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Identifying major poetry terms and devices
Poetry Terms and Devices
by Vivian Gilbert Zabel

Goal: The writer becomes familiar with some poetry terms and poetic devices. He starts to apply his knowledge of these terms and devices in his writing of poetry in following lessons/chapters.

Materials needed, given below: Poetry Terms
                   Examples of Some Poetry Devices

NOTES: As we discussed in the first part of this unit, poetry has emotion, imagery, significance, beauty, dignity, rhythm, sometimes rhyme, a different arrangement which can include inversion {wording is put in a different order in phrases and/or sentences), and concreteness in its images.

         One way we are able to attain the qualities so essential to making words poetry 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.

1. Read and understand Poetry Terms. Pay particular attention to imagery.

2. Read and understand Examples of Some Poetry Devices. Find the device that appears in each example. Some appear more than once.

Poetry Terms

Poetry devices (a major sampling):

alliteration: the repetition of a beginning sound

allusion: a casual reference to someone or something in history or literature that creates a mental picture.

analogy: the comparison of two things by explaining one to show how it is similar to the other.

caesura: the pausing or stopping within a line of poetry caused by needed punctuation.

enjambement: the continuation of thought from one line of poetry to the next without punctuation needed at the end of the previous line(s).

hyperbole: extreme exaggeration for effect.

metaphor: the comparison of two unlike things by saying one is the other.

metonymy: the substitution of a word for one with which it is closely associated.

onomatopoeia: the sound a thing makes

oxymoron: the use of contradictory terms (together)

personification: the giving of human traits to non-human things incapable of having those traits.

simile: the comparison of two unlike things by saying one is like or as the other.

symbol: something which represents something else besides itself.

Other terms:

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.

blank verse: unrhymed 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

Examples of Some Poetry Devices

         Rain reigns roughly through the day.
         Raging anger from the sky
         Partners prattle of tormented tears
         From clouds wondering why
         Lightning tears their souls apart.

            A Common Woman

         No Helen of Troy she,
         Taking the world by war,
         But a woman in plain paper wrapped
         With a heart of love untapped,
         She waits, yearning for her destiny
         Whether it be a he on a charger white
         Or one riding behind a garbage truck.
         Perhaps instead a room of students
         Lurks in the shadows of her life
         Needing her interest to be shown.
         Yet other concerns may call
         To bestow her talents all.
         No, no Helen of Troy she,
         But a woman set the world to tame
         Wherever she may be.

Note: Helen of Troy is the allusion.

 A Common Woman  (E)
Helen of Troy started a war while a common woman seeks her place in life.
#619416 by Vivian

           Day’s Journey

         The day dawns as a journey.
         First one leaves the station on a train,
         Rushing past other places
         Without a pause or stop,
         Watching faces blur through the window,
         No time to say goodbye.
         On and on the train does speed
         Until the line’s end one sees,
         Another sunset down
         Without any lasting memories.

NOTE: The whole poem is analogy, the comparison of a day and a train journey.

 Day's Journey  (E)
A day is a journey through life - an analogy.
#619411 by Vivian

         Living, breathing apathy
         Saps energy, will, interest,
         Leaving no desire to win.
         All that’s left are ashes,
         Cinders of what might have been.

NOTE: The caesura is found in the use of a comma in the first line (in red) and the second line (also in red).

         Looking through the eyes
         Of wonder, of delight,
         Children view their world
         With trust, with hope
         That only life will change.

NOTE: Enjambement is found at the end of lines 1, 3, and 4.

         Giants standing tall as mountains
         Towering over midgets
         Bring eyes above the common ground
         To heights no longer small.

         Arms of tree trunks wrap
         In comfort gentle, softness
         Unthought of due to size,
         Yet welcomed in their strength.

         Sunshine, hope aglow,
         Streams from heaven’s store
         Bringing smiles of warming grace
         Which lighten heavy loads.

         Clouds are ships in full sail
         Racing across the sky-blue sea.
         Wind fills the cotton canvas
         Pushing them further away from me.

         Scandals peep from every window,
         Hide behind each hedge,
         Waiting to pounce on the unwary,
         As the White House cringes in dismay.

         Roaring with the pain
         Caused by flashing lightning strikes,
         Thunders yells, “Booooom! Craaaashhhh! Yeow!”
         Then mumbles, rumbling on its way.

         Grrrr, the lion’s cry echoes
         Through the jungle’s den
         Causing creatures small
         To scurry to their holes.

NOTE: Roaring, rumbling, cry are not examples of onomatopoeia, but are verb forms.

         Freezing heat of hate
         Surrounds the heart
         Stalling, killing kindness,
         Bringing destruction to the start.

         Anger frowns and snarls,
         Sending bolts of fire from darkest night
         That bring no brilliance,
         Rather only added blackness of sight.

         Sunshine, like hope aglow,
         Streams from heaven’s sky
         Bringing smiles of warming grace
         On breeze whispers like a sigh.

         Clouds are like ships in full sail
         Racing across the sky-blue sea.
         Wind fills the cotton canvas
         Pushing them further away from me.

         The dove, with olive branch in beak,
         Glides over all the land
         Searching for a place to light.
         Storms of war linger on every hand,
         Everywhere the hawk does fight.
© Copyright 2003 Vivian (vzabel at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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