I suggest that we take the expression “split reference” as our leading line in our discussion of the referential function of the metaphorical statement. This expression, as well as the wonderful “it was and it was not,” contains in nuce all that can be said about metaphorical reference. To summarize, poetic language is no less about reality than any other use of language but refers to it by the means of a complex strategy which implies, as an essential component, a suspension and seemingly an abolition of the ordinary reference attached to descriptive language. This suspension, however, is only the negative condition of a second-order reference, of an indirect reference built on the ruins of the direct reference. This reference is called second-order reference only with respect to the primacy of the reference of ordinary language. For, in another respect, it constitutes the primordial reference to the extent that it suggests, reveals, unconceals—or whatever you say—the deep structures of reality to which we are related as mortals who are born into this world and who dwell in it for a while.

Paul Ricoeur, “The Metaphorical Process as Cognition, Imagination, and Feeling”