin

Maybe try Tolkien's ''The Road goes ever on and on''

Robert Orr

Dear Vicky,

I have read your message about poems using the metaphor of life as a journey. It is a very interesting topic and it is very related to a classical image of the ship of self. People are ships and life is our journey.

There is a poem by Wyatt called ''My galley charged with forgetfulness'' which you may like.

I guess poems that deal with ships and the sea are very related to your topic of interest.

Rafael Ballesteros

There is a lovely poem by the Greek poet Kavafis. The title of the poem is Ithaka and you can find it in a translation of Kavafis poems by Edmund Keely & Philip Sherrard.

Kazantzakis's epic poem 'The Odyssey' is another one translated by Kimon Friar. But this one is huge.

All the best
Irene Philippaki-Warburton
Professor of Linguistics
The University of Reading,
POBox 218, Reading, RG6 6AA, UK

LL Issue: 12.1029
Date Posted: 11-Apr-2001
Original Query: Read original query


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