The Conventionality and Novelty of Metaphorical Expressions in British and American Love Poetry: A Cognitive Approach

Conceptual metaphor, CMT, novel metaphor, conventional metaphor, love


November 1, 2022


According to the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), metaphors are pervasive in everyday life, and most novel poetic metaphors are developed from conventional metaphors. Several examples and explanations have been provided to support these assertions; however, there has yet to be a systematic investigation into the conventionality and novelty of metaphors in literature. To partly fill in these gaps, the present study aims to explore which conceptual metaphors of love are frequently employed in British and American love poems and how the poets adapt them to bring novelty to their works. Love, one of the most highly metaphorised concepts, was chosen as the topic of the metaphors in this study, for there is a considerable resource of love poems available to be explored. The findings of the study reveal that there are nine conventional conceptual metaphors of love employed in British and American love poems. The conventionality and novelty of metaphors in poetry were then analysed in their respective poetic contexts, focusing on how the poets have adopted four techniques (extending, elaboration, questioning, and combining) to create novel expressions from conventional language. This study indicates that the knowledge of conceptual metaphors can help a person, especially a learner of a foreign language, to interpret poetic metaphors in literary contexts.