Poetic Devices Rhyme



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Poetic Devices
Rhyme the repetition of sounds at the ends of words

Example: From a bungling, noisy, happy bear

You have nought a single thing to fear.


Slant rhyme or near rhyme the sound of the accented syllables is similar, but not exactly the same
Example: Come on you and I and let us wander

To Australia, the land down-under.


Internal rhyme occurs at some place after the beginning and before the closing syllables

Example: He went to bed dead from working so hard.


Alliteration both a generic and specific term for the repetition of consonant and vowel sounds. In the specific sense, alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds:
Example: lonely little lady or Better Buy Buick
Assonance the repetition of vowel sounds

Example: steamy fleet, heavy levy, or cool fool in the motor pool
Consonance the repetition of final consonant sounds
Example: odds and ends, find … abound
Onomatopoeia the use of a word whose sound suggests its meaning

Example: the bell clanged, the lion roared, or Batman zapped him
Repetition repeating the same line, phrase, or word to achieve a sound effect

Imagery the representation through language of sense experience. It is the principal device by which the poet attempts to affect all the faculties of the reader. The abstract statement, “War is horror,” is directed primarily to the intellect; it has neither the physical and emotional appeal nor the total effectiveness of a mental image which pictures the mangled body of a young soldier writhing in pain
Example: Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock kneed, coughing like hangs, we can curse through sludge,

--- drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.


Metaphor an implied comparison. Generically, it can also stand for all types of comparisons. Other general terms for imagery are trope and figure of speech.
Example: I’m a riddle in nine syllables

And elephant, a ponderous house,

A melon strolling on two tendrils.

Simile a direct comparison using like or as
Example: He is like a tiger in the ring

The ironwork on the balconies sags like rotten lace

Like a stab from behind, the phone rings

He was as nervous as a bull in fly-time


Personification consists of giving the attributes of a human to an animal, object, or idea
Example: Love smiled on him.

Love walked right in and stole the shadows away.

The sea that bares her bosom to the moon

Death stand above me, whispering low.


Metonymy a figure of speech in which some significant aspect or detail of an experience is used to represent the whole experience, or, put more simply, the use of the part for the whole
Example: Here come the redskins!

Here come the palefaces!

The port was full of tars and salts, old hands all.
Paradox an apparent contradiction that is nevertheless somehow true

Example: Believe him, he has know the world too long,

And seen the death of much immoral song.
Where ignorance is bliss,

‘Tis folly to be wise.



Overstatement (Hyperbole) simply poetic exaggerations
Example: You could have knocked me over with a feather!

A man who could make so vile a pun would not scruple

to pick a pocket.

All night I made my bed to swim; with my tear I

dissolved my couch.
Understatement obviously, says less than it means

Example:

Hold within your hand an hour

A bit of lighted fire

And you’ll experience a sensation

Of excessive and disagreeable warmth.


Irony a situation, or a use of language, involving some kind of incongruity or discrepancy. There are three kinds:


  1. Verbal irony consists of saying the opposite of what is meant:




  1. Dramatic Irony is present when there is discrepancy between what the speaker says and what the author means, for instance, when Oedipus calls down a double punishment if the guilty one is “from his house.” Oedipus is thinking of his servants; Sophocles (and the audience) know he is the guilty one.


Example: I’m handsome, witty, and likable; but the best thing

about me is my modesty.




  1. Irony of Situation occurs when there is a discrepancy between the actual circumstances, and those which would seem appropriate, e.g., if a man and his second wife, on the first night of their honeymoon, are accidentally seated at the theater next to the man’s first wife.


Symbol an item which means more than what it is in itself; it accumulates meaning beyond the literal definition. A poet may use a rose merely as a flower, but he may add something to its meaning until it becomes a symbol of perfect
beauty. He may use darkness as a symbol of death; death strikes us as darkness, but much more than mere darkness. A metaphor used to its fullest will become a symbol.


Following is a list of questions that you may apply to any poem.


  1. Who is the speaker? What kind of person is speaking?

  2. To whom is the person speaking? What king of person is he or she?

  3. What is the occasion?

  4. What is the setting in time (hour, season, century, etc.)?

  5. What is the setting in place (indoors or outdoors, city or country, land or sea, region, country, hemisphere, etc.)?

  6. What is the central purpose of the poem?

  7. State the central idea or theme of the poem in a sentence.

  8. Discuss the tone of the poem. How is it achieved?

  9. a. Outline the poem so as to show its structure and development or
    b. Summarize the events of the poem.

  10. Paraphrase the poem.

  11. Discuss the diction of the poem. Point out words that are particularly well chosen and explain why.

  12. Discuss imagery of the poem. What kinds of imagery are used?

  13. Point out examples of metaphor, simile, personification and explain their appropriateness.

  14. Point out and explain any symbols. If the poem is allegorical, explain the allegory.

  15. Point out and explains examples of paradox, overstatement, understatement, and irony. What is their function?

  16. Point out and explain any allusions. What is their function?

  17. Point out significant examples of sound repetition and explain their function.

  18. a. What is the meter of the poem?

  19. Copy the poem and mark it scanson.

  20. Discuss the adaptation of sound to sense.

  21. Criticize and evaluate the poem.


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