Sound as Meaning

  • Masako K. Hiraga


Sound as well as vision has a rich tradition in poetic analysis. It can constitute the form of a poem, offering shape and material. The quality inherent in sounds gives texture to a poem, whereas the pattern of sounds gives it architecture. Sound may not only be essential in terms of its formal qualities, but also important in terms of its intimate relationship with the meaning of a poem. The relationship between sound and meaning in poetry is an extremely close one. For example, Shapiro and Beum have said that usually a poet ‘creates a form that “says” the same thing as the words themselves say’ (1965: 2). This wedding of sound and sense — how sound contributes to complementing the whole experience of a poem — has been the focus of an enormous amount of endeavour in poetic research. Traditionally it has been studied in the field of prosody or metrics.


Diagrammatic Mapping Sound Unit Imagic Iconicity Sound Structure Back Vowel 
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© Masako K. Hiraga 2005

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  • Masako K. Hiraga

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