Writing poetry is a divine endowment. People who are able to write good poems are considered to be blessed and appreciated by literature enthusiasts. Poetry writing is as old as the language and with the passage of time, many technical aspects have become clear.
Poetries should have specific elements irrespective of the type of poetry. There are several types of Poems, like Ghazals, Nazms, Free verse, and more. In this blog, we shall look into the elements of poetry, which bring the true essence out of it.
Imagery in poetry is the pictorial depiction of what you are writing in it. Including visual details like colour, texture, weather, smell, taste and other in a series of words gives a virtual tour to the reader. Thereby, enhancing the poetry reading experience. We shall consider the following example in this regard :
Here is an excerpt from the poem ‘Preludes’ written by T. S. Eliot :
“The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.”
-T. S. Eliot
Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.
Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.
Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.”
When one reads this poem, they get a clear picture of what Mr Eliot and Mr Tennyson want to convey through these lines. They take us on a journey to their neighbourhoods, where we can see, smell, listen to everything they want us to. Reading such poetry leaves an enriching experience on one’s mind and mesmerizes them. We highly encourage you to read the complete poem here and here respectively.
Figures of Speech
Figures of Speech are the ornaments of the language which enrich the reading experience and are fascinating to the mind. Some of the figures of speech generally used in poetry are :
The sound of an alphabet is pleasingly repeated.
“ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping.”
– From ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allen Poe.
“Ah, William, we’re weary of weather,”
said the sunflowers, shining with dew.
“Our traveling habits have tired us.
Can you give us a room with a view?”
Here the sounds of w, k, and n are repeated in ‘weak and weary’, ‘quaint and curious’ and ‘nodded, nearly and napping’ respectively. Also “William we’re weary of weather” and others.
Antithesis is using two opposite ideas in the same sentence in order to justify and supplement our thoughts.
- “To err is human; to forgive divine.” – Alexander Pope.
- “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” – William Shakespeare.
- “Man proposes, God disposes.” – Source unknown.
In order to create more emphasis or humour, some aspects of a poem are over-exaggerated. This exaggeration is known as hyperbole.
As I Walked Out One Evening
“I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street.”
To His Coy Mistress
“A hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast;
But thirty thousand to the rest.”
As we all know that China will hardly meet Africa, and it’s nearly impossible for a river to jump over a mountain, these figures of speech are called hyperbole. They enrich the reading experience of the reader and are one of the secret ingredients in writing awesome poetry.
A Simile is a direct comparison of two unlikely or different things. One usually gets confused with simile and metaphor. A simile can be a metaphor but a metaphor can’t be a simile. To identify a simile, one can spot ‘as’ and ‘like’ amongst the words, showing a direct comparison.
“Jerry’s mind wandered during class
Like a balloon floating up in the air.
While he daydreamed about eating lunch
His stomach growled loud like a bear.
His classmates laughed like hyenas,
Which made him feel like a fool.
From now on he’d listen to his mom
And eat breakfast before coming to school.”
“Poised between going on and back, pulled
Both ways taut like a tightrope-walker,
Fingertips pointing the opposites,
Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball
Or a kid skipping rope, come on, come on,
Running a scattering of steps sidewise,
How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases,
Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird,
He’s only flirting, crowd him, crowd him,
Delicate, delicate, delicate, delicate-now!”
Kelly and Robert have used simile in their poems efficiently. Using simile in poems convinces the reader better as examples are given as a direct comparison. Simile attempts to convey the intensity of the situation better.
Metaphors are an indirect comparison of two different aspects. You won’t find ‘as’ and ‘like’ in a metaphor. They enhance the meaning of poetry by giving vivid examples for comparison. Many great poets have used metaphors in their poetries for ages.
“Stand tall, oh mighty oak, for all the world to see.
Your strength and undying beauty forever amazes me.
Though storm clouds hover above you,
Your branches span the sky
In search of the radiant sunlight you
Count on to survive.
When the winds are high and restless and
You lose a limb or two,
It only makes you stronger.
We could learn so much from you.”
-Kathy J Parenteau
“A sharpened dagger stabbed in his heart,
Ripping in two, ripping apart.
It took only a few words, but her words cut him deep,
Stealing emotions, making him weak.
A two sided mirror true in reflection,
A double edged knife cutting connections,
A place in his heart forever reserved
For the one that he loved but didn’t deserve.
She twisted the dagger; it tore him apart.
She stole what was left; she stole a broken heart.”
Personification is giving human qualities to non-human things for the sake of entertainment. Poetries that personify are very popular with elders and youngsters alike. You may get overwhelmed by the power of personification.
“Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?”
– Shel Silverstein
“When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
Personification gives a boost to the imagination, enriching the poetry reading experience thereby.
If you know some other poems with similar secret ingredients, please share with us in the comments. Try writing a line or two with these ingredients in the comment box, we shall love to read some!