This article examines interlingual poetry of exile in the context of different theories of language in poetry and focuses on Miloš Crnjanski's (1893–1977) poem “Lament nad Beogradom” (“Lament over Belgrade”). The article claims that interlingual poetry of exile has been a blind spot in most theories of poetry, because it undermines the pervasive idea of a monolingual idiom independent from social developments, but that Roman Jakobson's theory of equational relations may be valuable if applied with substantial readjustments to account for the fact that different languages are not connected by any prior paradigmatic framework. In the absence of such an overarching arrangement, code switches in interlingual poetry do not reflect but creatively project paradigmatic relations—in the form of metaphors that constitute a poetic metalanguage. The article focuses on the interlingual poetry of exile and asks how this metaphoric projection of paradigmatic relations between languages is influenced by this severe form of displacement. Crnjanski's “Lament over Belgrade” features dramatic code switches that cluster around various exotopic images indicating some form of spatial outsideness. The article compares these images to metaphors of interlinguality used by other poets in exile such as Ovid, Marina Tsvetaeva, Joseph Brodsky, and Eva Hoffman. Four images are singled out: the capsule, the mountaintop, the nest, and the abyss. In the case of the capsule, externality is a place of isolation and concentration; in the metaphor of the mountaintop, it is a commanding position in which different codes unlock different aspects of the world; in the metaphor of the nest, it is a place with a harmonious synthetic view; in the metaphor of the abyss, it is a place defined by conflict and the risk of annihilation. The article concludes by considering how the imagery of “Lament over Belgrade” converges towards some of these four tropes of interlinguality in creating the poem's metalanguage. After exposure to the abysmal visions of the odd-numbered stanzas in his poem, in every even-numbered stanza Crnjanski retreats to the capsular space of his mother tongue for protection and the gestation of a monolithic poetic idiom, a movement that reflects Crnjanski's incomplete integration of the English language in his own verbal creativity. Crnjanski thus represents interlinguality in terms of an enclosed space whereby the exiled poet is left to his own devices rather than as a vantage point from which new insights can be gained. Finally, the apparent rhythmic and syntactic disparity of poems such as “Lament over Belgrade” is countervailed by a set of metaphors of outsideness which, on the one hand, construct the idea of an imagined metalanguage and, on the other hand, reflect the human trauma of exile.
VLADIMIR ZORIĆ; Radiating Nests: Metalingual Tropes in Poetry of Exile. Comparative Literature 1 June 2010; 62 (3): 201–227. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-2010-011
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