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International Journal of English and Literature (IJEL) ISSN 2249-6912 Vol. 3, Issue 3, Aug 2013, 117-126 Š TJPRC Pvt. Ltd.


PhD Research Scholar, School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia

PhD, Associate Professor, School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia

ABSTRACT This study is designed to investigate and discuss about the fundamental as well as the main characteristics of the poet. In effect, this study is proposed to shed light on what the real meaning of the poet is in terms of its traits. To reach the aim of this study, some of the main subjects, topics, and points which can be related to the goal of article are introduced, explained, and discussed. Afterword, they are followed by a discussion and conclusion. On the whole, this study attempts to identify the characteristics of the poet. For the most part, this article looks at the characteristics which are necessary for the poet. To be more exact, this study is an attempt to inspect and explore the traits which create some one so called a poet, meticulously, in detail, and from a deep view. In addition, this paper tries to investigate in what way poetic language differs from ordinary language.

KEYWORDS: Fundamental and Main Characteristics, Poet, Creative, Thinker, Person, Culture, Language of Poetry. INTRODUCTION Poetry formulates a concentrated or an intense imaginative awareness of experience, chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound and rhythm (Merriam-Webster Online). To put in simple words, poetry is the alteration, modification and change of the ordinary and practical language norms (Shafi'i Kadkani, 1989). However, not everybody can be a poet. To be a poet, necessitates and demands some traits and qualifications. In other words, poets have some specific characteristics. Regarding this fact and as no study has been done about this matter, some literature review is provided about the poet and his fundamental and main characteristics.

POET 1. Poet as a Creative Thinker 1.1 Creative Process The focus of creative process is on causing ideas to exist or occur. While, the most difficult and disputable parts of the creative process deal with bringing ideas into existence, or in other words, turning subjectivity into objective materials. In fact, among all processes, the most influential, powerful and successful process in history is creative process. It is proposed as such here because many of the fields in science, and all of the arts came into existence by the way of creative process. Therefore, the most flourishing and powerful process in the history of civilization is creative process.


Sepideh Moghaddas Jafari & Tengku Sepora Tengku Mahadi

In other words, all developments in any field of science and art, indeed, are indebted to the power of creative process, the power which produces computer, electricity, robotics, television, satellite, modern technologies, painting, poetry, music and so on. 1.2 Creative and Creativity The terms “creativity” and “creative” are usually concerned with the unusual and inventive. According to Webster’s dictionary (1995), creativity means “creative” ability; artistic or intellectual inventiveness”. Correspondingly, the definition of the term creative is the same. The emphasis in these definitions first and foremost is on the ability, or the capacity to create. The second portion of the definition on the other part, proposes inventiveness. Webster (ibid) introduces the word create as “to originate; to bring into being from nothing; to cause to exist”. In other words, when we talk about creating, we are talking about causality-causing something to exist that did not subsist before. As a result, creativity mostly refers to the unusualness and inventiveness. 1.3 Poet as a Thinker People do not think the same. In fact, the thought process of each individual is different from others. Most of people put their thoughts into words but some do not. Writing poetry is, indeed, the activity which necessitates the poet to have special conditions, capability, aptitude and particular extraordinary “talent qualifications of ear, vision, imagination, memory and so on” (Spender, 1952, p. 112). He should be able to form his thought in images and “he should have as great a mastery of language as a painter has over his palate” (ibid). In fact, the poet is a kind of thinker who forms an idea or an imagination in his mind and when it is complete he follows the same procedure as other thinkers, s/he writes it down, then s/he transfers it from a pure idea or imagination to symbols and alphabet on the paper. When the poet as a thinker expresses a thought or an idea, then the language changes the shape, appearance, quality or better to say, the nature of that thought which the reader, listener and, on the whole, the sharer of the thought and idea, must strive to understand as much and as clearly as possible. Taking all mentioned points and many others into consideration, we come to the conclusion that the poet is a creative thinker who has a special talent and capability and creates an inspiration or imagination in his mind. Subsequently, he demonstrates this pure imagination or idea through symbols, signs and alphabet. 2. Poet as a Person The poet must be approved as a person by the society which receives his/her idea. In other words, the poet must be heard and discovered. If the poet has a low status in the society then that poet may not also be heard at his/her living time and his/her idea or more precisely, his/her voice may be heard afterwards, in some future time. Generally speaking, as a reality being seen in many societies, people like: slaves, working class, prisoners and some times women were members of this group whose voices could not be heard maybe until some later time. In reality, the voices and ideas of the writers who are heard, shape the knowledge of a society. The mentioned people, who were not heard, perhaps would be heard some later time in the future and their voices, thoughts and ideas would be spread and passed on to other people living in other times or centuries, or even other countries

The Fundamental and Main Characteristics of the Poet and the Language of Poetry


and cultures by translators. Buber (1958), on the other hand, says that in all relationships among people, a person’s full identity must be discovered and approved and his unity must be declared positively. Accordingly, in any system there is a hierarchy of power, and the populaces and groups at the bottom of the hierarchy do not have the same rights and privileges as the people existing at the top of the hierarchy. Thus, they do not have equal chances in any field. Once the system has been regulated owing to a radical or a new change, it still takes a very long time and even generations to adapt the system to replicate the changed poise of power in any field. The term person and personhood is defined in accordance with the conventional and customary power constitution and configuration of the State. Some times in the history of countries, the situation of society are ruled based on social classes. In other words, some groups of people are acknowledged while some other groups like the poor, slave and prisoner are denied and rejected. In this sense, indeed, class determines personhood. For instance, in a patriarchy system like Rousseau’s (1979), women had no voice. The poet can also be considered as a person with some background from the society and culture of his time, country and place.

3. Poet as a Culture 3.1 Definitions of Culture Culture As Roohul-Amini (1989) believes "Culture has multifarious meanings. Culture meant farming" (p. 15). It has different subdivisions as rural culture, urban culture, American culture and so on. Today, in every field, in humanities, every research necessitates a general view of culture. It is employed in archaeology, linguistics, history, psychology, sociology and etc. It is even said that man is an animal with culture. To be exact, the factor which distinguishes or discriminates the human being's behaviour from the behaviour of animal is culture (MesbaheYazdi, 2005). In general, from the sociological standpoint, culture is the total of the inherited and intrinsic ideas, attitudes, beliefs, values, and knowledge, comprising or forming the shared underpinnings of social action. Likewise, from the anthropological and ethnological senses, culture covers the entire assortment of activities and ideas of a specific group of people with common and shared traditions, which are conveyed, disseminated, and highlighted by members of the group (Collins English Dictionary 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003). There are about two or three hundred and even more descriptions for culture. With respect to the definition of culture, Edward Sapir (1929, 1949, 1956, 1961, 1985) says that culture is a system of behaviours and modes that fall back on unconsciousness. Rocher (1972, 2004), an anthropologist, believes that “Culture is a connection of ideas and feelings accepted by the majority of people in a society” (p. 142). In other words, “Culture is an acceptance of behaviours”, asserts Mead (1935, 1950, 1963, 1968, 1988, 2001), “that individuals transport to their children” (p.29). Incontrovertibly, culture is learned and shared within social groups and is passed on by nongenetic ways (The American Heritage, Science Dictionary 2005). Taylor (1974) says that culture in a complex definition consists of beliefs, arts, skills, moralities, laws, traditions and behaviours that an individual, as a member of a society, gets from his own society. Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952), consider civilization and culture the same and they believe the two terms have been used tantamount. For them, they both indicate different levels of the same subject. Civilization indicates the great development of a civilized society; culture indicates the same subject too (ibid). Each society has its own special culture either simple or complex. If culture is taken seriously, it seems that people require not only sufficient food but also well-


Sepideh Moghaddas Jafari & Tengku Sepora Tengku Mahadi

cooked food. Goodenough (1996) claims that culture is a systematic association of people that have a certain way of life. Correspondingly, Herskovits (1967) says that culture is a methodical relationship and an orderly organization of people that have a certain way of life. Therefore, culture is the only distinction between human and animals. Of course, animals live in association but it is a special kind. There are, indeed, a lot of sharing characteristics between human beings and animals such as associative life, responsibility toward children and so on. But culture is for men, only. T. S. Eliot (1961) considers culture as a capital and means for developing all cultures and knowledge in order to dismiss all human sharing problems, for helping economical steadiness and political security. Spencer (1986) calls culture the setting of super organic and highlights the parting of culture from physical and natural factors. He believes that the super organic factor is only for man, while; the other two factors are the same for man and animal. And finally, Streets (1993) introduces culture as follows: In fact, there is not much point in trying to say what culture is. What can be done, however, is to say what culture does. For what culture does is precisely the work of defining words, ideas, things and groups. We all live our lives in terms of definition, names and categories that culture creates. The job of studying culture is not of finding and then accepting its definitions but of discovering how and what definitions are made, under what circumstances and for what reasons. . . . Culture is an active process of meaning making and contest over definition, including its own definition. This, then, is what I mean by arguing that Culture is a verb (p. 25). 3.2 Elements of Culture Each individual is in the possession of or the member of a special group. He reflects his own special thought and culture. It is easy to put him in his group and discriminate him from the others. For example, language of a child is different from the language of an adult or the people in the North speak differently from the people in the South or the language of the poor is different from the language of the rich, even their clothes are different. Elements such as language, rituals, clothes, science, beliefs and values link, join and attach people together (Roohul-Amini, 1989). Culture is learnt through relation with other people. In view of that, culture is not natural, inherited, inbred, and will-less. In effect, culture is a social artifact and invention. Some issues are significant and momentous in this transmission such as information and knowledge in a society, social changes, social relations and mass media. Accordingly, culture spreads and passes on generation by generation, the elements are carried from one place to another place, it is divided into some sub-cultures and it is in conclusion the victim of crises. Words are the most noteworthy and important instruments of cultural symbols. That is to say, poems, stories, fictions, epics and myths are the main components and constituents of a culture in a society. Myth, Levis Strauss (1976) claims, in a language expresses worldwide realities in symbols. Overall, the elements of culture are the sum of socially conveyed and common behavior patterns, prototypes, samples, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other artifacts of human work and thought.

DISCUSSION In the previous sections, some background information about three of the fundamental characteristics of the poet were introduced and discussed. In addition, the author went through clarifying some information as well as discussion

The Fundamental and Main Characteristics of the Poet and the Language of Poetry


about the definition of culture and the elements of culture. The following part discusses about and clarifies in more details this matter that how the mentioned characteristics create some one called poet and how the poetic language differs from the ordinary language. Accordingly, now it is good to scrutinize and inspect how the mentioned traits deal with poet, from deeper view. As Nilsen (2002) believes, “Language and society are as intertwined as chicken and egg. The language that a culture uses is telltale evidence of the values and beliefs of that culture.” It is believed that the most crucial and pressing challenge facing humanity is the expansion and progress of new forms of society and social organizations. In effect, communities or societies may be designated, defined, and described by their culture. Concerning this fact, Rosaldo (1989) declares that culture “refers broadly to the forms through which people make sense of their lives.” These forms comprise everything from the dialect or language people speak to the way they consume their food, construct and shape their homes, instruct their children, treat guests, communicate with foreigners, define gender and sexual roles, tell stories, or write essays. The association or correlation between language and culture is unequivocally and overtly argued in Kramsch’s Language and Culture (1998). In this sense, Kramsch (1998) claims that the process that language and culture enact on nature epitomizes or is a symbol of numerous shapes of socialization or acculturation.She further states that etiquette, politeness, and social manners are some ways in which language, or norms of communication, form part of the daily customs inflicted by culture on language users. This is culture’s way of bringing arrangement, course, track, and expectedness into people’s employment of language (Kramsch, ibid). Correspondingly, Holeton (1995) mentions that the language people use is in connection with their identity as an individual and asa member of a cultural group. That is to say, how we view the relationship between our language and our culture regulates and governs the way we communicate with others. To scrutinize, inspect or broadly put, to look at one’s language, consequently, is also to scrutinize, inspect or to look at his/her values, norms, and standards. Language, as some scholars believe, is not only one cultural attribute and trait, but rather it is a direct expression of a people's national character. In this case for instance, Herder (Quoted in Anderson, 1983) states that "Denn jedes Volk ist Volk; es hat seine National Bildung wie sein Sprache" (Since every people is a People, it has its own national culture expressed through its own language). Consequently, culture of a people is largely constructed, shared and maintained through the use of language. That is to say, understanding the language of a group is the means to understanding its culture. Accordingly, in this sense (in the case of the poet), understanding the language of a poet is the key to understanding his culture. Concerning the mentioned points indicating the relationship between language and culture, Whorf (1941) believes that the habitual patterns of speaking and thinking in a specific language may influence the culture of the linguistic group. He further claims that there is the interconnectedness between language and culture. The rationale behind this interconnectedness is that "they have grown up together" (Ibid, p. 293). Concerning this relationship Sapir (1929, 1949, 1956, 1961, 1985) declares: Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially


Sepideh Moghaddas Jafari & Tengku Sepora Tengku Mahadi

without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies lie are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached (p. 162). It goes without saying that language is the medium of poetry. Outside of poetry men communicate with each other by verbal as well as nonverbal devices; indeed, language is one of the media for communication. In poetry, however, communication takes place soley through language. Although, as will be discussed, the nature of the poet's communicative act may differ widely from that of the other human beings. Also the type of information we get from poetry may seem quite strange in contrast to the information we get in ordinary communicative acts. However, it is just through language that poetry comes into being. To express the relation between the two, one may note Ronald Barthes' essay, "Science Versus Literature" and his remark that "Language is Litereture's Being. Its very world." (Newton, et al., 1991. p. 140). But the case is not so simple as we may often think. Being an art, poetry uses language as an artistic medium; and the artistry of poetry lies in its way of treating language. No doubt, of course, that every poet is a member of a speechcommunity and the language he uses is also used by other members, human beings who understand each other's speech and communicate their own needs through speech. Both when speaking and writing, they choose the available items of the language of their speech-community. Moreover, one must undoubtedly accept the fact that language is a very complex phenomenon and posses innumerable potentialities, one of which being its ordinary communicativeness with which every one deals. But there are in language thousands of other potentialities often left untouched, which may be sometimes discovered by accident, but most of the time by the poet's knowledge and experience (Shafi'i Kadkani, 1989, p.264). This is because the poet chooses and manipulates the constituents of language with greater care and complexity than the average member of his speechcommunity can or wishes to exercise. Along with that, because the poet makes use of all the resources of language most fully and most precisely, he makes something different out of the so-called ordinary language. A question may follow as to in what way does poetic language differ from ordinary language. Does the distinction lie in the mere adornment of ordinary language? In fact the answer covers more than that: the poet uses language creatively. He searches through all the given facts of ordinary language, rearranges and modifies the elements of ordinary language, and creates sequences and combinations which do not yield to our customary grasp and our stock perception (Frank Lentricchia, 1983. p. 222). The poet, in Shklovsky’s term, “defamiliarizes” ordinary language, with which we are overtly familiar and habituated, and we thus use it automatically. In this way the poet makes us look at language in new ways, and perceive those properties of language which were previously left unexploited, as Shklovsky discusses in his essay, “Art as Technique” (Newton, ed., 1991, p. 24). The poet does not handle language in the same way as we do: plainly, frankly and without any expressive force. This point is explained in Roman Jakobson's remarkable essay "Linguistics and Poetics" (Thomas A. Sebeok, ed., 1960), in which he discusses the different functions of language. One conclusion that may be made from his discussion is that for the poet, the poetic function of language is of prime importance, much more so than its communicative function. This does not

The Fundamental and Main Characteristics of the Poet and the Language of Poetry


mean, however, that poetic language has no communicative purpose. Actually this compels us not to regard poetic language so simple and easy as ordinary language, but to think of a poem -- a good poem -- as a complex, difficult, and demanding piece of language, and to be ready, in dealing with a good poem, to notice even the smallest and the least important bits of language, either in written or spoken form. True, it is difficult -- and indeed very difficult. Nevertheless, the poet is not a creature from another planet, whose system of communication is totally unintelligible to us. He is one of us, and he uses the same language for communication. Therefore, "a poem is wrought from materials which we and the poet share." to quote Roger Fowler (1971, p.17). Thus, however extreme its deviation from ordinary language may be, there is nevertheless "an intelligible world of decipherable meaning and structure." Clive T. Probyn (1984, p. 11) positively asserts. So it is not impossible at all to get at the meaning of a poem. Yet, as it was discussed above, a good poem generally does not yield itself easily and readily to us. On the contrary, it is we who, mistaking the poem for an ordinary piece of language, fail to perceive what is communicated to us. Even worse than that: we have become so accustomed to the every-day and standardized waves of using language that we hardly think that there are in fact many other ways of using language. We must confess that we are badly mistaken here, and that to our primitive ancestors poetic language was not alien at all. As a matter of fact, having moved away from our primitive ancestors we have also moved language further away from its primitive and natural state. Of course, this does not mean that the language we use today has lost its power, and that its communicative range has diminished. Not at all. In fact it is we who use just a limited number of the resources of our language. Still worse, in dealing with either speech or writing, we use just one sense: with speech we use just our hearing, and with writing, just our sight, and, this seems quite normal to us. The poet, however, does not look at language in this way, and does not treat it as we do. In handling language, he is most aware, most careful, most proficient, and most creative. To him every resource of language, no matter how unimportant and useless it may seem to us, is of utmost importance and use. He sees language in all its aspects and with all its resources. Further, he does not confine himself to just one sense. In dealing with language in his poems, all of his senses cooperate, and each sense affects and is affected by the other senses. In addition to his senses, the poet puts to work his other faculties. Indeed, through simultaneous cooperation of all of them, he creates new spheres of meaning in his poems. How can we, users of language in its every-day manner, after all find our way to these new spheres of meaning? All of us agree that the poet, in dealing with every aspect of life, is much more sensitive than we are. Besides, many of us often admit that poets are gifted with inspiration and acute intuition. These characteristics help the poet make utmost use of language or whatever else he is dealing with. Yet, none of these eliminate the possibility of our understanding his poems and finding their meanings. Of course it is difficult, because we have grown lazy and our senses and faculties have grown dull. In this case of language, they most often cannot cooperate with each other.

CONCLUSION After a concise discussion about the different characteristics of poet, briefly put, the term of poet is an abstract, and widely used concept which signifies a particular person with a great deal of inspiration, ingenuity, and creativity. In fact, as mentioned and presented above in details, poet is a person from a specific culture who owns creative thinking. In a few words, poet is a creative thinker with some particular back ground information that belongs to a


Sepideh Moghaddas Jafari & Tengku Sepora Tengku Mahadi

specific community. Concerning what was discussed up till now, we can come to the conclusion that poet is a creative person with some background from his culture which influence and affect his poetry.


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