Poetic devices are the literary devices, or tools, used in a poet’s language to create poetry. It is necessary to know how to identify certain poetic devices and understand what effect they create within a poem. In this summary, you will learn to identify some common poetic devices so you can understand a poet’s intentions and a poem’s meaning.
A metaphor is a device that equates a noun (an idea, a person, a place or a thing) to something similar, or something with characteristics which are used to represent the original idea, person, place or thing. In other words, metaphors describe something as being something else in a representative or symbolic way.
She was the moon, and her head was in the stars.
A simile is similar to a metaphor because it compares two things to highlight significant qualities about ideas, people, places or objects. Instead of equating two things as a metaphor does, similes offer points of comparison. Similes use the words like and as to make these comparisons.
She was like the moon, and it was as if her head was in the stars.
Aural devices are all about the sounds of a poem. Poetry is written to be read but also to be spoken, so poets use all kinds of aural devices to create different sound qualities in their poems.
Alliteration is the repetition of particular sounds in a word, phrase, sentence or line of poetry. Depending on the sound that is repeated, alliteration can give a poem any kind of feeling such as sinister, calm, lonely or many others.
Round the rough and rugged rock, the ragged rascal rudely ran.
Sibilance is similar to alliteration and sometimes a poem can include both sibilance and alliteration at the same time. Like alliteration, sibilance is a repetition of sounds, but only the ones which contain soft -s sounds, -sh sounds, -z sounds and -zh sounds.
She sells seashells on the seashore.
Plosion is also similar to alliteration and poems can include plosion and alliteration at the same time. Like alliteration, plosion is a repetition of sounds but only the ones which contain -b sounds, -d sounds, -g sounds and -p sounds.
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Anaphora is a literary device used to create emphasis and emotion. It is the repetition of a word or phrase in quick succession at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.
Live long. Live well. Live happy.
Enjambement (sometimes also spelt 'enjambment') is when a line of poetry continues onto the next line without a pause created by a comma, a full stop, a semi-colon or anything else. It is sometimes used to create a conversational effect in the poetry or to make the poem seem quicker and build tension or suspense.
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
(From 'The Waste Land' by T.S. Eliot)
Polysyndeton is the repetition of conjunctions (words used to connect clauses or sentences such as 'and', 'but' or 'if') in quick succession. This might create a sense of urgency about the poem or it might slow the poetry down, allowing ideas to linger.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
(From 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare)
Question: What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor?
Answer: A simile is similar to a metaphor because it compares two things to highlight significant qualities about ideas, people, places or objects. Instead of equating two things as a metaphor does, similes offer points of comparison.
Question: What are some poetic devices?
Answer: Some examples of poetic devices are: metaphors, similes, alliteration, sibilance, plosion, imagery, anaphora, enjambement and polysyndeton.
Question: What are poetic devices?
Answer: Poetic devices are the literary devices, or tools, used in a poet’s language to create poetry.