Poetic Devices – Chapter 2.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday.

Last week I talked about how to tackle nerves over public speaking and you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.

Today’s #theorythursday is about more poetic devices. If you look through my categories and select Theory Thursday, you will find a post titled ‘Poetic Devices’, and in that post I broke down imagery, metaphors, personification, hyperboles, and onomatopoeia.

Today I am going to be breaking down four more poetic devices – Simile, Paradox, Assonance, and Alliteration.

So let’s dive into Theory Thursday.


What is a simile?

A simile is when an author compares two objects very definitely, using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.

An example of a simile can be found in the sentence ‘She is as good as gold.’

A poem that contains an example of a simile is A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns.

O my Luve is like a red, red rose.

O my Luve is like the melody.

Quotes from A Red, Red Rose, by Robert Burns.


What is a paradox?

A paradox is a statement that obviously does not make sense or has no logic because it is a contradiction.

A famous example of a paradox was said by George Bernard Shaw when he said that ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

An example of a paradox can be found in Seán O’Casey’s play The Shadow of a Gunman.

The child is father of the man.

A line from The Shadow of a Gunman, by Seán O’Casey.


What is assonance?

Assonance is the repeated use of vowel sounds.

Vowel sounds are represented by the letters A, E, I, O, and U.

An example of assonance can be found in the poem The Cold Wind Blows by Kelly Roper.

Who knows why the cold wind blows

A quote from The Cold Wind Blows, by Kelly Roper.

If you read this line aloud, then you will hear the use of assonance. It is the ‘o’ in ‘who’, the ‘ows’ in ‘knows’, the ‘o’ in ‘cold’, the ‘win’ in ‘wind’, and the ‘ows’ in ‘blows’.

When you say this line aloud, your mouth should make a circular shape as you say the vowels and you will find that you tend to naturally elongate your vowels.

I believe that assonance is one of those devices that becomes easier to recognise when you read a poem aloud.


What is alliteration?

Alliteration is when words repeatedly begin with the same consonant.

An example of alliteration can be found in the sentence ‘The steep, stone steps.’ – S,S,S – alliteration.

An example of alliteration can be found in the poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

While I nodded, nearly napping

A quote from The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Why are these poetic devices important?

As always, I like to end Theory Thursday by talking about why the theory discussed above is important.

I will always maintain my belief that understanding enhances enjoyment.

It is not fun to be confused in class. It is not fun to be struggling with an essay that is due soon. It is not fun to be in a conversation about poetry when you feel lost and confused, and if you enjoy poetry then it is not fun when sometimes poetry and theory may seem inaccessible.

My goal with each Theory Thursday is to make aspects of literary theory accessible to anyone who wishes to access it. I could speak in highly academic and complicated language, and I could use really obscure examples but then I feel that my content would not be accessible.

I use everyday language and I use straightforward examples.

If you are a student, then I think these breakdowns will be really beneficial to you because you will need to understand literary theory in order to do your work and if you are not a student but you simply wish to broaden your knowledge, then these breakdowns allow you to do so in a quick and easy way.

The more we understand about literature, the less daunting literature becomes. When you begin to understand these devices then talking about poetry becomes easier and when it becomes easier, it becomes more enjoyable because now not only can you discuss it, but you can understand it on a deeper level. When you can understand something on a deeper level, then you may start to relate to it or it may move you and once this happens, literature becomes much more enjoyable because a poem is no longer simply words on a page. You are no longer scratching your head thinking what does this even mean? So that is why I believe that learning about literary theory and the poetic devices above is important because doing so broadens understanding and enjoyment of literature.

This has been Poetic Devices – Chapter 2. This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. If anyone has any questions feel free to drop them below.

Kate xo.

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