Poetic Devices Definitions and examples to help in your analysis of difficult texts.
Line Breaks • It is important to learn how to read a poem. Firstly, many people make the mistake of reading poem one line at a time; however, this is incorrect. Poems should still be read using all of the punctuation marks included. • Example:Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; • Secondly, poems should be read slower than one would read prose. It takes time to hear all of the poetic devices, and poets take the time to make every word count.
Mood/Tone • Mood is the overall feeling the poem creates. • Tone is the poet’s “voice” or attitude toward the poem or audience. For example, it can be playful, sad, lonely, angry or joyful. • Example: The skies they were ashen and sober;The leaves they were crisped and sere - The leaves they were withering and sere;It was night in the lonesome OctoberOf my most immemorial year • Mood and tone are used to create a specific feeling in the reader, and to convey emotion without explicitly stating it.
Metaphor • Afigure of speech that compares two unlike things directly, without the use of like or as, usually through the use of is. • Example: My family is an expired firecrackerset off by the blowtorch of divorce. We layscattered in many directions.My father is the wick, badly burntbut still glowing softly.My mother is the blackened paper fluttering down,blowing this way and that, unsure where to land. • A poet can use metaphor to give new meanings to objects or ideas, creating a more vibrant atmosphere. • A metaphor is frequently used for an entire stanza, or even longer, to affect the mood of the poem.
Allusions • Example: “Et Tu, Brute? “is a line from Shakespeare's play “Julius Caesar” meaning “And you, Brute?” often used to show betrayal. In Aladdin the Genie says “Et tu, Brute!” when a Roman hand comes out of the cookbook with a dagger. Allusions are a reference within a work to something largely well known and famous outside of it, such as: a well-known person, place, event, story, work of art, literature, music, or popular culture. Allusions are types of metaphors. Allusions are used to let the reader understand information about the character, plot, or setting by connecting it to something that is already known.
Simile • Figure of speech that compares two unlike things, using the words like or as. • Example: When I am alone, The wind in the pine-trees Is like the shuffling of waves Upon the wooden sides of a boat. • Similes are similar to metaphors, however, as you can see from the example, a simile is usually only a line or two long
Symbolism • Using an object to represent an idea. A symbol can be understood in two levels; it means what it is (denotative definition) and also something more (connotative definition). • Example: Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. • Symbolism adds depth and meaning to poetry. It allows a writer to add complexity or meaning to his or her work with just a single word.
Hyperbole • an expression of exaggeration. • Exapmple: She simply would not take the garbage out. And so it piled up to the ceilings: Coffee grounds, potato peelings, Brown bananas, rotten peas, Chunks of sour cottage cheese. It filled the can, it covered the floor, It cracked the window, it blocked the door • Hyperbole is used to show something that are not literally true, but people use them to sound impressive or to emphasize something, such as a feeling, effort, or reaction.