What is Poetic Licence?

What is Poetic Licence?

What is Poetic Licence? : Poetic license refers is a liberty taken by a poet to produce a desired effect by breaking established rules of language. The poet departs from the normal word order. The language of poetry is sometimes different from the normal English sentence pattern.

The poets use words, sentences structure and phrases according to their choice in poetry. So the freedom poets get into the choice of diction (words) (lexis) phrases, syntax (grammar) etc. are the notion which we call poetic license. A normal English sentence has a certain order of words and phrases. With poetic license, this order can be inverted.

What is Poetic Licence?

In a broader sense poetic license is applied not only to language but to all the ways in which the poets and literary persons get freedom in the devices (parts) of meter and rhyme as well as in stanza pattern. It also refers to the freedom in the choice of fictional characters and events. For example E. E. Cummings has got freedom of capital letter and has also dropped the conventional punctuation. Moreover, his use of small letters probably signifies that nothing is more important than anything else. Other poets who experiment with language and style have taken a larger poetic license even to eccentric extremes.

Poetic License Definition

The phrase “poetic license” applies when someone stretches the facts or truth, changes language in order to make a sentence or line sound more aesthetic or interesting, or does anything else to change normal speech/writing to increase its effect.

While the term does use the word “poetic,” it does not apply solely to verse or even dramatic verse. Specific sections of novels, short stories, or even entire long works themselves could be described as an act of poetic license. For example, consider a writer who utilizes numerous neologisms throughout the novel, crafting a new and strikingly original language. Such as is seen in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.

 Examples of Poetic License

History by Carol Ann Duffy

This incredibly Duffy poem utilizes poetic license in the writer’s use of personification and her depiction of history from a solely female perspective. As is common within Duffy’s literary works, the poet utilizes traditional narratives in untraditional ways. Rather than focusing on the best-known male figure of a particular story, historical period, etc., she changes the narrative to focus on the life and experiences of their female counterpart or a woman in their life. Here are a few lines from ‘History:’

 She was History.

She’d seen them ease him down

from the Cross, his mother gasping

for breath, as though his death

was a difficult birth, the soldiers spitting,

spears in the earth;

Within these lines, readers are introduced to the main character of this poem, a personified female version of “History.” By taking poetic license with the traditional depictions of history, particularly poems about history,  Duffy aims to remind the reader of the female experience, often lost within a history that focuses on the lives of men.

 FAQs : Poetic License

What is poetic license also called?

Poetic license is also known as literary license, dramatic license, historical license, narrative license, artistic license, and sometimes just license.

What is the Shakespearean poetic license?

In Shakespeare’s poetic and dramatic works, he utilizes numerous examples of poetic license. This is seen through his intentional alteration of historical facts to fit a dramatic narrative and how he changed the language to conform to specific metrical patterns. For example, the commonly used iambic pentameter of his sonnets.

 Read it also:  Nora’s Identity as a Person in A Doll’s House

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