Metaphor is a pervasive and important phenomenon, both in literature and in ordinary language. It is also an immensely variable phenomenon. The term metaphor is often used to refer to nonliteral comparisons that are novel and vivid and that convey ideas that might otherwise be difficult to express (Ortony, 1975). But the term has also been used to refer to systems of extended meanings that are so familiar as to be almost invisible, such as the spatial metaphors "soaring spirits" or "falling GNP" (Lakoff & Johnson, 1979; Nagy, 1974). Even if we restrict ourselves to literary metaphors, there is still an enormous range of metaphor types, as shown in the following list:

She allowed life to waste like a tap left running. (Virginia Wolfe)

I have ventured,

Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,

This many summers in a sea of glory;

But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride

At length broke under me; and now has left me,

Weary and old with service, to the mercy

Of a rude stream, that must forever hide me. (William Shakespeare)

For the black bat, night, has flown. (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun. (Robert Herrick)

On a star of faith pure as the drifting bread,

As the food and flames of the snow. (Dylan Thomas)

The voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses. (Ε. E. Cummings)