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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Literary Devices - Definition and examples

A POET IS LIMITED in the materials he can use in creating his works: all he has are words to express
his ideas and feelings. These words need to be precisely right on several levels at once:

• they must sound right to the listener even as they delight his ear
• they must have a meaning which might have been unanticipated, but seems to be
the perfectly right one
• they must be arranged in a relationship and placed on the page in ways that are
at once easy to follow and assist the reader in understanding
• they must probe the depths of human thought, emotion, and empathy, while
appearing simple, self-contained, and unpretentious

Fortunately, the English language contains a wide range of words from which to choose for almost every thought, and there are also numerous plans or methods of arrangement of these words, called poetic devices, which can assist the writer in developing cogent expressions pleasing to his readers.
Even though most poetry today is read silently, it must still carry with it the feeling of being spoken aloud, and the reader should practice “hearing” it in order to catch all of the artfulness with which the poet has created his work.

the SOUNDS of words
Words or portions of words can be clustered or juxtaposed to achieve specific kinds of effects when we hear them. The sounds that result can strike us as clever and pleasing, even soothing. Others we dislike and strive to avoid. These various deliberate arrangements of words have been identified.
Alliteration: Repeated consonant sounds at the beginning of words placed near each other, usually on the same or adjacent lines. A somewhat looser definition is that it is the use of the same consonant in any part of adjacent words.
Example: fast and furious
Example: Peter and Andrew patted the pony at Ascot
Onomatopoeia: Words that sound like their meanings or the formation of a word that imitates or suggests the sound that it represents.
In Hear the steady tick of the old hall clock, the word tick sounds like the action of the clock.
Example: boom, buzz, crackle, gurgle, hiss, pop, sizzle, snap, swoosh, whirl
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Repetition: The purposeful re-use of words and phrases for an effect. Sometimes, especially with longer phrases that contain a different key word each time, this is called parallelism. It has been a central part of poetry in many cultures. Many of the Psalms use this device as one of their unifying elements.
Example: I was glad; so very, very glad.
Example: Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward…
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d…

Rhyme: This is the one device most commonly associated with poetry by the general public. Words that have different beginning sounds but whose endings sound alike, including the final vowel sound and everything following it, are said to rhyme.
Example: time, slime, mime

Metaphor: A direct comparison between two unlike things, stating that one is the other or does the action of the other. The words “like” and “as” are not used in metaphors.
Example: He’s a zero.
Example: Her fingers danced across the keyboard.

Oxymoron: A combination of two words that appear to contradict each other.
Example: a pointless point of view; bittersweet

Paradox: A statement in which a seeming contradiction may reveal an unexpected truth.
Example: The hurrier I go the behinder I get.

Personification: Attributing human characteristics to an inanimate object, animal, or abstract idea.
Example: The days crept by slowly, sorrowfully.
Fear knocked on the door, Faith answered, “There is no one there.”

Pun: Word play in which words with totally different meanings have similar or identical sounds OR a play on words wherein one word is used to convey two meanings at the same time. Puns are often intended for a humorous or rhetorical effect.
Example: Like a firefly in the rain, I’m de-lighted.
PUN (also called PARANOMASIA)

Simile: A direct comparison of two unlike things using “like” or “as.”
Example: He’s as dumb as an ox.
Example: Her eyes are like comets.

Rhetorical Question: A question solely for effect, which does not require an answer. By the implication the answer is obvious, it is a means of achieving an emphasis stronger than a direct statement.
Example: Could I but guess the reason for that look?
Example: O, Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Rhyme Scheme: The pattern established by the arrangement of rhymes in a stanza or poem, generally described by using letters of the alphabet to denote the recurrence of rhyming lines, such as the ababbcc  stanza form.

Poetic Devices in the IMAGES of words
A poet uses words more consciously than any other writer. Although poetry often deals with deep human emotions or philosophical thought, people generally don’t respond very strongly to abstract words, even the words describing such emotions and thoughts. The poet, then, must embed within his work those words which do carry strong visual and sensory impact, words which are fresh and spontaneous but vividly descriptive.
He must carefully pick and choose words that are just right. It is better to show the reader than to merely tell him.
Imagery: The use of vivid language to generate ideas and/or evoke mental images, not only of the visual sense, but of sensation and emotion as well. While most commonly used in reference to figurative language, imagery can apply to any component of a poem that evoke sensory experience and emotional response and also applies to the concrete things so brought to mind.
mood or tone. Images of disease, corruption, and death, for example, are recurrent patterns shaping our
perceptions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
• Sight: Smoke mysteriously puffed out from the clown’s ears.
• Sound: Tom placed his ear tightly against the wall; he could hear a faint but distinct thump
thump thump.
• Touch: The burlap wall covering scraped against the little boy’s cheek.
• Taste: A salty tear ran across onto her lips.
• Smell: Cinnamon! That’s what wafted into his nostrils.

An allegory is a device used to represent an idea, principle or meaning, which can be presented in literary form, such as a poem or novel; or in a visual form such as a painting or drawing.
As a literary device, an allegory is defined as an “extended metaphor”, or “symbolic representation”. Very often an allegoric story or play illustrates an idea or moral principle in which objects take on symbolic meaning.

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An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, representation of a place, historical event, literary work, myth, or work of art. Allusions can be direct references or implications.
An analogy is a comparison that is made between two things that are in some way/ ways similar. An analogy is often used to help explain something or make it easier to understand

A hyperbole is a figure of speech in which an overstatement or exaggeration occurs.
Often used in poetry or in casual speech, hyperboles are usually used to create emphasis or effect.
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Irony is incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.
Verbal Irony
Ironic statements (verbal irony) typically imply a meaning that is opposite to the literal meaning.
Sarcasm is a form of verbal irony.
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Situational Irony
A situation is ironic if actions taken have an effect exactly opposite from what was intended or expected.
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