Metaphorically Speaking

Can one think of a better way to describe something, other than by comparison to another familiar, known object? This is indeed the idea behind the metaphor. Metaphors are composed of the tenor, the subject matter that is being referred to, and the vehicle, the metaphorical term itself. Many great writers have utilized metaphors to create illustrious pieces of work. The metaphor is a useful tool in description and evoking a certain tone that the author wishes to create. Metaphors can be subtle or obviously stated. In the song, Triumph by the Wu Tang Clan, the writers use metaphors differently to enhance the meaning of his song. The writers use many implied, metaphors, similes, as well as self-reflexive comparisons to help the listener achieve a more lucid picture of the messages in the song.
First, the most common types of metaphors used in the song are implied metaphors. Throughout the song, the writers try to create an image of warfare. They implicitly compare the Wu Tang Clan to fighting a battle. This can be seen in line 34 where it states, Guns of Navarone, tearing up your battle zone. Although it is not specifically stated where the battle zone is located, one can deduce that the writers are talking about predominantly poor, African American neighborhoods, where for some people, the streets are as dangerous as real combat. On the same note, the writers use the metaphor Its court adjourned, for the bad seed from bad sperm to make a social comment. It is understood that the bad sperm are the parents of children who, under the circumstances, cannot be raised in a good environment due mostly to poor examples from their parents. Another example of an implied metaphor can be taken out of lines 77-82. In the verse, the writers are giving the listener a description of the Vietnam War. They use the vehicle of war of the masses to describe the war. The million names on walls engraved in plaques refers to the people whose names are on the Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. By dedicating an entire verse to such a significant war, the writers give the listener a somber tone of tragedy. It is a reminder of the outcomes of war and an effective way of stating their views on the matter. Finally, the writers continue the war theme in line 88 where it is written, As we engage in battle, the crowd now screams in rage. This line is significant in that it has a double meaning. First, it can be seen that the battle is an implied metaphor for a concert. Although it is not stated, the listener can conclude this by the crowd and in the following line there is a person on stage. By comparing a concert to a battle, it gives the listener the chaotic emotion that would be present perhaps in a real Wu Tang concert. The other interpretation of the line is that the writers are again denouncing war, by stating that the crowd is in a rage, that they are angered by the battle. All the messages in the song are enhanced by the use of implicit metaphors.
Aside from metaphors, the writer uses similes to develop the song. Similar to metaphors, similes compare two unlike items by using like or as. For example, in line 10 it states, Graphic displays melt the steel like blacksmiths. The tenor, graphic displays of lyrical rapping abilities, is compared to how a blacksmith would melt steel. A blacksmith melts steel with very hot temperatures, and Wu Tang is implying that they melt steel because they are hot, or in other words, that they rap well.In the next verse, it starts off with the simile, As the world turns, I spread like germs. Unlike the other metaphors, this one is explicit in its composition. The rapper is comparing himself to germs, which multiply at an exponential rate. Thus, by doing so, he is saying that he is known all over the world and that he is basically establishing himself in the music industry. Another very effective simile is found in lines 70-72. Here, the writers compare the song to a vortex, or current, which travels throughout your body. Also, the simile they use to describe how the beat makes the listener feel in line 72, implies that the music is orgasmic, of such intense emotions. These positive descriptions regarding the music are undoubtedly included to implant the idea of musical supremacy into the minds of the listeners. Lastly, the writers compare the music to Grand Central Station by using a pun on the word terminal in line 74. By saying that the music is terminal or deadly, it is a metaphor for saying that their beats are incredibly superior. The pun comes in where the word terminal also means a station, in this case the Grand Central Station in New York.
Finally, the writer uses self-reflexive comparisons in the song to help the listener create a mental image of the lyrics. The self-reflexive metaphors are that which has the Wu Tang Clan itself as the tenor. Of the many examples, one is line 50 where they are compared to an Olympic torch. By comparing themselves to such a universal and significant symbol, they are implying their, as well as their musics, importance. The oxymoron of burning sweetly also gives the listener the idea that Wu Tang is good and bad at the same time. The metaphor would be an extension of the image that the group wishes to create as notorious, and yet skillful artists. In two other comparisons, Wu Tang is equated to a soldier in lines 15 and 66. Once again, the lyrics go back to the war-like focus. In these comparisons, the writers are indicating that they are like soldiers – strong, bold, and able to overcome difficulties and triumph over adversaries. As soldiers control the globe, or influence world activities, Wu Tang influences the world through the song. Lastly, Wu Tang also boasts egotistically in line 119, in the self-reflexive comparison to a tranquilizer. The writers imply that they, or their music, have a calming effect to all those that listen. All the self-reflexive metaphors in the song are utilized by the writers for boastful purposes.
In conclusion, the members of the Wu Tang Clan have employed metaphors in different manners in the song Triumph in order to help the listener get a better sense of the meaning of the song. The writers use metaphors, similes, and compare themselves to objects to develop the message of the song. The metaphor is truly a necessary tool for the writer, be it of literature or music.
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