Chapter published in:Operationalizing Iconicity
Edited by Pamela Perniss, Olga Fischer and Christina Ljungberg
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 17] 2020
► pp. 126–135
On the expressive and iconic value of enjambment from Homer to Milton
Enjambment, the breaking of correspondence between meter and syntax usually employed to avoid the monotony of verse-phrase, is also, in some cases, exploited as an effective stylistic figure to charge the diction with expressiveness at various levels. The aim of my paper is to discuss the iconic expressiveness of enjambment in epic poetry from Homer up to Milton and Tasso. I will analyse in particular the striking type consisting of the postposition of a single word in the next line, before a syntactic pause. This figure, since it introduces a strong pause in reading, seems particularly appropriate to stress significant words or to reinforce iconically the semantics of verbs meaning a sudden, violent action, such as that of falling down or throwing. The ‘chain’ of passages in which the figure is employed with similar stylistic effects in different literatures and languages sheds an important light on the ‘mechanisms’ of intertextuality, clarifying the impact and the contribution of great Poets to the stylistic repertoire of an entire poetic genre.
Published online: 13 May 2020
Austin, R. G.
Conte, G. B.
Gransden, K. W.