Organization theory and poetry: A not so elusive link by Naveed Yazdani , Hasan S. Murad and Rana Zamin Abbas (2)


The language of poetry according to P.B. Shelley “is vitally metaphorical; that is, it makes the before unapprehended relations of things and perpetuates their apprehensions”. This means metaphors create new meanings and insights. They are a tool of revitalizing the language. By creating something new, through employing metaphors, the poet also restores something old, ancient and lost (Hirsch, 1999).

In a generalized way, a metaphor is defined as: “a word or expression that is used to talk about an entity or quality other than that referred to by its core or most basic meaning” (Deignan, 2005). It is also said to represent “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or concept that it does not literally denote”(Juhasz, 1974). In Poetics, Aristotle defines metaphor as “the application of a strange term either transferred from the genus and applied to the species, or from the species and applied to the genus, or from one species to another or else, by analogy”.

Metaphor is a literary device in which terms from two different areas of life are brought together in order to achieve a special meaning which goes beyond the ordinary meaning of words or concepts (Abma, 1999).It is also defined as “a set of correspondence between two conceptual domains” (Steen, 2002; Crisp et al., 2002). Conceptual metaphors and image schemas generate the inferences we make using metaphorical conception. For example, falling is an action in which one is out of control. Cognitive poetics would thus, infer that “falling in love will entail being out of control, being excited, and being scared”.

This implies that ‘falling in love’, as compared to being ‘in love’, would be a more emphatic expression because, the one who falls in love is out of control, highly excited and beyond recovery. This abstract and sublime difference between the two categories of love; ‘in love’ and ‘falling in love’ therefore enhances our understanding of the difference in degree of feelings and emotions between the two categories. In the same way body movements play a major role in conveying meaning. We can only understand what a ‘twisted personality’ means if we know the body movement that is being twisted. Similarly ‘standing straight’ and ‘tall’ employ moral uprightness. The true essence of which cannot be inferred unless and until the body movement of standing upright is fully understood.

This means that the meaning is not merely a linguistic phenomenon which is only a matter of words and sentences. Music, painting, architecture and even poetry (if not likened with prose) provide us with something beyond words. They provide us with image schemas or metaphors and exalt them above the pure entertainment value (Johnson, 2007; Schram and Steen, 2001).

According to critical theorists of language, there is hardly any difference between literary and ordinary language. Similarly metaphors are used to convey meanings both in serious literary and ‘idle talk’ sense.

They simply transfer meanings and information. It is however important that a metaphor entails two terms: target and source. For example, if it is said “He was a lion in today’s meeting” here he is the target while lion is the source (Hogan, 2003). The listener will understand that he behaved bravely or aggressively (both qualities of the source or lion in this case) during the meeting.

(Organization theory and poetry: A not so elusive link by Naveed Yazdani, School of Professional Advancement, University of Management and Technology, Lahore. Pakistan. Hasan S. Murad, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. and Rana Zamin Abbas, Organization Theory Center, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. / Accepted 15 September, 2011 African Journal of Business Management Vol. 6(1), pp. 7-13,11 January, 2012 / Available online at

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