Writers don’t always say exactly what they mean. Sometimes, writers use vivid expressions so that they can more accurately convey the feeling behind their words. This is known as a metaphor. A metaphor is one of many different types of literary devices. When a writer uses a metaphor, they use words or phrases to describe a situation even if those particular words don’t literally apply to the situation.
Metaphors can be found in the work of nearly every writer. As a matter of fact, metaphors are considered to be an essential component of writing. With that said, you need to select the metaphors that you use with care.
Find Metaphors That Other People Can Understand
Metaphors should make your intent more clear, not less clear. The metaphors you use need to be something that your reader can understand.
When you select a metaphor, you need to think about whether or not that metaphor makes sense to other people. Have people read over your work. Ask them if they understand your metaphors. If your intent isn’t coming through, you may have to use a different metaphor in your work.
Find Metaphors That Are Vivid And Expressive
While you should pick broad metaphors, you shouldn’t use a metaphor to say something bland or cliché. You should try to pick metaphors that are vivid and expressive. When people read over your metaphors, a clear image should appear in their head.
We do tend to discuss metaphors in song lyrics but metaphors are used in poetry quite often.
- a sheet of snow
- a heart of gold
- elephant in the room
- love is a battlefield
- stench of failure
Metaphors in Poetry
One of the most famous metaphors used in Poetry is found in William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 also known as Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
In this poem, Shakespeare is using a Summer’s Day as a metaphor for love.