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Poetic Devices in Poetry by Vivian Gilbert Zabel
One way to attain the qualities so essential to making words poetic is through the use of poetry devices. We won't begin to cover all the known poetic devices or terms. Rather we'll discuss and use some of the more commonly known and used ones.
Below are the more commonly used poetic devices and terms. Hopefully, with the examples given, everyone can better understand some of the ways to make poetry, well, more poetic. The examples used are my own poetry and are copyrighted in my name.
Poetry devices (a major sampling):
alliteration: the repetition of a beginning sound.
In the first two lines, the r sound is repeated. In the third line p starts two adjoining words.
allusion: a casual reference to someone or something in history or literature that creates a mental picture.
A Common Woman
No Helen of Troy she,
Helen of Troy brings to mind a woman so beautiful that two countries went to war over her.
analogy: the comparison of two things by explaining one to show how it is similar to the other.
The day dawns as a journey.
The whole poem creates analogy, the comparison of a day and a train journey.
caesura: the pausing or stopping within a line of poetry caused by needed punctuation.
Living, breathing apathy
The punctuation within the lines (in this case, all commas) are the caesura, not the punctuation at the ends of the lines.
enjambement: the continuation of thought from one line of poetry to the next without punctuation needed at the end of the previous line(s).
Looking through the eyes
Enjambement is found at the end of lines 1, 3, and 4 because punctuation was not needed in those places.
hyperbole: extreme exaggeration for effect.
Giants standing tall as mountains
Arms of tree trunks wrap
Giants aren't really tall as mountains, nor are arms tree trunks, but the use of the exaggeration helps create the image wanted.
metaphor: the comparison of two unlike things by saying one is the other.
Sunshine, hope aglow,
Clouds are ships in full sail
In the first stanza, sunshine is compared to hope while in the second, clouds are compared to ships.
metonymy: the substitution of a word for one with which it is closely associated.
Scandals peep from every window,
White House is used in place of the President or the government, and readers understand what is meant without exactly who is being directly addressed.
onomatopoeia: the sound a thing makes
Roaring with the pain
Grrrr, the lion's cry echoes
Roaring, rumbling, cry are not examples of onomatopoeia, but are verb forms. Boooom, craaaashhh, yeow, and grrrrr are examples of onomatapoeia.
oxymoron: the use of contradictory terms (together) for effect.
Freezing heat of hate
Freezing and heat are contradictory, opposites, yet the two together create a mental image.
personification: the giving of human traits to non-human things incapable of having those traits.
Anger frowns and snarls,
Frowning and snarling are human traits that anger cannot experience; however using them as traits for anger creates the imagery needed.
simile: the comparison of two unlike things by saying one is like or as the other.
Sunshine, like hope aglow,
Clouds are like ships in full sail
These two stanzas of poetry and those for metaphor are nearly identical. Both metaphor and simile are comparisons of unlike things, but metaphor states one thing is the other while simile says one is like the other, or as the other.
symbol: something which represents something else besides itself.
The dove, with olive branch in beak,
The dove is a symbol of peace, and the hawk is a symbol of war. Using them in poetry gives an image without having to explain in detail.
elegy: a poem of lament (extreme sorrow, such as caused by death)
free verse: a poem without either a rhyme or a rhythm scheme, although rhyme may be used, just without a pattern.
blank verse: un-rhymed lines of iambic pentameter (ten syllables with all even numbered syllables accented)
imagery: the use of words to create a mental picture
mood: the emotional effect of a poem or a story
Understanding and using these devices and terms can help improve and
strengthen poetry. Imagery is essential for vivid poetry, and devices help
About the Author
Vivian Gilbert Zabel taught English, composition, and creative writing for twenty-five years, honing her skills as she studied and taught. She is a author on Writers (http://www.Writing.com/), and her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/vzabel. Her books, Hidden Lies and Other Stories and Walking the Earth: Life's Perspectives in Poetry,