This week: Writing a Conceit PoemEdited by: warpedsanity
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The poet, being an imitator like a painter or any other artist, must of necessity imitate one of three objects - things as they were or are, things as they are said or thought to be, or things as they ought to be. The vehicle of expression is language - either current terms or, it may be, rare words or metaphors. - Aristotle
An extended metaphor is a metaphor that extends beyond one line of poetry. In a conceit poem the metaphor carries on throughout the whole poem. Conceits can be used to get the maximum richness from a metaphor. Rather than using it once and carrying on, the poet chooses to linger. Typically the metaphor is used as a comparison in an unusual or unexpected way, in order to express the writers thoughts on the subject.
Emily Dickenson, does just that in her poem Hope is a Thing with Feathers
Hope’ is the thing with feathers
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Like in Emily Dickenson's poem, a conceit poem tends to show the emotional state and/or personality of the poet. Apparently at the moment Mrs. Dickenson wrote this poem she did not think fondly of thoughts of hope. She describes it using characteristics of a bird, then expresses metaphorically how it doesn't come to her.
Take the concept of family for example. If one comes from a traumatic childhood, family might be a dull knife. A dull knife doesn't cut clean. It tears, sometimes leaving an ugly scar. For someone else who has a more positive perception of family, a patchwork quilt might be a more suitable comparison. The points might not always match, but the final result is beautiful. If the seams are sewn well, it can last for generations.
I'm sure there are some various ways online which show more structural ways of creating a conceit poem, but I believe the best way is through brainstorming. First come up with an emotion, thought, or thing. Then decide on something that is different, yet has some of the same qualities that best represent your emotions toward it. In whatever brainstorming method you prefer brainstorm all the ways they are similar. Then piece the similarities into your verse.
Have you written a conceit poem? If not, give it a try. I'd love to read your examples.
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