Prosopopoeia as a Cognitive Ekphrastic Activity: A Case from Eighteenth-Century Graveyard Poetry

Nayef Ali Al-Joulan

Abstract


This paper examines the use of prosopopoeia in selected eighteenth-century graveyard poetry, highlighting, through close analysis of William Collins’s “Ode on the Death of Mr. Thompson” and Robert Blair’s “The Grave”, the poetic, visual, and intellectual underpinnings of prosopopoeia. That is, it aims mainly at revealing the cognitive aspects of prosopopoeia with limited employment of textually analyzed verse that is used only to provide an exemplifying background. It turns out that in their use of the personified abstraction, poets, in general, creatively produce poetry that seeks to concretize human visions and passions in a manner that is universally accessible. That is to say, the cognitive is essenced into the visualized and personified. As they personify, poets do not write, nor write about nature, feeling, thought, and man. Rather, they become the means or ways through whom the experiences of nature, feeling, and thought communicate themselves. Above all, such cognitive nature of visual poetry is proposed as motive for inquiries about the overemphasized rift between the humanities and the sciences. Keywords: prosopopoeia; personification; cognition; graveyard poetry; William Collins; Robert Blair

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.css.1923669720100604.003

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