Poetic devices list
Oh yes, and here we thought devices only has to do with connections and technology, turns out literature has figurative devices that plug into the reader’s brain, with some one-way connections while others need a bit of a short circuit to jumpstart the reader’s mind. Here in the poetic devices list, you are going to find out just how many connections one can make to directly reach their reader.
Let’s dive right in, I hope this will not be your first and last dive, maybe deep down you might realise this isn’t for you…
Okay, I admit, bad joke, that’s why I don’t scuba dive, but my dog does, he thinks he’s Scuba Dooby Doo!
Some literary devices are also used in poetry.
1) Juxtaposition — Literary Device
Two or more ideas are at a comparison or contrast placed together side by side.
“Merry and tragical? Tedious and brief?
That is hot ice, and wondrous strange snow!
How shall we find the concord of this discord?”
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene i
“My eyes remain closed cause my highs are lows
I’m feeling the blows of rain cause my pain is cold
Now who am I, a man or a pawn in life?
Living day to day, I pray am I wrong or right”
One of my personal favourites is this sentence from Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas
Curse, blessAll’s fair in love and war.
, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
2) Anaphora — Literary Device
This is a rhetorical device, repeating sentences or a sequence of words. It is a figure of speech that repeats at the beginning of clauses, sentences or phrases.
“In every cry of every Man, “London,” William Blake
3) Internal and End rhyme — Sound Device
This one is an obvious one on this poetic devices list. Old poetry almost antique poetry as I put it has a good reason why words rhyme, after all, poetry is rhythmic, a dance with/of words. Modern poetry (contemporary) is arty yet comes with strict rules so to say to create something truly striking! Yes, striking, I like striking people with my poetical sense. Man, eh, Woman! I will even try to beat Mr Shakespeare, his past lives if I can, yah! “How boring, she’s competing with a dead man,” you must be saying. At least Adam Shulman (married to Anne Hathaway) is now an actor, if he was William Shakespeare Reborn, now there’s a screenplay I can start casting Adam Shulman who in this life is an actor and Anne Hathaway an actress. I guess, no need to look for the main cast hey!
In contemporary writing, there will likely be complexed structure played with genius rather than end to end rhyming. It’s likely that the rhyming happens within the sentences or across multiple lines hence why it’s called internal rhyme/rhyming. Internal rhymes occur within a single line. See why poetry can be played around with, words can even be juxtaposed.
With internal rhyming and contemporary poetry, the poet’s skill gets challenged with the choices of words they have to seek this often limits the poet.
Standing brave in the caves,
could call to lost kids in the crowd.
Lure them from the march of slaves,
with hearts so open, growing proud.
Macbeth, William Shakespeare
4) Alliteration — Sound Device
Ever read Macbeth? Yes, I cheated back in the day, I went to see the play and watched the movie. Who knew I’d see the real Dunsinane Hill in Scotland one day? I might just pick up the book again, maybe this time I’d actually know what’s going on, after relearning English in the year 2000 all over again, oh, I forgot, maybe I learnt Scottish English instead… just kidding Scots. That’s why J. K. Rowling has come so far…
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes;
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.
Alliteration is when words of similar sound follow each other forming a sentence as you can hear in the example above, you will also hear as you speak the “I” coming across in the words, “loins”, “lovers” and “life.”
4) Conceit — Literary Device
Conceit is conceited to have its own name when it could just be called Metaphor, but because it’s an extended metaphor it’s been given the name Conceit. I’m not generally judgemental but don’t you think conceit sounds like a stuck-up?
Oh! But you will see the reason here, conceit has to run through the entire poem, it’s not enough to make its presence in just one sentence or in one stanza. It forms the core of the poem. Conceit is usually unconventional and more intellectual.
Let’s quite with conceit here because we do not want it to take over this whole poetic devices list.
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this,
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do.
They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take. Romeo and Juliet — William Shakespeare
The above is a genius flirtation with Romeo and Juliet using extended metaphors such as shrines, prayer, and an indirect way of flirting but not being so straight out according to the scene.
A full explanation is provided on this link What is poetic conceit?
5) Euphony & Cacophony — Sound Device
There is one example that will speak for itself in describing euphony.
“So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” William Shakepeare
Euphony makes sound pleasing and harmonious to the ears when spoken.
This is the opposite of Euphony. The sentences sound harder and non-rhythmic.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,an
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Lewis Carroll’s nonsense Jabberwocky, in his Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There
6) Metonymy & Synecdoche — Literary Device
Metonymy is a symbolism closely associated with a concept that is described in a sentence. It replaces a ‘part for a part’ such as an object which is usually a noun. Usually, there is a pre-existing relationship between the two.
The pen is mightier than the sword — Edward Bulwer Lytton’s play Cardinal Richelieu
This one is a popular example
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
“Pen” meaning written word.
“O, for a draught of vintage.”
“Sword” meaning military aggression.
Ode to a nightingale by John Keats
(Vintage being wine)
Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, serpent stung me, so the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
b) Synecdoche — Literary Device
Synecdoche replaces a part for a whole.
You can access this link to make the connection.
In a song
7) Apostrophe — Literary Device
Literary work “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
In poetry the apostrophe is not a punctuation mark for plural nouns, this is usually a surprise to see on a poetic devices’ list, it is usually used to address an absent person, an abstract idea or thing that can’t respond in reality.
Assonance Example Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dark fox gone to ground” — Grantchester Meadows by Pink Floyd Consonance Example In the forests of the night; The Tyger by William Blake
Don’t tell my heart, my achy breaky heart, I just don’t think he’d understand
(Juliet is unaware that Romeo is nearby she addresses him as if he is absent)
8) Consonance and Assonance — Sound device
This is a very interesting device (for me) in the poetic devices list, it’s almost like alliteration when it comes to the sound only with this device the sounds come more from within the words rather than the beginning. Consonance is referring to consonants and Assonance refers to vowels.
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out ofThe Waste Land by T. S Eliot End-stopped lines land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain. 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; William Shakespeare
9) Enjambment & End-stopped lines — Literary device
This is a line break or stanza break. It helps to strategically write poetry.
Enjambment is a device that poets use to cut the flow of a sentence through the use of line breaks or stanza breaks. There usually isn’t any punctuation, and the sentence flow just breaks and continues on the next line.
End-stopped lines are the point where the sentence or phrase comes to its natural conclusion. The end-stop can be marked with a full stop, comma, semicolon or any form of punctuation.
10) Meter — Sound Device
Meter is found in a lot of contemporary poetry and is often the rhythmic structure of a poem. They are linguistic sound patterns in a poem. How to best describe it, is as such that it’s like music, but more the beats in the poetry. The meter is a unit, that is one beat, which also could be referred to as foot.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrowMacbeth by William Shakespeare ,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Here are the types of meters in poetry.
- a) Iambic — two syllables. E.g., Belong (be-long).
- b) Trochaic — accented syllable followed by an unaccented syllable. E.g., garden, highway, tyger (William Blake’s poem The Tyger).
- c) Pyrrhic — two unaccented short syllables. E.g., to a green thought in a green shade.
- d) Spondee — two accented syllables stressed. E.g., faithful, toothache, bookmark, handshake.
- e) Anapestic — three syllables with the first two short and unstressed and the third syllable is long and stressed. E.g., understand, contradict.
- f) Dactylic — accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables. E.g., poetry (po-e-try), itself (it-s-elf).
- g) Length — the number of feet/meter in a poem will determine the length. E.g., dimeter, monometer, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter, or heptameter.
In this poetic devices list, it’s not conceit but the meter that needs to have an entire chapter premiered. Yes, meter is a very long and complex topic. You can access this article to read in-depth about meters. Hope the examples I have put next to each one that I’ve listed above is helpful in case the theory around meters makes your head go round round baby right round round like a record baby round round, round round.
Fear no more the heat o’ the sunCymbeline by William Shakespeare ,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust. She broke his car and his heart.
11) Repetition — Literary Device
Repetition is by far the most important on this poetic devices list and the most commonly used in poetry. By strategically placing repetition, the poem can emphasize the core of the poem or a concept in the poem. Certain forms of poems require repetition.
12) Zeugma — Literary Device
Zeugma is not used in contemporary poetry instead in older writing such as Latin, Greek or poetry of Ovid (a Roman poet).
Since this device is hardly used today it can make your poetry stand out. It’s the combination of literal with figurative as some will put it physically and conceptually. Zeugma is where one word modifies two other words.
Now, these are just 14 poetic devices take a look at these 50 Poetic Devices.
I hope this will now help you formulate a real genius of a poem that will make you into an unstoppable poet. Does this answer; not all writers are poets?
Look out for the next article which is dedicated solely to Literary devices.
I shall now make my departure, “Metaphors be with you.”
T. Dench Patel
Originally published at https://tdenchpatel.com on March 15, 2022.