Poetic Devices (Definitions with Examples) Allegory: a story in which the characters, settings, and events stand for abstract or moral concepts. Example: The morality play “Everyman” deals with the death of a character that represents himself and every human being. Example: Pilgrim’s Progress: Garth telling Bellicent the tale of a youth who wanted to climb a tree to get a golden egg laid by a royal eagle (a story told in symbols). Alliteration: the repetition of initial consonant sounds. Example: “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought / I summon up remembrance of things past” (Shakespeare, “Sonnet 30”). Allusion: reference to a statement, person, place, event, or thing that is known from literature, history, religion, mythology, politics, sports, science, or popular culture. Example: He had the patience of Job. Apostrophe: a figure of speech in which the speaker directly addresses an absent or dead person, an abstract quality, or something nonhuman as if it were present and capable of responding. Example: “And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer / Before all temples th’ upright heart and pure / Instruct me… (Milton, Paradise Lost). Assonance: the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant sounds in words that are close together. Example: “My words like silent raindrops fell…” (Paul Simon, “Sounds of Silence”). Example: “Thou foster child of silence and slow time” (John Keats, “Ode to a Grecian Urn”). Conceit: a fanciful and elaborate figure of speech that makes a surprising connection between two seemingly dissimilar things. Example: John Donne’s comparison of separated lovers to the legs of a compass. Consonance: the repetition of consonant sounds. This repetition is not limited to initial consonant sounds. Example: “…and high school girls with clear skin smiles…” (Janis Ian, “At 17”). Dissonance (cacophony): a harsh, discordant combination of sounds. It is usually created by... [continues]
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