Bidirectionality in poetic metaphor: William Carlos Williams and Imagist poetry

C Goodblatt, J. Glicksohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bidirectionality is derived from an Interaction Theory of Metaphor. The claim is that the two terms of a metaphor entail a reciprocal, bidirectional relationship, and not just one in which the primary subject is viewed unidirectionally in terms of the secondary subject. Interaction Theory considers three possibilities: (1) a blending of the two subjects of the metaphor; (2) each unidirectional reading exists separately; (3) a shifting between these two unidirectional readings resulting in a bidirectional reading. We propose that the existence of highly grotesque imagery in a poem either results in an unstable blend or prevents blending. We consider three poetic texts: "Oread", by the poet H.D.; and "Arrival" and "Fertile", by the poet William Carlos Williams. We provide support for bidirectionality using several lines of evidence: different unidirectional readings of these texts; a reading that indicates a blend; and the alternation of a unidirectional reading with its reciprocal reading.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)93-110
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


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