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Poetry . Hide the Metaphor. Adapted from Metaphors and Similes You Can Eat by Orel Protopopescu Scholastic 2004.

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Hide the Metaphor

Adapted from Metaphors and Similes You Can Eat by Orel Protopopescu Scholastic 2004


This poetry lesson is designed to expand a metaphor. It’s important to know that a metaphor is the soul of literature, both poetry and prose. To make this point, read Mark Twain’s description of Colonel Grangerford from Chapter 18 of Huckleberry Finn:

hide the metaphor

“…Everybody loved to have him around, too; he was sunshine most always – I mean he made it seem like good weather. When he turned into a cloud bank it was awful dark for half a minute, and that was enough; there wouldn’t nothing go wrong again for a week.”

Hide the metaphor
hide the metaphor1

A metaphor is not a definition like “A tiger is a big cat,” nor a fact like “Snow is water in a different form.”

Hide the metaphor

Let’s try a game called “Hide the Metaphor”

The night is a stream

With stripes across the sky.

When it thunders

The water is hitting the rocks.

As the comets go by

Is the stream flowing? How would you make the comparison clear without stating it explicitly? Describe night as if it were a stream.


Let’s start off with:

The night flows,

Rushing over rocks and stars…


Let’s try a hidden metaphor to describe something as if it were something else. Example: Fog

The fog comes

On little cat feet

It sits looking

Over harbor and city

On silent haunches

And then moves on

-Carl Sandburg

Is fog described as if it were a cat in this poem, or is a cat described as if it were fog?


The poet was describing fog while thinking of a cat. Sandburg never names the cat, though gives a strong hint with “little cat feet.”

The nouns compared in a metaphor should be close enough that the comparison makes sense, but far enough apart that it’s interesting to bring them together. They are certainly far enough apart, but what are the similarities?


Inside a Dry Cleaning Shop

Inside a dry cleaning shop,

They met each other on the rack.

Him so manly and so neat,

From the top of his hat

To the cuffs of his slacks,

So dark and handsome,

Tall and sleek

Her so dainty and so pale,

With plump arms topped with lace,

A waist so tiny, tied so tight,

With a ribbon of the purest white

From which flowed a skirt,

So wide on every side,

His sleeves started to shake,

His heart flip-flopped, His jacket stretched,

And two buttons popped.

He tipped his hat and asked,

“Where did you come from?”

“From the Governor’s Ball,” she answered.

“And you?”

“A wedding,” he replied.

Inside a secondhand store,

They met each other on the shelf

Him-ragged and a little torn,

His hat all crumpled up,

Four buttons missing and a sleeve,

And his bow tie gone.

Her-without the lace and all the bows,

Her white ribbon, a dirty yellow,

Her arms just hanging like a sack,

Her worn skirt drooping at the back.

“We meet again,” he sadly said.

“Yes ,” she sobbed,

But more she couldn’t say,

For then the trash man came

And dragged her far away.

-Hagar Shirman (7th grade)



Darkness knows


It knows when to gorge itself

On the sweet, yellow light of day.

It know when to nibble

At the bottom of daylight’s skirt

And then,

When noticed,

Devour the rest.

Darkness then slowly

Slides over the land,

Its yellow stomach

Glowing brightly deep within.

When darkness reigns,

A million little crubms of silver

Light it missed

Dance and sparkle

To remind us that


Will return.

-Megan Orosz (8th grade)

expanded metaphor


A lake’s a cake

You slice

With your skates when it is ice

Too thick to splinter,

Where you figure-eight

To decorate


Expanded metaphor
a series of metaphors


A kite’s a sprite

You guide,

A bright message

That you’ve tied

And sent by cable,

A designer sky’s Lift-all-eyes


(messages used to be sent by cables, that is, over telegraph wires)

A series of metaphors
group poem

Sometimes it may be difficult to expand on a metaphor. Let’s see if we can do this as a group.

Love is…..

Group Poem
model poems

The Rain Break-dance

I drop like the rain

And throw my legs

Like rain slipping

Off the roof.

I step after step

Like the drip drop of rain

I do a twist

Like rain in the wind

And end the dance

On my knee in a puddle.

Velcro Love

They were put together the way a child puts on Velcro shoes.

They could be separated

As if a child ripped them off.

They kissed like Velcro strips touching,

But after a while, they got worn out.


The moon is like a peach

Sometimes while,

Sometimes half,

Swwet like the night sky,

Growing each day.

Model poems
your job

It is now your turn to come up with an extended metaphor. Start in your writer’s notebook. Once you feel as if you made the revisions, begin to type and hand it in. Be ready to share it with the class! 

Your job:
poetry 2 startling combinations

This lesson demands abstract thinking just like the last one did. You will pair two nouns or a noun and an adjective to create a kind of friction between the words.

Poetry 2: Startling combinations
from to the moon and back a collection of poems compiled by nancy larrick

Instant Storm

One day in the Thrift-Rite Supermart

MY jaw dropped with wonder.

For there, right next to frozen peas,

Sat frozen French-fried thunder,

Vanilla-flavored lightning bolts,

Fresh-frozen raindrop rattle-

So I bought the stuff and hauled it home

And grabbed my copper kettle.

I’d cook me a mess of homemade storm!

But when it started melting, The thunder shook my kitchen sink

The ice-cold rain kept pelting,

Eight lightning bolts bounced round the room

And snapped my pancake turners-

What a blooming shame!

Then a rainbow came

An spanned my two front burners.

-X.J. Kennedy

From To The Moon and Back A collection of Poems, compiled by Nancy Larrick.
using word pairs

If you are using the nound/adjective pair, be sure to choose words that create some friction between the adjective/noun, not habitual language; not instant potatoes but instant storm…not silent night but silent war…not young boy or young girl, but old boy or old girl….not broken heart, but broken dream…

silent hurricane

During the night,

The wind blew softly.

My dog didn’t bark

As she usually did

When it was dark.

The wind was blowing

Through my dog’s harid.

I got up in the morning

To see if she was there.

In the yard,

There wasn’t a sound,

Not even the dog

Moving around.

Now I know there was

A silent hurricane

In my heart

That night she died

Silent Hurricane
midnight s wheel

Midnight’s wheel rolls

Around Saturn’s rings,

Poor helpless people

Getting no sleep.

Blue and white here no longer

For the sky is black.

City slickers wander,

Yelling with the streets

The planets are falling,

Making us weak,

Screeching moons

Becoming litter

In the black night’s bloom

As the wheel rolls on.

Midnight’s Wheel
your job1

Now it is your turn to pare tow nouns or a noun and an adjective to create a kind of friction between the words.

Your Job