Metaphor as Metalanguage in Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s “The Horses of Meaning”

Sigrid Renaux


Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s innate concern with poetic language per se, as a poet, translator, and scholar, is evident in many of her poems, such as “Early Recollections”, “Studying the Language”, “Translation”, “The Horses of Meaning”, and “Gloss/Clós/Glas”, among others. For this reason, this article investigates, from the perspective of Jakobson’s
theoretical considerations in “Linguistics and Poetics”, Chuilleanáin’s
handling of poetic language specifically in “The Horses of Meaning”
(Selected Poems, 2009), in order to evaluate not only how the interaction among the different functions of language becomes concretized in the verbal structure of the poem, but also how the use of metaphor and metalanguage – conveyed by the title and developed throughout the poem – will further emphasize the predominance of the poetic upon the metalingual, referential, emotive, and conative functions. In this way, “The Horses of Meaning”, besides being a “visual and auditory experience”, becomes paradigmatic of Jakobson’s statement that “the poetic function is not the sole function of verbal art but only its dominant, determining function”.


Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin; Metaphor; Metalanguage.

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