- Consider and read: Read the following poems
- “Do not go gentle into that good night”
- Respond: Complete the assignment (below)
1. Choose one of the poems from this lesson: “Quinceanera,” “Do not go gentle…,” “Harlem,” or “Metaphors”2. Re-read the poem and consider its use of figurative language and its theme. What idea or statement is this poem trying to send to its readers?3. Answer these questions in at least 200 words. Write a cohesive paragraph rather than a list. There are no formatting requirements, and since you’re only using one poem, no citation requirements. Do not consult outside sources. You are encouraged to quote from the poem (be sure to integrate the quotes into your own sentences), and you can also embed an image if you would like to create or find one that you think reflects the poem’s meaning. The “Insert/Edit Image” button in the menu about (it has a mountain and sun) will enable you to add an image to your entry. You also may attach a file if you prefer.a. What use of figurative language stands out the most to you in this poem?b. What type of figurative language is it?c. What meaning is conveyed by the figurative language?d. Why do you think the author use figurative language, rather than stating something literally?e. How does this use of figurative language relate to or emphasize the theme of the poem?
Why do poets use figurative language?
It’s vivid and also usually short. It can convey a lot of meaning in a few powerful words. The metaphor “Juliet is the sun” gives us a great deal of information about Romeo’s feelings and relationship.
It helps emphasize the tone. Metaphors can be playful, and other metaphors can be somber. Figurative language creates a tone in a poem that helps the reader understand the moment and feeling being conveyed.
Comparisons, like those in metaphor and simile, connect the thing being described to something the reader is familiar with. We know that cheetahs are fast runners, so likening a track star to a cheetah shows us something.
What should I do when I read figurative language?
Don’t focus too much on being sure which type of figurative language is being used. It’s less important to remember the difference between simile and metaphor than it is to understand how and why a poet used figurative language (instead of literal language).
These notes are going to give you definitions and examples to help you understand the kinds of figurative language, and to make sure you can identify and explain it when you read it. Don’t get hung up on vocabulary, though.
Ask why the poet used it. Most figurative language is useful in addition to be beautiful or artistic. What tone, what information, and what idea is the poet trying to convey?
Connect it to the poem’s overall meaning. What is the poem’s theme or main idea? How does the figurative language connect to the theme?
Simile—a comparison of two objects, people, or ideas using the words “like” or “as” (For example, “He was like a bear in the morning”)
Metaphor—a direct comparison of two objects, people, or ideas without using “like” or “as” (For example, “He was a bear in the morning”)
Implied metaphor—a comparison that is not plainly stated (For example, “Jane’s yapping annoyed him” implies the comparison of Jane with a small, barking dog)
He runs like a cheetah.
My love is like a red, red rose.
Juliet is the sun.
I stand on the edge of the world.
She was drowning in love.
She navigated around the problem.
Figurative and Under
Hyperbole (AKA overstatement)—the use of verbal exaggeration to make a point
Understatement—the use of downplaying language to emphasize the opposite idea of how important or great a person, idea, or object is
This is the best taco on the planet. I’m melting in this summer heat.
My head exploded!
That’s not bad! (Meaning it’s very good)
It wasn’t the best decision… (Meaning it was a very bad decision)
Figurative Language Substitution
Synecdoche—using a part of something to represent the whole, such as “I’ll give you a hand” or using all of something to refer to part of it, like “The US won a gold medal”
Metonymy—using an emblem or closely associated object to represent something in its entirety, such as “The White House made a statement today”
Personification—using human traits or behaviors to describe something that is not human
Apostrophe—when the speaker of a poem addresses an unseen person, force, or personified idea
I just got a new set of wheels. (The “wheels” refer to the whole car) Dallas just won the NBA finals! (“Dallas” refers to a team from Dallas)
I just ate a bag of chips. (Did you eat the bag or the chips?)
The suits just filed a lawsuit. (When it was people who might wear suits)
The plastic bag was dancing in the wind. My computer is throwing a fit.
Questions for Reading and Recognizing Figures of Speech
Are there comparisons using “like” or “as”? If so, you have similes
Are there direct comparisons without “like” or “as”? If so, you have one of the types of metaphors
Are objects or ideas used to represent a larger whole? If so, you have synecdoche or metonymy
Who or what does the speaker address? You might have personification or apostrophe
Does the description use exaggeration or restraint to make a point? If so, you might have hyperbole or understatement