emotive railway ticket. I, sender will speak to (contact) the receiver within the usually self determined context of the station. The code is variable, within a number of agreed limitations, so that 'Ticket, return London' would preserve the message, but would deviate sufficiently from the usual locutionary format to indicate impoliteness or urgency on the part of the sender.
For the purposes of this study the first diagram refers principally to the historical, social and cultural contexts of the poem. The three functions of context, contact and code depend largely upon the receiver's role as a competent literary reader, a person sufficiently equipped to recognise invocations and signals that link the text in question to conditions that it shares with other texts. And this role will often be determined by the prevailing interpretive expectations of a particular historical period. The second diagram refers to the intrinsic properties of the text itself and to the more immediate communicative context created by these properties, the latter being variously termed the speech act or the situation of the utterance. The transposition of the sender-receiver relation with emotive and conative effects can be explained in terms of the generally agreed communicative function of poetic language. If I were to ask for my ticket in metre and rhyme I would not necessarily change the meaning of my message, but I would create an incongruous relation between the contact-context codes (practical, utilitarian transparent) and my use of specifically and recognisably poetic devices which would signal a more personal, enclosed circuit in which the emotive (sender oriented) and conative (receiver oriented) elements of the message bind the two presences together in a way that reminds us more of John Donne addressing his lover or Wordsworth imparting his visionary experience to the reader than they do of commuter addressing ticket seller.
Clearly there are patterns of interdependency between these two sets of terms that are far more complex than their diagrammatic separation would lead us to expect. The referential function of 2 and the message of 1 might appear interchangeable, but the former is effectively split between the degree to which the poem can be said to have a paraphasable meaning (the objective of naturalisation) and the way in which the phatic, metalingual and poetic functions enclose this message within the internal patterns of the text. In poetry the least significant of these three functions is the phatic. For example the repetition of 'shut' in the opening line of Pope's 'Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot' is an instance of phatic usage (it emphasises the informality of the exchange). But the phatic utterance in poetry is usually a subsidiary element of more powerful stylistic determinants. These are the metalingual and the poetic. The metalingual function is that which explicitly draws our attention to the fact that the utterance is poetry. For example in The Relique' John Donne refers to 'this paper' in order to remind the reader that the emotive-conative transference is taking place within the artefact of the poem. Jakobson defines the poetic function as something that promotes 'the palpability of signs, deepens the fundamental dichotomy of signs and objects'. In other words, the use of metre, rhyme, sound pattern and the extra-syntactic deployment of lines. The metalingual and the poetic are two sides of the same coin, the former depending largely upon the signifying processes of syntax and semantics and the latter upon the materiality of language. In poetry the one will never remain immune from the other, and their pairing corresponds with my model of the double pattern.
We should now return to the question of why Jakobson distinguishes between these two communicative circuits. I would argue that he does so to draw our attention to the two most important stages in the process of poetic naturalisation. When we interpret, naturalise or demystify a poem we effectively attempt to reconcile the effects created by its intrinsic structural properties (the situation of the utterance, diagram 2) with our much more complex awareness of how this specific poem is similar to or different from others and, more significantly, of how these features correspond with the socially and historically determined conditions of linguistic communication (diagram 1). A number of examples are necessary.
Wordsworth's use of the ballad form in Lyrical Ballads involves, as we shall see in Chapter 4, a disorientating confluence of the intertextual and historical axes, respectively distinguished by diagrams 2 and 1. At the end of the eighteenth century the ballad was an icon of popular culture and consequently the contemporary reader would be uncertain as to whether to give prominence to the context-contact, popular-cultural modes of diagram 1 or whether the intrinsic properties of each ballad should override these broader contextual considerations.
When Culler rewrote Quine's prose as free verse he clearly invoked the poetic-metalingual signal of line divisions and used these to link the 'poem' with the cultural mode (poetry) and its related counterparts in the contact-context modes. In order to do so he drew upon 'real' precedents such as William Carlos Williams's 'This Is Just To Say' whose referential function (it is a note on the kitchen table apologising for eating the plums from the fridge) seems to shift it outside the poetic sphere (to diagram 1), yet whose deployment of line divisions draws the reader back to the poetic and metalingual signals of diagram 2. To further complicate matters, we should also acknowledge that the acceptable designations of the poetic and metalingual functions had changed radically between 1915 and 1975, since many of the early reviewers of free verse poems regarded the unmetrical, unrhymed line as a meaningless echo of its regular counterpart. Consequently they would not have been inclined to recognise the signals of diagram 2 as sufficiently 'palpable' to qualify the text for interpretation as a poem (cultural code, diagram 1) or as capable of promoting the practical, utilitarian contact-context codes to the status of the enclosed and specifically poetic realm of the emotive and conative.
From these examples alone it would seem that any reliable causal relation between the socio-historical axis of diagram 1 and its textual counterpart in diagram 2 is subject to a constantly shifting pattern of terms and conditions. But a framework of stability can be found in the correspondence between the sliding scale and the fluctuations of literary history, and this will be the primary focus of the following chapters. Our working method will consist of a number of interrelated assumptions and emphases. The opposing dimensions of the sliding scale correspond firstly with the constituent elements of the double pattern, in Levin's terms the cognitive and the conventional constituents of the text. These in turn betray allegiances, respectively, to the broader linguistic, historical, social and cultural determinants of diagram 1 and to the internal, intertextual features of diagram 2. Consequently any change in the relationship between these elements must signal a desire on the part of the poet to readdress the conventionally accepted function of the poem. For example the eighteenth-century programme of maintaining a parallel and unitary correspondence between the two elements of the double pattern cannot be fully appreciated without our understanding that this objective was inspired by the trend toward poetry as an accessible and productive contribution to the broader network of social and political discourses. The desire of the Modernists to move poetry away from the dense and self-referential patterns of formal regularity toward a structure which pays closer allegiance to the spontaneous nature of the speech pattern (a shift from the conventional to the cognitive element of the sliding scale) can only be fully understood in relation to the widespread aesthetic articulation of the anxious relationship between the individual and the accelerating institutional, intellectual and political determinism of the early twentieth century. On the sliding scale the archetypal free verse poem foregrounds the specific circumstantial nature of the speech act rather than its deference to stylistic convention.
But we should not forget that to whatever extent the double pattern and the sliding scale are influenced by the overarching patterns of social, political and cultural change, their primary function is to distinguish the reader of the poem, the poem and the poet, from all other functional and structural elements of linguistic discourse. One of the objectives of this book, while respecting the contributions of semiotics, cultural studies and socio-linguistics to the study of literature, is to establish poetry as an independent self-determined sphere in which language, aesthetics, gender distinction, politics and social convention are continuously addressed but in which none of these can displace or marginalise the mysterious yet undeniably tangible function of the poetic.
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