Archive | March 2016

Metaphor in the Adult World

Adults who read metaphor see examples of comparison and morals to understand the unknown.

“My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree. . .

We didn’t breathe. We didn’t hope. We waited.

. . .And now it looks like Joe is mad. Louis is penetrating every block.

 . .The fight is all over, ladies and gentlemen. . . Here he is. . . The winnah and still heavyweight champeen of the world. . .Joe Louis.”

—“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, Maya Angelou

A black child tells the story of her life from the ages of four to seventeen in a book I could not put down and just quoted. Maya’s story of suffering and oppression triumphs in the end because her spirit and courage will her to achievement. Her people were born into a life they didn’t have a say in. The image of the caged bird physically oppressed yet spiritually free was her way of using comparison to the black people of her time.

No other president in our history gave us a figure of speech as elegant as Lincoln did to strengthen us in grief. It was our engagement in a great civil war, the outcome of which was yet to be known. The battle was at midpoint when he dedicated the national cemetery at Gettysburg. His speech challenged the divided nation to see that

“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract . . . It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”

“The unfinished work” of unity was Lincoln’s way of inspiring us to believe that we could heal.

The last lesson of metaphor is to understand the unknown. Jesus taught this through comparison in His Sermon on the Plain. By comparing the kingdom of God to a small seed growing tall, a lost pearl found, a wedding and a poor widow giving all of her money, Jesus used the human experience for us to understand this concept.

Metaphor began as lessons for children and follows as lessons in the adult world.

Next time, we’ll compare modern stories to classic stories.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.

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Examples of Metaphor

“The Red Flower [fire]?” said Mowgli. “That grows outside their huts in the twilight. I will get some.” There speaks the man’s cub,” said Bagheera proudly. “Remember that it grows in little pots. Get one swiftly, and keep it by thee for time of need. “Good!” said Mowgli. “I go. But art thou sure, O my Bagheera”–he slipped his arm around the splendid neck and looked deep into the big eyes–“art thou sure that all this is Shere Khan’s doing?” By the Broken Lock that freed me, I am sure, Little Brother.” “Then, by the Bull that bought me, I will pay Shere Khan full tale for this, and it may be a little over,” said Mowgli, and he bounded away.

—“The Jungle Book”, Rudyard Kipling

I’d like to present three examples of metaphor: from an out-of-this-world visitor to a bird that visits to sing its song when we need it the most to someone you thought you’d never see again.

. . .“Come and play with me,” proposed the little prince. “I am so unhappy.”

“I cannot play with you,” the fox said. “I am not tamed.

“What does it mean—tame?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”. . .”If you tame me, then we shall need each other. . .”
The fox gazed at the little prince for a long time. “Please—tame me!”

So the little prince tamed the fox.

“Go and look again at the roses…Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret. . .”  “Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. . .” “You become responsible,  forever,  for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose. . .”

“I am responsible for my rose” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

—“The Little Prince”, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

What a beautiful lesson the little prince learns! How poetic of the fox to teach us that to tame is to love. We are bound to what we love all our lives.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

—“Hope”, Emily Dickenson

 And what does the bird represent? Hope! It stays in our soul even in the darkest moment, keeping it warm. Thank you, Emily, for your vision. It gives us strength.

. . .I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. The father said to his servants, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, for my son was dead, and he is alive again; he was lost, and is found. . .”

—“The Prodigal Son”, Luke 15:11-32

Here the lesson is that the son went off, “dead” and changed his heart and became “alive”. The love the son had for his father finally overcame his pride. You would have to love someone to say you’re sorry. I’d say he was tamed, won’t you?

Next time, we’ll see metaphor in the adult world. Thank you for visiting.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.

Why Connect?

I am writing this post when in walks Edward Bear. He climbs up the sofa, putting a sticky paw on my shoulder and peering over watches me write. I turn to him.

“Hallo”

“Hallo,” he replies. “What are you doing?”

“I am starting to write some thoughts and you are in them.”

“Am I?” said Bear.

“You are always in my thoughts, Pooh, ever since I met you long ago.”

“So what thoughts are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking of the time you ate too much at Rabbit’s. You were stuck for a week in his hole. You were sad then because you were stuck and you could not eat. Christopher Robin said he would read to you as you waited to get thin. You asked that he read a Book to Sustain you.”

“I did. It was such a Help and Comfort.”

“That’s a really good idea,” I continued, “to read books. They sustain me all the time.”

And I went on, “And I’m thinking of the time you found Eeyore’s tail and gave it back to him and the time you rescued Piglet in the flood. You are a Very Helpful Bear.”

Pooh looked down. “I try wherever I can,” he said.

I look at him with great fondness.

“I do love you, Bear. Please visit again soon.”

“I will,” said Pooh. And off he stumped out my door.

A visit with Pooh is a special event. He is a connection to my past. I read his stories to my children, stories that were a source of emotional warmth and joy for all of us.

Classic stories show us how to connect. Metaphor connects us between the familiar and the new helping us understand concepts we haven’t thought of before. And understanding, according to the writings of Dorothy Corkille Briggs, is the language of love. Metaphor, the most common figure of speech, is seen with Pooh when he uses an umbrella as a boat to save Piglet in the flood.

In stories, we see the connection when the prince uses Rapunzel’s hair as a ladder; we hear the connection when Horton Hears a Who! and we feel the connection when we read Who Has Seen the Wind?

Next week we’ll see more examples of metaphor.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.