Wmatrix and Poetry

Still on my quest of looking at corpus linguistics and poetry, I became interested in the Wmatrix software developed by Paul Rayson at Lancaster University, UK. http://ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/wmatrix/

I’m particularly interested in the semantic tagging capabilities of this software and thought I would share some early results.

First of all, I loaded the poem to look at the semantic fields, and obtained this:

semantic tagging

From there, I started to look at the concordance lines for each semantic field, start with the most prominent, ‘Anatomy and physiology’:

semantic tagging anatomy


By being able to arrange the concordance lines into such a set, the authors focus and intentions become much more visible.

The next most prominent semantic group is ‘light’, which contained the following concordance lines:

semantic tagging light


The inclusiveness expressed in these lines is quite prominent.

Semantic tagging! I’ll keep digging.


Word Trees

A word tree can also help to visualize and help to focus on certain aspects of a poem.Word Tree our

What insights can corpus linguistics provide to poetry?

I’ve been wondering about this for a while and am probably going to go along the lines of looking at semantic prosody. A poem I’ve been looking at is ‘One Today’ by Richard Blanco, not only because it was a poem which obtained mainstream exposure as the poet read this particular poem at Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony but also because the inclusiveness was interesting regardless of the fact that it didn’t receive critical acclaim at the time.

I’m hopefully going to post more on this as I progress, but to begin with a have created a visual display of the poem using Gephi, which helps to visually present some of the central themes of the poem.Capture