Poetic devices are a way of helping readers understand and interpret poems.
By using poetic devices, writers are able to make their readers feel as if they are experiencing what is happening in the poem.
Here’s everything you need to know about poetic devices!
Poetic Devices List
Poetic devices help readers understand poems by helping them interpret the writer’s experience and ideas.
In this section, we’ll look at some of the most common poetic devices used to accomplish this goal. Here’s are some of the most commonly used poetic devices:
Poetic Devices Alliteration
Alliteration is a poetic device that uses the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or nearly adjacent connected words.
An example of alliteration can be found in this example from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes…” In this example, the “f” sound in the words “from,” “forth,” “fatal,” and “foes,” creates the alliteration.
Alliteration can be used to emphasize certain words or phrases by repeating the same consonant sound multiple times. The repetition of consonants creates an interesting effect that often draws attention to itself, which can make it easier for readers to remember what they’ve read.
Poetic Devices Simile
A simile is a comparison between two unlike things that use “like” or “as.”
For example: You’re like a dream come true. In this example, “you” is being compared to a dream that has come true. Similar to metaphors, similes are used to contribute to a readers’ understanding of a complex idea or emotion by comparing it to something they are already familiar with.
Repetition in Poems
Repetition is a literary device that can be used to create a rhythm, add emphasis and create rhyme schemes. It can also be used to reinforce a theme, establish tone or make connections between ideas.
A well-known example of repetition in poetry is the poem “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman. In this poem, Whitman repeats the phrase “o!” as well as the words “for,” and “heart” just to name a few.
Personification Literary Device
The poetic device personification is a type of metaphor through which a poet gives human characteristics to an object or animal.
A simple example of personification is, “The wind whispered in my ear.”
In this example, it’s as if the wind had a voice that sounded like it was whispering something to me. And while wind can’t really whisper, personification is used by poets because it makes their writing more interesting and more compelling–it helps them convey their message better than they could without using this technique.
Poetic Devices Consonance
Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds. And, yes, alliteration is a type of consonance.
Consonant sounds are letters that make a noise when you pronounce them, like b and d. When you repeat these same consonant sounds in words that are close together, it’s called near-consonance; when they’re far apart from each other, it’s called long-distance consonance.
Example: “The cat sat on the mat” has near-consonance because there are two instances where c appears next to each other (cat/mat). In contrast, “The blackbirds flocked together at dawn” has long distance between its instances of b–one at the beginning and one at the end of this sentence–but they’re still considered part of its overall patterning because they occur consecutively within a larger sequence (blackbirds flocked together at dawn).
Poetic Devices Allusion
Allusions are references to commonly-known ideas or texts that are not immediately obvious. They often appear as hints or clues, and they can be very subtle in nature.
Allusions may be used to make a point, or they may simply add depth to a poem by evoking a feeling or mood associated with something else.
Allusion in poetry refers to an indirect reference made through language (such as by quoting someone else), but allusion can also take place when there is no quotation involved at all–it’s simply implied through imagery or symbolism.
In “The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe makes allusions to Greek mythology when describing the bird’s appearance as well as its behavior towards him: “Thou art no bird…thy pinions are jet-black; Thou hast the hue of night…”
These lines suggest that this raven is more than just an ordinary bird because it has jet black feathers instead of gray ones like most other birds do, additionally, that distinct coloring could only occur because of something “other-worldly” like the acts of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus.
Meter in Poetry
Meter is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. Meter can be measured in beats per line (iambic pentameter) or foot per line (trimeter).
Meter helps create the mood of a poem by regulating how fast or slow it should be read aloud; this contributes to the feelings of the reader as the text progresses.
Hyperbole as a Poetic Device
Hyperbole is a poetic device in which the writer exaggerates to make a point. It’s used to emphasize a strong feeling.
An example of hyperbole in poetry is in the line, “One by one she scorched you with her radiance” from the poem Poem to Some of My Recent Poems by James Tate.
In this example, the woman is so beautiful that her radiance has scorched the onlookers. This is an over-exaggeration, of course, but it makes the reader understand just how incredibly beautiful she is and contributes to both the tone and the author’s purpose.
Poetic Devices Rhyme
Rhyme is the repetition of sounds in two or more words.
Rhyme can be used for several different purposes:
- To emphasize an idea or theme by repeating it through rhyme (for example, “I have a dream!”)
- To show how two things are similar because they rhyme with each other (for example, “My love is like a red rose.”)
- To make readers feel something specific about the subject matter being discussed
If you’re looking for a resource to teach sound strategies in poetry, here’s my secret weapon.
Poetic Devices Are Used In Songs
Song lyrics use many of the same poetic devices as poetry. Because poetic devices are used to emphasize ideas, they work particularly well in songs. In fact, one could even argue that songs are just poems set to music!
Some of the most memorable songs use poetic devices to their advantage.
Here are some examples:
- “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” by Adele uses repetition to emphasize how much she misses an ex-lover who has moved on with another lover. The chorus repeats “Send my love” over and over again until it becomes almost hypnotic as each time she sings it the audience gets closer to understanding that this relationship is truly over for good.
- “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson uses alliteration (“shy”/”shy”) throughout its lyrics to create an effect similar to rhyme but without using actual rhymes (which would be too obvious).
Songs With Poetic Devices
A perfect example of how to use these features effectively is Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” In this song, Swift uses almost all of the poetic devices mentioned in this post.
Some examples include:
“I can read you like a magazine”
In this line, Swift compares how familiar her ex lovers’ body language is to how easy it is to read a magazine
“Skies/lies,” “Storms/thorns,” “Far/scar”
“Love’s a game, wanna play?”
In this line, Swift is comparing love to a game. She later extends this metaphor by referencing “players” in the game that creates a double meaning intended to refer to men who lead women on as “players.”
“So it’s gonna be forever/ Or it’s gonna go down in flames/”
In this line, Swift creates a hyperbole leaving the person to whom she’s speaking with only two options: either their love will last forever, or it will end catastrophically.
If you’re looking for even more songs that make great use of poetic devices, check out some of these:
- “Anti-Hero” by Taylor Swift
- “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
- “Fireflies” by Owl City
- “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran
- “Let it Go” by Idinia Menzel
- “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
- “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys
- “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons
Poetic devices enhance the experience of readers (and listeners) by intensifying emotion and meaning.
They can help deepen the meaning of a text and a reader’s connection to that meaning.
However, this important tool isn’t just in the toolkit of poets, but in songwriters’ toolkits as well.
Poems and lyrics alike are chock full with this figurative language and the analysis of each type of text can provide a rich and meaningful experience for students!
Hey, if you loved this post, you’ll want to download a FREE copy of my guide to streamlined grading.
I know how hard it is to do all the things as an English teacher, so I’m excited to share some of my best strategies for reducing the grading overwhelm.