Many scholars have observed the general reservation/aversion most students nurse against poetry as an arm of literary studies. Some of the reasons cited for this, among others, include employment of difficult, remote and archaic words as well as complex and evasive constructions and terms. This study examines some of the prominent stylo-rhetorical devices employed by Lenrie Peters in his Poetic Piece: the Fence. The rationale is to foreground the poet’s ingenuity in exploring both linguistic and rhetorical resources in driving home his message to the conviction and admiration of his readers. The chaotic state of the social order and the sorry condition of humanity in most African societies coupled with both the subject matter and language use in the poem explain our choice of the text. The paper, as an exploration of both semantic cum philosophical praxes of language use, dwelt richly on the blend of linguistic and persuasive nuances of the stylo-rhetorical characteristics of the text under study. Hence, we had cause to investigate the functional values of the salient linguistic resources employed in enacting the text. The Systemic Functional Grammar as propounded by Halliday (1978) was adopted as the theoretical framework for our analysis. Findings showed that poetry is both a linguistic and a social act, and, should be so viewed as a background to be activated for proper understanding and appreciation of our text. We found that it is not all cases of poetry that come with out-of-reach linguistic choices and usages. However, the philosophical nuances of poetry make its texts to call for special but interesting readings not common with other literary genres. This work has proved that the reservation people may have against the texts of poetry may not be so much of estranged linguistic choices and constructions as it is with the philosophical/imaginative inclinations and condiments with which the linguistic choices and constructions are woven together.
Keywords: Poetry, Stylistics, lenrie peters, rhetoric vs style, the fence
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