Research on deliberate metaphor has suggested that novel metaphors will typically be deliberate whereas conventional metaphors are not, although this does not mean that all conventional metaphor is necessarily non-deliberate (Steen 2010). This paper will shift the focus to poetic metaphor (i.e., metaphor attested in poetic discourse), aiming to explore its relationship with deliberateness. It will show that poetic metaphors are typically novel in linguistic and conceptual terms, nevertheless they can also be conventional; for example, conventionalized metaphorical expressions that are endowed with a novel, enriched meaning by virtue of the linguistic context and/or the textual pattern in which they are embedded (cf. revitalization; Müller 2008). Whether conventional or novel, however, poetic metaphors are deliberate; they are intended to be processed metaphorically, inviting the reader/hearer to opportunistically switch to another conceptual domain in terms of which to conceive the target of the metaphor. This finding has important implications for metaphor research in that (a) it emphasizes the need to account for the role of genre in deliberate metaphor (see Steen 2013); and (b) it entails that poetic metaphors can be viewed as a unified category in terms of deliberateness, notwithstanding their diversity at the linguistic and conceptual level. In methodological terms, the analysis is based on a small, specialized corpus of Modern Greek poetry containing poetic metaphors of time.



Müller, C. (2008). Metaphors dead and alive, sleep and waking. London: University of Chicago Press.

Steen, G. J. (2010). “When is metaphor deliberate?”. In Johannesson, N.-L., Alm-Arvious, C. & Minugh, D. C. (eds.), Selected papers from the Stockholm 2008 Metaphor Fetsival (Stockholm Studies in English), pp. 43-63. Stockholm: University of Stockholm.

Steen, G. J. (2013). “Deliberate metaphor affords conscious metaphorical cognition”. In Journal of Cognitive Semiotics 5(1-2): 179-197.