The Definition Of Metaphor

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.

Common Metaphors

  • 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.

The Definition Of Simile

A lot of people get the terms “simile” and “metaphor” confused. When writers use a simile they are making a comparison between two things directly usually using the words “like” or “as”.

All similes are metaphors because you are making a comparison between two things, but not all metaphors are similes because similes refer to a comparison as previously mentioned with using the words “like” or “as”.

Similes are usually used by writers to help describe something. For example, a simile to describe the rain that was falling down from the sky and it was painful, you might say something along the lines of “the rain was like sharp needles pouring down from the sky.” If you wanted to use a metaphor, but not a simile, you could say something like “razor sharp needles poured down from the sky.” Because we know that rain falls from the sky, we still understand that the razor sharp needs are rain and not to take it in the literal sense. But to be safe and to make sure the reader doesn’t misinterpret the work, a lot of writers prefer to use similes over metaphors.

Examples of Similes In Everyday Language

  • as cute as a kitten
  • as busy as a bee
  • as light as a feather
  • fought like cats and dogs
  • boring as watching paint dry
  • sitting like a bump on a log

Example of Similes in Poetry

One of the most famous examples of a simile in a poem is none other than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The last line of the poem compares the star to a diamond. And based on science, we know that he’s not far off as carbon is what makes diamonds and is also found in stars! But of course, we know that stars are not diamonds in the literal sense.

“Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.”

The Meaning of Euphenism

In our everyday speech as well as writing there is a device that is commonly used called a euphemism. It is a word or phrase that is given to another word or phrase unrelated to the object or term being spoken of. It is commonly understood as a gentler or less harsh way of putting things.

For instance, a company that lays its employees off will make cuts to various employees. It is a common euphemism to refer to the cuts as downsizing. Another euphemism example is letting someone go for firing a person. Someone who is homeless may be spoken of with a euphemism term like “on the streets.”

There are different types such as the phonetic type. This pertains to the spoken abbreviation of an otherwise offensive term. Jeez is a shortened phonetic euphemism for Jesus which in many instances would be an offensive name to shout in public because there are people who feel the name must be revered.

Euphemisms can differ slightly from politically correct statements. If someone is visually impaired it often means that they are blind. However, the term could be construed as a euphemism but in actuality, it is a perfectly appropriate description for those who are blind or who cannot see well. It is a broad term that applies to different levels of difficulty seeing. It serves as a clearer indication of what a speaker or writer is referring to when they use the phrase visually impaired.

Common Types of Euphemisms

Abbreviations such as B.O.instead of body odor
Foreign words such as faux pas instead of mistake
Abstraction such as before I go instead of before I die
Longer words such as perspiration instead of sweat
Technical words such as gluteus maximus instead of butt
Mispronunciations such as darn instead of damn

Example of Euphemism In Literature

In this line of dialogue from Othello, Iago the main villain of the story tells the King the following:

“I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.”

Beast with the two backs is a euphemism for the act of sexual relations.

The Definition Of Diction

When you are writing a poem or a piece of prose, you have to think carefully about your diction. Diction is a term used to describe the process of choosing the words and phrases that you use within your writing. If you select each word with care, you’ll be able to say things in a more concise and effective way.

Many writers only have a limited understanding of the concept of diction. If you deepen your understanding of diction, you’ll become a much more effective writer. When selecting words there are three things to keep in mind:

  1. The word is accurate
  2. The word fits within the context of the piece
  3. The word is easily understandable

Finding Words With The Right Sound

When you’re selecting words, you can’t just think about their meaning. You also have to think about the way they sound. Many famous poets, like T.S. Elliot, are known for playing with alliteration. Considering the number of syllables in a word is also important.

It’s a good idea to use a thesaurus when you write. That way, you can experiment with different words and find one with the kind of sound that you want.

Eliminating Unnecessary Words

When a writer uses too many words, it can be difficult to determine what they are actually trying to say. Unneeded words can cloud your intent and remove clarity from your writing.

When you’re focusing on your diction, you need to think about whether or not a word is improving your piece. Don’t be afraid to cut words that are making your intent less clear.

Types of Diction

As mention in #2, context is important when selecting words. In certain situations, you need to be formal and have formal diction and there are other times where we can be a bit more relaxed and use informal diction. You speak to your boss in a different manner than you’d speak to a friend. Also don’t forget about slang and colloquialisms – an overuse of these can leave the reader confused.

Example of Diction in Poetry

“A frosty winter night – my love,
Chill wind whispers sweet adoration.
Binds my body with the finest wool,
The darkest of sweet sensations.”
John Anderson, Night, My Lover

In the above excerpt from Night, My Lover by John Anderson, notice how he uses words with ‘w’ and ‘s’ sounds. He did this to portray peaceful calming feelings when reading the poem. In the even that John said “Cold gales talk sugary love”, the meaning or feeling of the poem would completely change. This is how fiction comes into play when writing poetry and evoking a feeling.

What Is The Definition Of Allusion?

Don Quixote

An allusion is a quick but indirect reference made of a place, thing, or person, or a reference to an idea of cultural, historical, political or literary importance. This reference does not describe the person or thing in detail but is merely a passing comment.

The writer of the allusion expects that the reader will have enough knowledge of the person or thing that he or she will be able to recognize it and grasp its importance.

For example, a literary allusion would be, “I don’t support this quixotic idea.” In this instance, quixotic would imply that the idea is “ridiculous and impractical” which is a reference or allusion to “Don Quixote,” a story by Cervantes about the misadventures of a foolish and delusional knight.

More Allusion Examples

  • “The estate’s lavish landscape was like a Garden of Eden.” This biblical allusion refers to the garden from which Adam and Eve were banished in the book of Genesis.
  • “That Kevin is quite the Romeo.” Romeo is a literary allusion to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a play about star-crossed lovers.
  • “Ever since he landed that acting role, he’s gone all ‘Hollywood’ on us.” This modern-day allusion refers to a place Hollywood, which is known for movies, actors, shallow personalities and big egos.
  • “That candidate is just another Nixon.” This is a political allusion that refers to Richard Nixon’s reputation for being a liar and untrustworthy.

The Use Of Allusion

Allusions are often used by writers to distill a complex idea or emotion down into a simple word or phrase. The writer can convey an atmosphere, a character trait, or an emotion using a brief allusion.

The writer can also appeal to a certain audience and gain their favor by using allusions to a subject of which the readers are comfortable or partial to. For example, using biblical allusions in order to appeal to readers with religious backgrounds.

Use of Allusion In Poetry

One famous example of an allusion in poetry is found in Keats’s “Ode To Grecian Urn.”

Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?”

In this verse, Sylvan is a reference to the half man/half goat deity in Greek Mythology.

Do You Ever Wonder What The Poetic Term “Syntax” Means?

Do you ever wonder what the poetic term “syntax” means? If you ever have to read poetry, especially for an educational class where analysis is part of your course work, then syntax is one of many aspects of writing, literature, and written genres or forms like poetry that you are going to wind up studying. Thus, being curious about the definition and practical nature of the term, as it relates to poetry, is quite understandable.

It’s even more understandable if you write poetry. Your desire to write poems is probably just a creative instinct that flows out of you naturally, and the words likely flow just as easily. However, learning all you can about your craft at a critical or academic and technical level is likely to help your poetry and understanding of the art form.

Syntax is generally the sets of processes, principles, and rules that dictate sentence structure within a language or form of literature. Punctuation and word order are of particular importance.

The word “syntax” itself is traced back all the way to Ancient Greece, from a word loosely translated as “coordination” formed from the base parts of “together” and “an ordering.” The concept of syntax as a school of thought is often traced back simultaneously to Greece for Western languages and to Ancient India for Asian and Eastern languages and their related dialects.

In the realm of poetry, the order of words in a sentence can emphasize or empower or even demote the energy of particular words, particularly subjects and verbs. Some poets even deliberately fracture their chosen syntax beyond what is usually acceptable in the language they are writing in, betting on the reader being able to understand points made outside of the boundaries of conventional syntax.

What Does Spondee Mean?

A poet needs to be a master of language. Poets should have a deep understanding of words and how to use them. That’s why poets should take the time to familiarize themselves with terms like spondee.

What Does Spondee Mean?

A spondee is a beat within a poetic line. That beat should consist of two accented syllables. An equal amount of stress should be placed on both syllables in the word. Examples of words that contain spondee include “faithful,” “railroad,” “baseball,” “rainbow,” and “highway.”

When Is Spondee Used?

Spondee is used in a wide range of poems. It commonly appears in poems that use five metrical feet. You’ll see it in trochaic meter, iambic meter, and dactylic meter. You may also occasionally see it in poetic forms.

Most poets do not write entire poems in spondaic meter. Instead, they combine it with other forms. Spondee allows a poet to create extremely interesting metric patterns that can make a poem more appealing to listen to.

Poets That Use Spondee

Spondee has been used by many great and famous poets throughout history. For example, spondee is used in the famous poem “The Song of Hiawatha,” which was written by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow. Spondee also appears in poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson and Gerard Manley Hopkins. It even appears in the work of William Shakespeare!

Spondee is still used by a number of modern poems. Read poems carefully and keep a watchful eye out for spondee and spondaic meter. You’ll be able to find a number of examples.

Spondee is something that every poet should have an understanding of. As a poet, the more you know about words and their rhythms, the better. Researching spondee will allow you to select the ideal words for your poetry. You’ll be able to create poems that will be remembered.

What Is The Meaning Of The Poetic Term Anapest?

An anapest can be defined as a metrical foot consisting of three syllables, the first two are unstressed followed by one stressed syllable, often referred to as “reverse dactyl” as it follows the rapid pace of the dactyl where the emphasis is placed on the first syllable. Examples of anapest in the English language are words such as “contradict” and “understand”, both of which contain three syllables with the accent on the last syllable. Anapestic words are more common in languages other than English such as French, and many phrases that are borrowed from the French language such as “art nouveau” and “haute couture” contain anapestic words.

Examples of the use of anapests in poetry include “The Sick Rose” by William Blake, “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H. Auden and “Twas The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore – which is almost entirely made up of anapests. An Anapestic tetrameter in poetry contains four anapestic metrical feet in each line, each foot having two syllables that are unstressed with the stress on the final syllable. Foot refers to the most basic unit of a poem’s meter and is a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables making up a line of the meter.

The word “anapest”, also written “anapaest” has an identical definition to “antidactylus” and means “struck back” in Greek. A dactyl is a metric foot where the stress is on the first syllable followed by two that are unstressed, which is why an anapest is considered to be a reversed dactyl.
Three forms of anapestic meter:

1. Anapestic Trimeter with 3 metrical anapestic feet each with three syllables giving each line a total of 9 syllables;
2. Anapestic Tetrameter with 4 metrical anapestic feet each having 3 syllables in anapestic form with a total of 12 syllables in each line;
3. Anapestic Hexameter the least common anapest – contains 6 anapestic feet with 3 syllables each giving a total of 18 syllables per line.

Some idioms in the English language are common examples of anapest such as the phrases: “get a life”, “costs an arm and a leg”, “feeling under the weather”, “at the drop of a hat” and the song by Cole Porter: “In the Still of the Night”. Popular poetic forms of Limerick often contain playful anapestic meter.

What is a Couplet?

Poetry is literary work that employs special rhythm and style with emphasis placed on feelings and ideas. There are different ways of engaging in writing poetry, and all of these styles are artistic and quite beautiful. One that is used quite frequently is the Couplet.

What does the poetic term of Couplet mean?

Simply put, a Couplet is two lines of poetic verse in the same meter or rhythm. These two lines rhyme, and form one unit. A Couplet is short and sweet, giving across its idea and emotion with these two lines of verse. Just the word “couple” within the term points to how a Couplet operates; two things that form one.

A place where an individual would find a myriad of Couplets is within the works of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare would often end his sonnets with a Couplet that would summarize the main ideas within his poem. Another famous writer of Couplets was Alexander Pope, often using closed Couplets to get his ideas across.

What is the purpose of a Couplet?

Simply put, a Couplet aims to make a point and a lasting impression with the idea contained within it. However, it is important to not overuse the Couplet, so that when it is used, its effectiveness is not lost. Rather than being numbing to the mind, a Couplet should be thought-provoking, adding to its beauty and the power of verse.

What is an example of a Couplet?

Some famous Couplets from Shakespeare include:

  • “Blessed are you whose worthiness gives scope,/Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope.”
  • “So, till the judgment that yourself arise,/You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.”
  • “Tir’d with all these, from these would I be gone,/Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.”
  • “You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen,/Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.”
  • “How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,/If thy sweet virtue answer, not thy show!”

In conclusion, a Couplet joins two powerful verses that aim to make a lasting point with the reader, not forsaking the beauty and art of poetic expression.

The Meaning of the Poetic Term Caesura

A quick way to describe the term caesura is that it works something like a verbal comma. It is a word of Latin origin which means cut or hewn. In poetry, it is a break in the verse where one phrase comes to an end and another begins.

Caesuras also occur in music. There they, too, represent a break similar to that which occurs in poetry. When used in music they offer pauses where singers have time to catch their breath. In poetry, the speaker also gets a chance to pause to take a breath. In Greek or Latin verse it occurs technically at breaks in the words in a metrical foot.

A simple way to put it is that everyone breathes in between speaking. When they say one phrase, they pause, take a breath and say the next phrase. These pauses are natural and occur in the rhythm of anyone’s speech but no one speaks that they “Went to the store comma and then went home.” A simple pause in the speech indicates this.

The caesura must be implemented in poetry for dramatic effect as well as out of necessity in between a line or sentence. The notation for a pause like this is a comma in most modern poetry. In medieval times a virgule or single line denoted such a pause.

In music, a similar notation in the form of two slanted lines is used to mark pauses in between words or bars where a breath is needed. The marking would technically also indicate that a musician or singer take a quarter rest although in poetry it is usually a single breath.

The epic poem of Beowulf is a great example of the use of this device. Each line ends in a caesura or poetic pause as illustrated in the first passage below:

LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he!
To him an heir was afterward born,
a son in his halls, whom heaven sent
to favor the folk, feeling their woe
that erst they had lacked an earl for leader
so long a while; the Lord endowed him,
the Wielder of Wonder, with world’s renown.
Famed was this Beowulf: far flew the boast of him,
son of Scyld, in the Scandian lands.
So becomes it a youth to quit him well
with his father’s friends, by fee and gift,
that to aid him, aged, in after days,
come warriors willing, should war draw nigh,
liegemen loyal: by lauded deeds
shall an earl have honor in every clan.
Forth he fared at the fated moment,
sturdy Scyld to the shelter of God.
Then they bore him over to ocean’s billow,
loving clansmen, as late he charged them,
while wielded words the winsome Scyld,
the leader beloved who long had ruled….
In the roadstead rocked a ring-dight vessel,
ice-flecked, outbound, atheling’s barge:
there laid they down their darling lord
on the breast of the boat, the breaker-of-rings,
by the mast the mighty one. Many a treasure
fetched from far was freighted with him.
No ship have I known so nobly dight
with weapons of war and weeds of battle,
with breastplate and blade: on his bosom lay
a heaped hoard that hence should go
far o’er the flood with him floating away.
No less these loaded the lordly gifts,
thanes’ huge treasure, than those had done
who in former time forth had sent him
sole on the seas, a suckling child.
High o’er his head they hoist the standard,
a gold-wove banner; let billows take him,
gave him to ocean. Grave were their spirits,
mournful their mood. No man is able
to say in sooth, no son of the halls,
no hero ‘neath heaven, — who harbored that freight!