poetic license

Discussion in 'English Only' started by meili, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. What does it really mean?
    Thanks!
     
  2. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    A poetic license is a metaphoric expression. There is no such piece of paper that say, "Poetic license". A poetic license gives an artist the priviledge of breaking rules for the sake of art.

    A song writer may say something that is gramatically incorrect, but sounds poetic. He is exercising his poetic license. A poetic license allows artists to break rules.

    Is this a little clearer? . . . .
     
  3. Yes, Venus! :) As always! You are the first to answer my question.
    So it is like: It don't matter to me by da Fonz.
    :D
    When is it correct to identify a phrase or an expression as having the poetic license?
     
  4. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    I knew you were thinking of that one! Yes. :)

    It is called a poetic license because (I believe) poets use it the most! If you'll notice in some poetry/lyrics, the writer doesn't have to follow the rules of grammar all of the time. Because he/she is a poet, they are allowed to break the rules.


    Let me know if you have more doubts...


    I'll give you an example.

    There is a singer/song writer named Jewel. In one of her poems/lyrics, she writes, "And thoughtlessness with such casuality." But, the word correct word should have been "casualness". Even though "casuality" was wrong, she's allowed to make that mistake because she exercised her poetic license.
    Even though it was the wrong word, it rhymed with the previous word.


    Does this help at all?
     
  5. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    Originally, the freedom to play around with language, to twist things and break rules in order to make something seem more interesting, beautiful, frightening, sublime or whatever. It refers to changing word order, syntax, spelling in order to express an idea that would be lost in normal prose. It also refers to the use of unusual vocabulary to create effect. According to Dryden, it is 'the liberty which poets have assumed to themselves in all ages, of speaking things in verse, which are beyond the severity of prose'.

    These days it's often used to mean distortion or exaggeration (ironically, I guess).

    For examples, try someone like Gerard Manley Hopkins (eg The Windhover).
     
  6. Yes, Nicole! It did helped a lot!
    I know of poetic license as that - it's just that sometimes I do not know if I am distinguishing it correctly. :D (Oh I hope I am not making no nonsense here, jeje).

    It is like a song that we have around here:
    The day you said goodnight.. You lose the side of your circles...

    When I write, I also actually assume this license upon me. :)

    Very well, Aupick. Thanks! :thumbsup:
     
  7. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Just for the sake of those learning English:

     
  8. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Hi Venus

    I don't think I agree with you here. I call this artistic laziness!! Poetic license is just an excuse here - I'm sure Jewel could have come up with a word with its proper meaning which also rhymed if she had really tried.

    A better (in my opinion;) ) example of poetic license would be something like "her legs were blond with running" (I forget where I read that**) where her legs are described as blond but what is really meant is the whitish blur her legs make because she is running so fast. Another "the trees hedgehogged across the countryside" - "to hedgehog" is not a verb, but the meaning is clear - the trees were ranged like hedgehog spines across the countryside. That to my mind is clever poetic license (eg a deliberate stylistic device that we would not use in everyday language, as opposed to misusing a word just because it rhymes!!)

    That's my two cents.:)

    **EDIT - it's William Faulkner: Sanctuary - See if you can match the other quotes http://www.playbackstl.com/Current/SH/lsq1.htm
     
  9. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    Is someone correcting me? Oh, how did I know it would be you? :rolleyes:

    Any coments on this poetic lisence, discussion?
     
  10. jacinta Senior Member

    California
    USA English
    license :)

    I have to agree with Tim on this one. There is a difference between poetic license and grammar abuse (or verbal abuse). Poetic license is used to change the way something is said in normal speech or writing to suit the wants of the writer, to take a saying that has been used for ages in the same way (I'm not going to try to find one now) and write it in a different way, to produce a comic effect or give it a new life somehow. It is changing the norms to add individuality.

    "It don't matter to me" is slang, not poetic license.
     
  11. jacinta Senior Member

    California
    USA English
    I see that Venus was being deliberate in her misspellings. Sorry.
     
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Sorry if I have missed a comment on this on the way through.
    But this is the first time I have seen poetic licence with an article, definite or indefinite; it is the first time I have seen poetic licence associated with an owner.

    You may talk of someone exercising poetic licence, but not her poetic licence.

    It's as if this gentle tolerance of apparent error for the greater glory of literature is a collective permission, a universal consent that the conventions of grammar are less important than art. It is singular and plural; it is mine and it is yours; it is everyone's and it is no-one's. It takes no articles, it takes no possessives.

    I can't, for the moment, think of anything else that has these characteristics.

    Did anyone else choke a little at "a poetic licence", "her poetic licence", or "the poetic licence"?
     
  13. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    No, I must say I didn't remark upon this usage at all when I read the posts above. Now you point it out I think that just "poetic license" is probably better, by "his poetic license" etc doesn't shock me.
     
  14. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Well, Miss Envy, with so many typos, really you have to laugh! I've done the same thing, and it's important to realize that it was only a correction of a specific post, not a comment on a personality. (Out of curiosity, why do you tend to place periods after quotation marks?)

    My opinion is different from yours on the definition of poetic license. I didn't speak up about it because I had a feeling you would say, "I knew you wouldn't agree...!" ;)

    To me, someone who uses poetic license is someone well-versed in the English language and deliberately uses words in an artistic sense to convey a specific image. Personally, I would look to writers like Ernest Hemingway or Shakespeare for examples of employing poetic license rather than pop stars who, most likely, are not well-educated. As for a good example of poetic license, I'm afraid nothing comes to mind at the moment. However, I think Tim's example was an excellent one.
     
  15. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Panjandrum, it's also possible that his poetic license is really a shortened (colloquial) form of his use of poetic license.

    E.g. I didn't understand the author's poetic license in stanza three.

    I didn't understand the author's (use of) poetic license in stanza three.
     
  16. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Oh.
    It's a lost cause then.
     
  17. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    I found an interesting quote on the web:


    Many of us are in the habit of fracturing the English language and hollering "Poetic License!" when brought to our attention. No deal. We can move things around, stick adjectives behind nouns, and perform a variety of acrobatic movements with our words and phrases that we wouldn't do in normal conversation, make up new words if we want, á la Ogden Nash, but grammatical laws are grammatical laws. Bending them is poetic license... breaking them is just poetry badly done.

    Source: http://poetry-magazine.com/poetry/poetry-002/04page.htm
     
  18. modgirl Senior Member

    USA English, French, Russian
    Also, from a column by Marilyn vos Savant, the person who holds the world record for the highest IQ:

    If a grammatical construction is an example of poetic license, you shouldn’t even notice it. If you do, and it still looks just right, it’s poetic license. On the other hand, if the construction looks like an error, it’s an error.

    Source: http://archive.parade.com/2005/0410/0410_askmarilyn.html
     
  19. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I think you're right, Panj, but the possessive personal pronoun slips by for me-- "a poetic license" is enough to set my teeth on edge. You can't even teach the writing of that stuff-- the image of some bureaucrat handing out permits is beyond obnoxious. Next they'll be selling TV "personalities" bleep exemptions so their ordinary speech can be heard uninterrupted-- a mass-media era's version of the Papal Indulgence, if you will.

    Other expressions that come to mind are noblesse oblige and "squatters' rights"-- no definite article, but "exercising their squatters' rights" wouldn't be unheard-of. In AE we say "I've got dibs on that," meaning I stake a claim on it. That one would definitely not be comfortable with a my, much less an article.

    I don't know why Franglais is so resident in my cerebral cortex right now, but carte blanche occurs to me as another example.

    And here are a couple that're idiomatically inverse, in that they are impossible without an indefinite article-- "a blank check" and "a woman's prerogative."
     
  20. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks ffb - those are great suggestions, some of them:)
    So we have a developing list:
    poetic licence
    noblesse oblige
    carte blanche
    squatters' rights

    I was a bit iffy about the squatters' rights...but no, I've just listened to myself and I sound really odd saying "...their squatters' rights..."
    I can't bring myself to include dibs:eek:, sorry, but for the AE edition that would be fine:)
    Is there a big long complicated name for things like this? ...I mean, one that someone else might recognise:D
     
  21. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    doctor-patient privilege
    judicial discretion
    beginner's luck
    diplomatic immunity
    lifetime tenure

    Can't think of a difinitive category for expressions of this sort. Must be something old as the runes, though-- they all have to do with power of the sort that doesn't brook abridgment.
     
  22. Amityville

    Amityville Senior Member

    France
    English UK
    Will you accept 'first refusal', Panja ? (in a way it is 'dibs')

    There are a couple of AEisms I thought of which do take an article but seem to belong more to the poetic licence group than the bureaucratic one, ie 'the fifth amendment' and 'a raincheck', in the sense that they are used loosely or figuratively.Maybe because they haven't yet gained a place in the collective consciousness independent of their specific beginnings.

    Squatters' rights are the stumbling block to the shadow of an idea there - human rights, conjugal rights, rights of way etc can all be singular or have a article/possessive and usually do but squatters' rights are up there with carte blanche.
     
  23. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks for more guys - and in English too. I'm feeling a lot less insecure about the poetic licence thing now.
    This notion, and finding the generalised character of it and the name for it, seems to need some boiling down. I feel there is something lurking just over the edge of consciousness.
     
  24. alain larochelle

    alain larochelle Senior Member

    Montréal
    Québec, francophone
    I guess it'don't and ain't can be called poetic licenses, but are vernacular, not literary. And indeed poetic license is not a diploma.!So i'd say: -Life is good is now and then is free.
     
  25. Sorry to be interrupting this regular programming with poetic license having an owner, but, is it licence or license?
    Oh well, guess they are just the same. (?) :D
     
  26. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    It's licence in British English and license in American English. (Gotta be different, just gotta be different...)
     
  27. jeje.. Okay Aupick. Thanks. (I have never paid too much attention to the difference between BE and AE. I just thought that, well, they are the same, English).

    Now, let's go back to the regular programming.. tut tut.
     
  28. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    poetic licence
    noblesse oblige

    carte blanche
    squatters' rights
    doctor-patient privilege
    judicial discretion
    beginner's luck
    diplomatic immunity
    lifetime tenure

    The characteristics of the things in this list are:
    1. They don't seem to fit with a definite or indefinite article;
    2. Whether apparently singular or plural, they don't like changing to the other;
    3. They don't seem to like to be owned - don't fit with a possessive (not sure about some at the end of the list).

    :confused: I'm beginning to think this is just a curious phenomenon with no particular name of its own.:confused:
     
  29. Amityville

    Amityville Senior Member

    France
    English UK
    Hmmmm.I don't think it's a linguistic question, it's something else


    The first three (possibly four) plus 'common decency', 'public opinion' and no doubt others are nebulous abstractions, and for that reason don't take an article or possessive.

    The others on the list can take a possessive can't they ? - 'his diplomatic immunity allowed him to escape with a warning'.'his lifetime tenure of the apartment was brought into question by blah.' 'Mr Justice Popplethwaite used his judicial discretion', it is just not necessary most of the time.
    Even illnesses behave like this - often you wouldn't use an article/possessive - 'Appendicitis can be very painful'.' His pains were due to undiagnosed appendicitis' but other times you would 'His appendicits was giving him grief.'

    I do really like that list though.
     
  30. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Divine right
    Papal infallibility

    Lese majesté fits the mold but seems to invert the paradigm of special rights or privileges. Now it occurs to me that one person did have such a "right" in late-Medieval/Renaissance times-- the court fool. He was empowered to say things nobody else dared, and to punish him was a serious breach, showing weakness in a monarch.
     
  31. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    poetic licence
    noblesse oblige
    carte blanche

    squatters' rights
    doctor-patient privilege
    beginner's luck
    common decency

    public opinion
    papal infallibility
    lese majesté

    judicial discretion
    diplomatic immunity
    lifetime tenure
    divine right

    diseases and afflictions (various)


    Such perverse eccentricity - the thread runs from poetic licence to syphilis.

    I give up on the list, there are clearly quite a lot of these things, whatever they are.
     

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