In his address Education by Poetry given at Amherst College in 1930, Robert Frost introduces the two roles of poetry in education. The first role is that through poetry we cultivate our taste. The second role, which is said to be more crucial, is that poetry teaches us how to discern and understand metaphor in our life. Having read that poetry helps us with our handling metaphor, I naturally reached one simple question. Why is it important to have an ability to identify and comprehend metaphor in our life? In the next paragraph, I would like to give my answer to this very question, simultaneously demonstrating Frosts view point on the importance of the ability. Then, in the third paragraph, from my viewpoint on metaphor, I would like to go further deeper to examining the strengths and weaknesses of one metaphor.
To show why it is important to recognize metaphor in our life, the connection between metaphor and thinking on which Frost sheds fresh light in his address is the key. In general, metaphor is a word or phrase used to describe something or somebody else. More specifically, metaphor expresses one thing in terms of another, therefore creating relative values and a certain association between them. According to Frost, this conception of metaphor is the same as that of thinking. To think of one object is to explain that object in terms of another object, and so is to think of a person, an event, and so on. Hence, an amazing thought, which Frost similarly reasons, can be reasoned; metaphor binds everything in this world together.
For when you think of something, you are associating it with other thing, which means creating a metaphor, and this applies to all objects, persons, and events that have been recognized in the world. In other words, we construct the world in the form of collection of metaphors. In the world full of metaphor, why can it be petty to handle metaphor well? To correctly understand relative values and kinds of associations among metaphors in the world, to discern metaphor in our life, is vital because, as Frost also implies, accurate understanding and recognition of metaphor mean correct conception of the world around us and, thus, our safety.
In this paragraph, I would like to examine one metaphor, especially its strengths and weaknesses, from my viewpoint on metaphor. As explained in the second paragraph, there are relative values and a certain association between two things involved in metaphor. These values and association are crucial and have to be rational and appropriate in creating a sound metaphor. Yet, there is one decisive factor that changes the rules of metaphor, that is, for whom the metaphor is created. Depending on for whom, metaphors relative values, association, strengths and weaknesses vary drastically. Lets take a look at the metaphor the war on terrorism. Suppose that this is created for America, as in reality, its strengths are, first, that the word terrorism gives right and justice to those who are fighting against it.
Second, the word terrorism represents vice in those who have been considered terrorists. Third, the word terrorism can point to any states, to which Americas high places seek its way. On the other hand, its weakness is that because of depersonalizing, though meaning the Middle East countries, the word terrorism can offend any states with which America currently has friendship. All these strengths and weakness do not have to be necessarily right or fair and so may be irrelevant to proper relative values and associations. As Frost cynically says, the devil can quote Scripture.As a conclusion, we live in the world built upon metaphor, the world full of metaphors whether they are good or bad. Hence, to correctly comprehend metaphor is to correctly comprehend the world around us and to ensure our safety. After all, no matter where and how you live, we have to learn metaphors mounted with poetry.
-Probert Frost Education by poetry