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Literary Devices in Poems - Definitions and Examples of Literary Devices

By Ruchika Gupta

Literary Devices in Poems

Literary Devices in Poems - Literary/Poetic device is a technique a writer uses to produce a special effect in their writing.

 

Literary Devices in Poems, SEE THE VIDEO

 

 

 

List of different poetic devices used in poetry is as follows -

Alliteration

Metaphor

Allusion

Onomatopoeia

Anaphora

Oxymoron

Antithesis

personification

Assonance

Refrain

Asyndeton

Rhyme

Consonance

Repetition

Enjambment

Simile

Hyperbole

Synecdoche

Imagery

Transferred Epithet

Inversion

 

 

The definitions and examples of literary devices which are used in poetry are as follows:

1) Alliteration: The repetition of a consonant sound at the start of 2 or more consecutive words is known as anaphora.
Examples of Alliteration are as follows -  

 

1. Class 10 poem- Snake
“And flickered his two-forked tongue
From his lips, and mused a moment,
And stopped and drank a little more,
From the burning bowels of the earth.
Use of ‘b’ sound in burning bowels.
2. Class 9 poem- Lord Ullin’s daughter
“His horsemen hard behind us ride;
Should they our steps discover,
Then who will cheer my bonny bride
When they have slain her lover/”

  • Use of ‘h’ sound in His horsemen hard
  • Use of ‘b’ sound in bonny bride

 

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2) Allusion: A reference or suggestion to a historical or well known person, place or thing.
Examples of Allusion are as follows -

 

  1. Class 10 poem- Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments (William Shakespeare)

 “Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.”
Mars is the Greek god of war. (Reference of well known person, here god)

  1.  Class 10 poem- Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments (William Shakespeare)

 “So till the judgement that yourself arise, You live in this, and dwell in lover’s eyes.”
Judgement is referred to the judgement day which is an important day in the Christian religion. They believe that god will judge the deeds of all dead people on this day.

 

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3) Anaphora: The repeated use of word at the start of two or more consecutive lines.
Examples of Anaphora are as follows -
1. Class 10 poem- The Frog and the nightingale
Said the frog:” I tried to teach her, But she was a stupid creature-
Far too nervous, far too tense.
Far too prone to influence.

 

The word ‘Far’ is used in the beginning of two consecutive lines.
2. Class 9 poem- The Brook
“I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling
Use of ‘And’ in the beginning of two consecutive lines

 

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4) Antithesis: Use of opposite words in close placement
Examples of Antithesis are as follows -
1. Class 10 poem- The Frog and the nightingale
“Every night from dusk to dawn”

 

Meaning of dusk is sunrise and dawn is sunset. So the two opposite words are in close placement.

2.  Class 9 poem- Song of the Rain

“The voice of thunder declares my arrival;
The rainbow announces my departure.”

Meaning of arrival is to come and departure means to go. So the two opposite words are in close placement.

 

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5) Assonance: The repetition of a vowel sound within a sentence.
Examples of Assonance are as follows -

  1. Class 9 poem- Seven Ages

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and entrances”

Use of sound ‘e’ (men, women, merely, players, exits and entrances)

 

  1. Class 9 poem- The duck and the Kangaroo

 

“Good gracious! How you hop!
Over the fields and the water too:

Use of sound ‘o’ (Good, you, hop, too)

 

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6) Asyndeton: A writing style in which conjunctions are omitted between words, phrases or clauses.
Examples of Asyndeton are as follows -

  1. Class 9 poem- The Brook

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance

There are no conjunctions used between the four words.

 

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7) Consonance: The repetition of a consonant sound in a sentence. It can be at the beginning, middle or end of the word.

Examples of Consonance are as follows -

  • Class 10 poem - Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments

Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time
The use of consonant sound ‘s’ and ‘t’ in the beginning, middle and end of the words.

 

  • Poem- Rime of the ancient mariner

“Still treads the shadow of his foe”
The use of consonant sound ‘s’ and ‘t’ in the beginning, middle and end of the words.

  • Poem- Ozymandias

“I met a traveler from and antique land who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone”

Use of sound ‘t’, ‘l’, ‘d’ in the beginning, middle and end of the words.

 

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8) Enjambment: When a sentence continues into two or more lines in a poem
Examples of Enjambment are as follows -

  1.  Poem- ‘A legend of the Northland’

“They tell them a curious story
I don’t believe ‘tis true;
And yet you may learn a lesson
If I tell the tale to you.”
The sentence continues in the last two lines (And yet…… tale to you)

 

  1. Class 10 poem- The Frog and the nightingale

 “Once upon a time a frog
Croaked away in Bingle Bog
Every night from dusk to dawn
He croaked awn and awn and awn

The sentence continues from first to last line

 

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9) Hyperbole: It is a Greek word meaning “overcasting”. The use of exaggeration to lay emphasis.
Examples of Hyperbole are as follows -
Class 10 poem- Ozymandias
“My name is Ozymandias, King of kings”
Here they have used hyperbole because Ozymandias refers himself as king of the kings.

 

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10) Imagery: The creation of any sensory effect like visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, kinesthetic, organic.( to create scenes in the poem)
Examples of imagery are as follows -

  • Class 10 poem- The Frog and the nightingale

“But one night a nightingale
In the moonlight cold and pale
Perched upon the sumac tree
Casting forth her melody”
Here we can imagine a scene of night that is cold and nightingale is singing melodiously on a branch of sumac tree

 

  • Class 10 poem- The Frog and the nightingale

“Ducks had swum and herons waded
To her as she serenaded
And a solitary loon
Wept, beneath the summer moon

Here the poet has presented a kinesthetic imagery; this means he has described certain movements by ducks and herons that are trying to reach to the sumac tree to hear nightingale’s voice.

 

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11) Inversion: It is also known as “anastrophe” the normal order of words is reversed, in order to achieve a particular effect of emphasis. (Generally the form is changed from active to passive)
Examples of inversion are as follows -

  • Poem- Lord Ullin’s daughter

“His horsemen hard behind us ride”
The correct form of sentence was (his horsemen riding behind us hard)

 

  • Poem- Rime of the ancient mariner

“The sun came up upon the left, out of the sea came he!”
The correct form of sentence was (he came out of the sea)

  • Poem- Snake

“On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat, To drink there.”
The correct form of sentence is (I had gone to drink there in my pyjamas because of heat)

 

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12) Metaphor: It is indirect comparison by highlighting a particular quality of two things.
Examples of metaphor are as follows -

  • Poem- The Frog and the nightingale

“You are Mozart in disguise”
Here the nightingale compares frog’s singing ability with that of great musician Mozart

 

  • Poem- The song of the rain

“The field and cloud are lovers”
Here the poet is comparing field and cloud with lovers.

  • Poem- Seven Ages

“All the world’s a stage”
Here the poet has compared world with stage.

 

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13) Onomatopoeia: It is the usage of sound words to create a dramatic effect.

Examples of onomatopoeia are as follows -

  • Poem- The frog and the nightingale

“Once upon a time a frog
Croaked away in Bingle bog”
So, here the poet used the word ‘croaked’ which is a sound made by the frog

 

 

  • Poem- The Brook

“I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.
The words ‘chatter’, ‘trebles’, ‘bubble’ and ‘babble’ are used to show flowing water of a spring

 

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14) Oxymoron: It is when apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. (here the words are not opposite to each other like it is in antithesis but their meaning is opposite)
Examples of oxymoron are as follows -

 

  • Poem- Romeo and Juliet

“Why, then, o brawling love! O loving hate!

Here the word brawling and love are used together. Meaning of brawl is to fight and love is to have affection for other person.

“O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!

Here also both heavy and lightness are written together though they are opposite of each other. Heavy means which has more weight and light means which has less weight.

 

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15) Personification: It means to give human quality to an object or a non living thing.
Examples of personification are as follows -

  • Poem- Mirror

“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately”

Here the poet has personified a mirror because the mirror is describing itself.

 

 

  • Poem- The song of the rain

“I am dotted silver threads dropped from heaven
By the gods. Nature then takes me, to adorn
Her fields and valleys.”

The poet has personified rain that describes itself as dotted silver threads from heaven

 

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16) Refrain: A verse, a line, a set, or a group of lines that repeats, at regular intervals, in different stanzas.
Examples of refrain are as follows -
Poem- The duck and the Kangaroo
“Said the duck to the Kangaroo”
In this poem the sentence “Said the duck to the Kangaroo” was repeated a regular intervals. It is different from repetition because here the repetition is being done at regular intervals.

 

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17) Rhyme: The usage of words in a way to create musical effect. It can be internal rhyme or end rhyme.

Examples of rhyme are as follows -

  • Poem- The rime of the ancient mariner

 

“The guests are met, the feast is set:
May’st hear the merry din
Here the rhyming words are met and set

“The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the Kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top

Here the rhyming words are cheered-cleared and drop-top

 

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18) Repetition: It is the repeated use of a word of line to lay emphasis
Examples of repetition are as follows -

 

  • Poem- No men are foreign  

“Remember” word is repeated 5 times.

  • Poem -On killing a tree

 

“Pulled out” word is used or repeated 3 times.

 

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19) Simile: It is the comparison between two things or persons by using like or as.
Examples of simile are as follows -

  • Poem- Rime of the ancient mariner

 

“The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she”

Here the bride is compared with rose by using ‘as’

  • Poem- Snake

“He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do”

Here the snake is compared with cattle by using ‘as’

 

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20) Synecdoche: It is a word or phrase in which a part of something is used to refer to the whole of it.

Examples of synecdoche are as follows -

  • Poem- Ozymandias

“The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed”
Here the word hand is used to refer to the sculptor who made the statue of Ozymandias and heart is used to refer to King Ozymandias who gave the right expression for the statue.

 

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21) Transferred epithet: It is an adjective used with a noun refers to another noun.

  • Poem- The snake trying

“Pursuing stick”

Here it is not the stick that pursues, rather the person who carries it is pursuing

 

  • Poem- snake

“Strange- scented shade”

Here ‘scented’ is used with shade but it is the tree that has the fragrance or the scent and not the shade.

 

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