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The Origin of the Term "Image"

Author(s): Ray Frazer


Source: ELH, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Jun., 1960), pp. 149-161
Published by: Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2871916
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THE ORIGIN OF THE TERM " IMAGE"


BY RAY FRAZER

" Image " is one of the most common-and ambiguous-terms


in modernliterarycriticism.Brooksand Warrendefineit as " the
representation
in poetryof any sense experience."Anotherhandbook definesit as "a mental picture evoked by the use of
metaphors,similesand otherfiguresof speech." In his new Art
of Poetry,Hugh Kenner says that images are " what the words
actually name"; an image is " a thing the writernames and
introducesbecause its presencein the piece of writingwill release
and clarifymeaning."1 There are thus at least three bases for
definition:an imagemay be that whichis sensuous,or figurative,
or particularlymeaningful.Nor does image have a syntactic
dimension.It may be a word,a phrase,a clause,a sentence even
a whole poem (e.g., Pound's "In a Station of the Metro").
It may be a noun,adjective,adverb or verb. It may be a simple
term,such as " a dome,"or it may be a complexset of terms,such
as " Life, like a dome of many-colouredglass,/Stainsthe white
radianceof Eternity."
Yet the termoriginallymeant no morethan picture,imitation
or copy. Thus it was in the Renaissance,and when we speak of
Spenser's" picturesqueimagery" or Donne's " powerfulimagery"
we are usinga termunknownto them. In the criticalvocabulary
of the period-that of classical rhetoricand logic-there was a
special term (Icon) whichmeant a pictureof something,and a
generalconcept (Enargia) which meant the process of making
the readerseemto see something.These weredutifullymentioned
by such derivativewritersas Puttenham,but with nothinglike
thefrequencythatwe wouldexpect. The Renaissancepoet,whose
1 Understanding
Poetry (New York, 1938), p. 633; Dan S. Nortonand PetersRushton,
A Glossary of Literary Terms (New York, 1941), p. 32; Art of Poetry (New York,
1959), p. 38. Kenner also speaks of an " unstated image"-which is presumablywhat
the wordsdon't actually name.

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149

so full of imagery,didn't think of


work was characteristically
himselfas using any.
What he did thinkin termsof was " figures"-the techniques
of expression. As ProfessorRosemond Tuve has shown,2the
fusionoflogicand rhetoricin theRenaissanceprovideda complex
and subtletheoryofpoetryin whichthe poet was conceivedas a
"maker," a fashioner. His tools were the Aigures,the nearly
numberlessways and fashions of molding language. A good
" poem-could be completely
poem-that is to say, an " artificial
describedin termsof figures.A poem's structuremightbe one
figure;its logical progressionanother; its sentence structure
another;and its phrasing,language,and even spelling,stillothers.
Miss Tuve points out that nearlyeverycriticalvalue, including
richnessor tension,can be foundin thelogicalour ownoriginality,
rhetoricalsystem,but its chiefvalue was surelytechnical: the
poet, the maker,was to be praised forhis technicalvirtuosity.
But technicalvirtuositywas to become suspect in the later
seventeenthcentury;" artificial" was to take on a pejorative
meaning;the employmentof figurescame to be thoughtof as a
sortof dishonesttamperingwiththe truth. As poems themselves
becameless rhetorical,
argumentative,
sententious,
didactic,so the
of criticismchanged. The curiouslyurgentdemand
terminology
for " perspicuity"after1660, whetherthe result of the French
classical influenceon the court of Charles II, the new science,
the reactionagainst religiousenthusiasm
philosophicempiricism,
(or all of these together),expresseditselfchieflyin a hostility
towardsrhetoric,towardsfigures,and particularlytowardsmetaphor. The proscriptionof rhetoricproscribedthe chiefcritical
vocabularyof the past. Image was one of the termsto fillthe
vacuum.
Modern suspicionof propaganda,profoundthoughit may be,
seems thinin comparisonto the suspicionof language itselfheld
by the people of the Restoration.In almostparanoiac irritation,
writerafterwriteraccused his mediumof an inherentduplicity.
AlthoughBacon earlyin thecenturyhad called the studyofwords
ratherthan things" the firstdistemperof learning,"it was not
until 1660 that this attitude was widely shared. By then even
'Elizabethan and MetaphysicalImagery (Chicago, 1947); cf. W. G. Crane, Wit and
Rhetoricin the Renaissance (New York, 1937), and SisterMiriam Joseph,Shakespeare.
Use of the Arts of Language (New York, 1947).

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The Originof the Tern " Image "'

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JeremyTaylor was converted to plainness, urging his fellow


clergymento use only " primitive,known,accustomedwords."
The famouspassage in Sprat's Historyof the Royal Societycalls
for similarpurity: " a close, naked, natural way of speaking."
To Bishop Sprat, the unfortunatestate of the language, with
meaningso slippery,was the result of the civil wars, Puritan
enthusiasmand the generalsocial chaos of the Interregnum;
it is
only "now, when mens minds are somewhatsettled,"4 that the
reformation
can take place.
But iflanguageitselfwas shifty,
figurative
languagewas totally
dishonest,and metaphornot be borne. Sprat called metaphor
" a trick,"" specious,"leading to all sortsof " mists and uncertainties." A fewyearslater,Samuel Parker argued seriously(for
all we know) that a law whichwouldforbid" fulsomeand lushious
Metaphors" wouldcure" all our presentDistempers." Much of
the argumentfora plain stylein prosecame fromthosewho would
reformthe methodsof preaching,but even the clergymenwho
wereso simplethemselveshad to deal withthe murkyand metaphoricalBible: how could the unplain language of God be justified?By thenatureofHis originalaudience,accordingto Robert
Boyle. In primitivetimes,when vocabularieswere small, metaphor was considerablymore necessaryfor communication,said
Boyle; and then the fieryand passionate nature of the Asiatic
races is naturallyinclined to " Dark and Involv'd Sentences,"
"Figurative and Parabolical Discourses," and " Abrupt and
Maim'd " expression.6It would followfromthis view that for
an age preparingto be Augustan,fora people neitherprimitive,
passionatenor Asiatic,metaphorwas not only an unseemlydisplay of wit,but also a sortof culturalregression.
Such antagonismtowardsmetaphorand similarfigureswas not
limitedto prose nor to the years immediatelyafterthe Restoration. To Hobbes, there were seven thingswhichmake a poem
excellent,and the firsttwo of these wereperspicuityof language
8

'Quoted fromTaylor's Rules and Advices to the Clergy by A. C. Howell in his


excellentessay on this subject," Res et Verba: Words and Things,"ELH, XIII (1946),
187. See also the essays by R. F. Jonesin The SeventeenthCentury (Stanford,1951).
'Part IX, Section xx, in Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century,ed. J. E.
Spingarn (Oxford,1909), II, 113.
' A Discourse of
Ecclesiastical Politie (London, 1670), p. 76.
Some ConsiderationsTouching the Style of the Holy Scriptures (London, 1661),
pp. 30-38,166.

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151

and perspicuityofstyle-i. e., the avoidanceoffigures.Davenant


thoughtthe figuresof speechto be the lowestlevel of refinement
in language; they should not be used in poetry. Pope's friend
GeorgeGranville,so late as 1701, expressedthe same view:
But Poetryin FictiontakesDelight,
And Mountingup in Figuresout of Sight,
Leaves Truthbehindin heraudaciousFlight;
Fables and Metaphorsthatalwayslie,
And rashHyperboles,
that soar so high,
And everyOrnament
ofVerse,mustdie.7
And Pope's own Peri Bathous is primarilyan attack on the
absurdityof far-fetched
metaphors.The declinein the reputation
of Cowley and Donne is an index to these attitudes.
The neo-classicdisinclinationto be deceived and unwillingness
to suspend disbeliefblinded the age to much of the power of
Renaissancepoetryand to all of the theorybehindit. Rhetoric,
whichat the time of Shakespearehad includedmost of the art
of logic,had been split by Ramus; the Ramistic rhetoricswhich
appearedin the seventeenthcenturydealt onlywith" elocution"
-the ornamentationand decorationof a previouslyorganized
expression.What theyperceivedto be thenatureofcontemporary
rhetoricbooks (such as The Mysterie of Rhetorique Unvail'd
[1657]) Restorationreadersassumed to be the nature of subject
itself. Rhetoric to them was a kind of black art, a hangover
fromthe scholasticDark Ages, a systematicprogramof deception whichcoveredhonest" things" with doubtful" words."
Its unpopularitywas such that therewerevirtuallyno rhetoric
books published fromthe Restorationto the later eighteenth
century.When Blair and Campbelldid publishbooks of rhetoric
theydefinedthe subject as " criticism,"and themselvesas critics.
Blair was anxious to dissociatehimselffromthe old fashioned
systemofrhetoricbecause ofthe many" prejudices" againstit in
his day:
A sort of art is immediately
thoughtof, that is ostentatiousand
deceitful;
the minuteand trifling
studyof wordsalone;the pompof
expression;
the studiedfallaciesof rhetoric;
ornamentstudiedin the
roomof use....8
7 "An Essay Upon UnnaturalFlights in Poetry," in Spingarn,Ill, 292-293.
Lectures on Rhetoricand Belles Lettres [1762] (Philadelphia,1849), p. 10; this was
one of many nineteenthcenturyreprints.
8

The Originof the Term " Image "'

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Needless to say, " figures" are handled rathergingerlyby these


new critics.Blair, forexample,is not quite sure whichare figures
of words,whichof thoughts;he calls the former" tropes." The
wholeclassicalsystemhas somehowfadedout ofknowledge.Lord
Kames, in his Elements of Criticism, can actually say that the
ancients" had no precisecriterionfordistinguishing
tropesfrom
plain language."'
But althoughit was the hair-splitting
scholasticdistinctionsof
rhetoricwhich annoyed the eighteenthcenturywriters(Kames
thoughtthem "trash"), the new analyses were just as complicated. Kames findstwenty-seven
different
varietiesof " metonymy,"whichhe calls by variousnames. And Campbell,equally
anxiousto simplify
and generalize,endsup withseveralminortypes
of two main kindsofclassical" synechdoche"-good and bad. It is
good whena poet substitutesthe less generalforthemoregeneral,
but " obstructiveto vivacity" whenhe does the opposite. What
has happenedis a changein interestfromthe writerto the reader,
froman analysisof the techniqueof expressionto an analysisof
the natureof the response.It was the processof substitutionand
the type of relationbetweentermswhichinterestedthe classical
rhetorician;
to theeighteenthcenturycritic" figurative
language"
(the new, less preciseterm) is evaluated accordingto its effect
on the reader.
With such termsas " figure" and " metaphor" misunderstood
or mistrusted,
therewas roomfornew terminology.But beforea
new termcan come into vogue theremust be a particularneed
forit: somethingnew in poetry which it can defineor a new
way of looking at poetry which it can express. For example,
Eliot's " objectivecorrelative" is a definition
ofhis new technique;
ouruse of " myth" is requiredby a new way oflookingat poetry.
Like the term" organicform,"whichboth describedRomantic
poetryand representedRomantic attitudes,the term " image"
seems to have developed as a result of both causes. The epistemologyof Hobbes and the psychologyof the associationistsled
to a new way of lookingat poetry. To Hobbes, the image was
theconnectinglinkbetweenexperienceand knowledge-offundamentalimportance.And therewas somethingnew in poetry: the
descriptive" nature" poetryof the eighteenthcenturyis characteristicallyfull of visual images,and the dominantmetaphorical
9First publishedin 1762; in the editionof 1805, II, 185.

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mode-personification-is itself pictorial. Inoculation, in becominga heavenlymaid, becomesan image.


Hobbes' sensationalisttheory brought the term image into
commonuse and magnifiedits importancein the creativeprocess
and the aestheticexperience.His epistemology,as categorically
set downin the firstand secondchaptersofthe Leviathan,emphasized the sense originof all knowledge.Sensations,he said, were
registeredin the mind in " images"; an object perceivedcaused
an impressionor printwhichcould conveythe idea of the subject
to the mind. Hobbes also formulatedthe theoryof the " fancy,"
or imagination,as a vast storehouseofall past senseimpressions
or
images. AlthoughHobbes, and laterLocke, derogatedthe power
of the imaginationto perceivesimilarities(and hence similesand
metaphors) in favor of the discriminatingand distinguishing
power of the judgment-although,in fact, neitherHobbes nor
Locke was much interestedin poetry-yet this new theoryhad
an importanteffectupon literarycriticism.
So early as 1664 Dryden was a believerin the Hobbesian idea
of the creativeprocess. He speaks of a play
long beforeit was a play; when it was only a confusedmass of
thoughts,tumblingover one anotherin the dark; whenthe fancy
was yetin its firstwork,movingthesleepingimagesofthingstoward
thelight,thereto be distinguished,
and theneitherchosenor rejected
by the judgment.'
Three years later Dryden used Hobbes' familiarfigure: "the
facultyof imaginationin a writer. . . like a nimblespaniel,beats
over and ranges throughthe fieldof memory,till it springsthe
quarry hunted after."" As the eighteenthcenturyprogressed,
the spanielwas seen to operatein particularways,connectingone
image with anotherby contiguityin time or space, by cause or
effect,and so on,'2 but the principal conceptionremainedthe
same: the poet's creativepowerlies in his " imagination,"that is,
in the richnesswith which his otherwiseblank mind has been
covered by the "images " of his experience. Althoughwe do
learnby smell,tasteand touch,ourprimarysourceofknowledge1 In his dedicationof The Rival Ladies, Works,ed. Sir Walter Scott and rev. George
Saintsbury (Edinburgh,1882-1892), II, 1929-30.
'
"An Account of the Ensuing Poem [AnnusMirabili]," Works,IX, 95.
2 For a full account of the associationistcritics,see Gordon McKenzie,
Critical
Responsiveness (Berkeley,1949).

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The Originof the Term "image"

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and thereforethe most powerfulmode of communication-is


visual. Addisonwrotein the Spectator (411), " We cannotindeed
have a single image in the fancy that did not make its first
appearance throughthe sight."
Addisonwas writingnot about the creativeprocess,but about
the aesthetic"pleasures of the imagination." Accordingto the
theoryof the association of ideas, the appreciationof art was
the exact reversalof its creation: the reader's spaniel followed
the writer'sback throughthe fieldof memory.The poet would
naturallythink in terms of images, and the reader would as
naturallyrespondto them. The popularityof the Horatian tag,
ut picturapoesi.s,is an indicationof the ubiquityof these ideas.
on common
The Reason whyDescriptions
makelivelierImpressions
Readersthanany otherpartsof a Poem,is becausetheyare form'd
too call'dImaging,
ofIdeas drawnfromtheSenses,whichis sometimes
and are thus,in a manner,like Pictures,made Objectsof the Sight;
ofIdeas abstracted
whereasmoralThoughtsand Discourses,consisting
fromSense,operateslowerand withless Vivacity.
So wroteJohnHughes in 1735.13 So feltJohnGildon,some years
before,whenhe praisedthe " perfectPicture" of a poet, " setting
beforethe Mind an Image," on the groundsthat " the framing
of admirableImages" was the main business of poetry.1"So it
was throughoutthe century:to Daniel Webb, in 1762," the principal Beauties in Poetry springfromthe forceor elegance of its
Images "; in the same year Blair wrotethat " the highestexertion
of genius" is to be foundin descriptiveimagery;in 1770 William
Dufflistedthe powerof imageryas one of the fourgreattalents
of the " originalGenius."15 For these later writersimageryhad
some of the complexityof meaningwhich belongs to it today,
but its primarymeaningwas still that of a vivid " picture" or
description,raised to highersignificanceby its epistemological
function.
As a criticalterm,image,we may say, is thuspartlya product
of the new way of lookingat poetry,the new aestheticsof sensationalism. But it was also a very necessaryterm for the new
poetry,for the only new genre of the neo-classicperiod, the
Poems on Several Occasions,II, 830.
Complete Art of Poetry (London, 1718), p. 55.
1 Remarks on the Beauties of Poetry,p. 69; Lectures,p. 452; Critical Observations
on . . . the Most Celebrated OriginalGeniusesin Poetry,p. 839.
iS

1'

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155

descriptivepoem. Poems descriptiveof naturewerenot unknown


beforethe eighteenthcentury,but they differedfromthe later
typein intention,tone and structure.
Dear stream!dear bank! whereoftenI
Have sat and pleasedmypensiveeye . . .
wrote Henry Vaughan in " The Waterfall," but unlike, say,
Wordsworth,he had gone to nature to finda series of intricate
parallelsbetweenthe scenebeforehim and the faithwithin.And
Marvell's " The Garden,"thoughit marks (as someonehas said)
a change in the basic color of English poetry,is still a logical,
rhetoricalpoem,fullofwit: " Two Paradises 'twerein one/Tolive
inParadisealone." The intention
of Ben Jonson's" To Penshurst"
is to flatterthe residentsof that estate; its methodis to call on
all aspects of beauty, peace and ease visible at Penshurstas
rhetorical" testimony"of the virtuesof the Sidneys. Waller's
poem on St. James'sPark has a similarintentionand structure:
the remodelingjob done thereby Charles II is argumentof the
similar reformsand improvementsawaiting the countryas a
whole.
The subjects of descriptivepoems kept gettinglarger (from
garden to park to the view from Cooper's Hill to the whole
of Windsor Forest) until, with Thomson, the propertyto be
describedwas Nature, and the ownerto be flattered,God. But
by his time the intentionsof the descriptivepoems had changed
as well. Poets were to be associationistsof ideas: they reflected,
or, as T. S. Eliot has said, they "ruminated." Denham, in
Cooper's Hill, is halfwaybetween the neatly structuredargumentativepoem of the past and the associationalmeditationof
the future. There is a logical argumentin the poem, but also,
as Pope observed,
of places and imagesraised by the poet are still
the descriptions
tendingto somehint,or leadingintosomereflection
upon morallife
or politicalinstitution,
muchin the samemanneras thereal sightof
suchscenesand prospectsis apt to givethe minda composedturn,
and inclineit to thoughtsand contemplations
that have a relation
to the object-"
16 Quotedby Earl R. Wasserman
in The SubtlerLanguage(Baltimore,
1959),p. 46.
Wasserman
findsan organicwholeness
in Cooper'silH and in WindsorForest,which
" keptPope frombeingable to describe.
limitedcriticalterminology
his" narrowly

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The Originofthe Term"Image"

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In a fewyearsdescriptive
and reflective
poemswerestructured
notbylogicbutby association.The reactionagainsttheRenaissance view of art, againstthe conceptionof the artistas a
fashioner
of elegantly
artificial
is perhapsbest seenin
products,
a manlikeYoung,whosaid ofhisNightThoughts(1742):
As theoccasionofthispoemwasreal,notfictitious,
so themethod
initwasrather
pursued
imposed,
arosein the
bywhatspontaneously
author's
mindon thatoccasion,
thanmeditated
ordesigned.
. .
As the intentionand structureof the descriptive-reflective
poemschanged,so did the use of imagery.In the Renaissance,
descriptions
ofnaturalobjectswerealmostalwaystheminorterms
offigures,
illustrations
or examples:in a word,thetoolsofintellectualor spiritualargument.
ShallI compare
theeto a summer's
day?
0 Lord,howsweetandclean
Howfresh,
Arethyreturns!
Ev'n as theflowers
in spring....
Likeuntotheseunmeasurable
mountains
So is mypainful
life....
In suchpoetry,
thouandI and God aremoreimportant
thanthe
summer'sday, the flowersand the mountains.Herrick'slittle
lyricis not about daffodils,
but about a mementomori. The
Renaissancepoetis usuallyexplicit,
and therelationship
he sees
betweentheimageand theidea is logicallyexplained.Sincehis
timetherehas been a gradualshiftaway fromlogicand away
fromexplanation:a twentieth
centuryImagistpoem contains
" naturepoetryoftheeighteenth
onlytheimage." Pre-Romantic
century
is a stepin the moderndirection.Thoughstillexplicit,
evengarrulous,
thenaturepoet is notmerelyusingimageryfor
somelogicalpurpose,but celebrating
it-or celebrating
his own
sensitiveresponseto it. Ut picturapoesisstill,but the picture
hispoetryresembles
is nottheRenaissanceemblemor allegorical
"
painting,
butthelandscape.Youngwas suspicious
of" fictitious
" or " designed
poetry,of a structure
thatwas " meditated
"; a
ofthisattitudewas suspicion
corollary
ofunnatural
oruntruthful
imagery.Thus JosephWarton,in disparaging
Pope, praised
Thompsonfor" newand originalimageswhichhe paintedfrom
17 Works

(Boston, 1907), p. S.

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157

natureitself" and whichweremoretruthful


thanthe observations
of " poets who have only copied fromeach other."18
The noveltyand freshnessWarton admiredwas that of visual
images, literal pictures: what oft was seen but ne'er so well
described. But if the term image were to have kept only its
originaldimensionof a pictureof something,a set of descriptive
details,it wouldhave remainedchieflyapplicableonlyto a shortlived genreof poetry. We mightstill speak of Thomson's or of
Wordsworth'simagery(or even that of Spenserand Keats), but
the termwouldn'tbe of much use in relationto Donne or Eliot.
However,we also mean figurative
languagewhenwe say imagery:
metaphorsand similesare images to us. The figurativemeaning
of image was firstemployedby Dryden, who used the termto
describeCowley'smetaphoricalpractice;19 it was onlyveryslowly
picked up by othercritics. Perhaps it was firstemployedin lieu
of figureor metaphorbecause those terms were in bad odor,
smackingofscholasticism.But theredevelopeda theoreticjustification of the term in the early eighteenthcentury: a striking
sensitivityto sense impressionsled critics to believe that all
devicesof languagewereessentiallydescriptive.As JosephTrapp
put it in 1711:
Poetryconsistsmorein Description,than is generallyimagined.
of Things,Places and
For,besidesthoselongerand set Descriptions
Persons,therearenumberless
others,unobserved
by commonReaders,
in one Word,to whichthe whole
containedin one Verse,sometimes
BeautyoftheThoughtis owing;and whichwonderfully
affectus, for
no otherReasonbut becausetheyare Descriptions,
thatis,impressa
livelyImage of somewhatupon the Mind. To thisit is that metawhenselectedwithJudgement,
phoricalExpressions,
owetheirBeauty
and theirElegance;everyMetaphorbeinga shortDescription.20
This became the commonview duringthe century.There were
on the theoryas it became widespread,such as these
refinements
in a laterhandbook: " allusionsand similesare descriptions
placed
in an oppositepoint of view . . . and the hyperboleis oftenno
more than a descriptioncarried beyond the bounds of prob"' Essay on the Genius and Writingsof Pope [1756], (London, 1806), I, 40.

19 In his "Apology forHeroic Poetry and Poetic License," Works,V, 119. This was

in 1674, two years earlierthan the Hobbes quotation in the OED-and


use of the meaning.
0 Lecture on Poetry,trans.E. Bowyer (London, 1742), p. 103.

158

a more clear

The Originof the Term""Image"

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ability."21 Since the term image had always been synonymous


withdescription,
it took on thisnew meaningas well. When Dr.
Johnsonspeaks of the " exhaustedimages" of Milton's Lycidas,
he means not picturesbut figures-thetrite metaphorsof the
pastoralelegy.
Extensionof the termfrompictureor descriptionto metaphor
was not afterall so strikinga change in the eighteenthcentury,
forthe characteristic
metaphoricalformof the period was prosopopoeia,personification.
In The Seasons, forexample,the device
is everywhere.From God on down throughthe Great Chain, all
links are personifiedby Thomson: abstractions,such as Virtue
and Vice, are given human form;inanimatenature is animated
(rivers" rage" and clouds " stagger"); and animate nature is
raiseda rankand humanized (chickens,or " featherypeople," are
" pensive") . Thomsoneven employsa devicewhichhas not been
dignifiedwitha name,but whichwe mightcall depersonification:
flowers"blush" or " bare their bosoms," but girls are nearly
always "blooming"; the spideris diabolicallyhuman,but a fop
is called " a gay insect." Criticswereas fondofthistypeofimage
as were poets. Blair appealed to human nature, in which,he
thought,there was " a wonderfulproneness. . . to animate all
objects"; to Campbell,personification
contributedto " vivacity"
because "it is evidentthat thingsanimateawaken greaterattention, and make a strongerimpressionon the mind,than things
senseless."22 The commonappeal ofthepersonification
was visual:
instead of an emptyabstraction(whichhad been, at some prior
time," abstracted" froma senseimpression)one founda pleasing
picture (whichstruckone directlyin the senses). This picturemetaphorcould best be definedby the new term" image."
The verbal means by whichmost personifications
were accomplishedwas that of a noun and an epithet. The peculiarfascination of eighteenthcenturypoets for the epithethas puzzledand irritated-posterity.ProfessorTillotsonhas shownthat the
dictionwhichirritatedWordsworth(the " finnytribe" or " fuzzy
race ") has the veryimportantclassical precedentand can evoke
a sense of the Great Chain of Being,in whicheach animatelink
is a race or tribe; as he says, we still use the diction" heavenly
s JohnNewberry[?], Art of Poetry on a New Plan (London, 1762), p. 43.
2 Lectures,p. 172; Philosophyof Rhetoric[1776] (Philadelphia,1818), p. 832.

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159

bodies."28 Eighteenthcenturycriticsthemselvesonly note the


sensuouseffectof the well chosenepithet,or its capacityto bring
out the " essential nature" of the substantive. Joseph Trapp,
forexample,devotes many pages to highlyrefineddistinctions:
some epithetsadd " distinctIdeas," some add " Light and Ornament,"some are "generallybut not always true,"and some may
"always be used." 24 Eighteenthcenturypoetryhas moreadjectives and fewerverbsthan the poetryof the Renaissance,as the
studiesofProfessorJosephineMiles have shown;25 oftheseadjectives or epithets a good many are metaphoric. Considerable
creativeenergywas spentupon poetrywhichseemsto the modern
readerto be bland or flat. Perhaps the reason forthis is that a
metaphorseemsmoremetaphoricifit is a verb. Only verbmetaphors" carrythe sense" in the fashionour new criticismadmires.
On the otherhand, a personification-nounand epithetin some
metaphoriccombination-seemsmorelike an image than does a
metaphoricverb.
We may trace,then,two of the modernmeaningsof the term
image back to the Restorationor eighteenthcentury.There was,
of course,an etymologicalbasis for the meaning of picture or
imitation.Extensionofmeaningfroman appeal to the sightto an
appeal to any of the sensescomesfromthe sensationalisttheories
of Hobbes; to the popularityof his ideas is owing the greater
currencyof the termimage.Modern use of the termin this sense
is relativelyunambiguous,but one occasionallycomes across the
phrase " sensuous imagery,"as though there were other kinds.
The figurative
meaningof image,whichstemsfromthe defection
of rhetoricin the earlierperiod,has proved to be too generalfor
some criticaluses. No one has wished to returnto the more
refinedtermsof rhetoric (synechdoche,metonymy,catechresis,
allegoria,and so on), but many subtypesof images have been
proposed. The metaphysicalconceitof Donne has recentlybeen
called a " functionalimage,"" radicalimage,"" dissonantimage,"
and " conical image."
"GeoffreyTillotson,"18th CenturyPoetic Diction,"Essays and Studiesof the
XXV (1939),59-80.Cf.C. V. Deane,Aspectsofthe18thCentury
EnglishAssociation,
NaturePoetry(Oxford,
1935),p. 14.
" Lectureson Poetry,p. 69ff. See EdwardL. Surtz,S. J., "Epithetsin Pope's
Messiah,"PQ, XXVII (1948), 215.
2" The Continuity
ofPoeticLanguage(Berkeley
and Los Angeles,1951),p. 172.

160

The Origirof the Term "Image"

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A thirdsense of the term,as definingthe " real meaning" of


the languageof the poem,has no such historicalorigin.Professor
Kenner's assumptionthat in 99 per cent of what one reads the
words do not mean what they say is remarkablyparallel to the
who also desired a dry,
ideas of Sprat and his contemporaries,
hard and naturallanguage,but his denominationof the otherone
per cent as " images" can be tracedno furtherback than Pound
or Hulme.
Pomona CoUege

Ray Frazer

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161