Iconicity in Verse

American Journal of Semiotics 31 (3):377-396 (2015)

Abstract

The aim for this article is to outline a typology of iconicity in verse, ranging from Form miming form to Meaning miming form/meaning. Verse here means the occurrence of rhythmical devices, such as meter, and the division into lines and stanzas. As a starting point, the different possible appearances of ‘representamens’ in mainly twentieth-century poetry will be discussed, following Elleström’s distinction between visual material signs, auditory material signs and complex cognitive signs. In the article, verse is explored as a sensorically complex, mixed medium, because its ‘representamens’ frequently depend on both visual and auditory traits. Furthermore, it is important to stress that verse can be “form” in a phenomenological, sensorial sense, as well as more complex meaning. For example, the iconic sign in question could be based on the reader’s awareness and identification of a certain stanzaic or metrical form and some of the acquired associations that comes with it. The contention is that iconicity in verse does not necessarily only stand for ‘objects’ which are already present due to symbolic signs.

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