Literary Devices Used in Poetry

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Literary Devices – Poetry

Allusion: An event or fact from an external context assumed to be known by the reader (e.g. historical, biblical, etc.). An allusion can increase one’s understanding of the poem in question by drawing parallels with other subjects.

Anthropomorphism: The showing or treating of animals, gods and objects as if they are human in appearance, character or behaviour.

Apostrophe: Something that addresses an object, abstract idea, or person who is dead as though it could reply. E.g. Antony’s cry in Julius Caesar: “O Judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts”; Wordsworth’s appeal in London 1812: “Milton! Though shoulds’t be living at this hour . . .”

Connotation: The emotional associations implied or suggested by a word; they extend the meaning of a word beyond its literal meaning.

Denotation: The precise, literal meaning of a word.

Enjambement (a.k.a. run-on line): a line which runs into another without any break

Extended Figure: An apostrophe, simile, metaphor, etc. which is developed throughout a poem.

Hyperbole: Use of exaggeration for emphasis, serious, or humorous effects: “There were tons of people trying to get tickets to that concert.”

Imagery: language that (normally, though not always) evokes the senses. • Visual: relating to sight. (The most frequent type of imagery.) • Aural or auditory imagery: relating to sound.

• Olfactory imagery: relating to smell.
• Gustatory imagery: relating to taste.
• Tactile imagery: relating to touch.
• Kinaesthetic imagery: relating to movement and bodily effort. • Abstract imagery: appealing to the intellect or a concept. Images are often not exclusive to one type – they often overlap.

E.g. "The tide of my death came whispering like this
Soiling my body with its tireless voice."
- from Peter Redgrove's “Lazarus and the Sea”

These two lines a clearly auditory,...
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