Imagery in Poetry - English Poetry Notes

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  • Imagery in poetry is the use of Figurative language or language that create mental pictures of situations. Such mental pictures are created by metaphors, similes, symbolism and personification


  • Metaphor which is the direct reference to something using the quality of something else in order to show that they share such a trait. E.g. Joseph is a lion. To show that Joseph is as strong/dangerous/brave etc as a lion.


  • Simile is making a comparison of two things using words like, like, akin to etc e.g. she sung like an angel.


  • Symbolism refers to the use of objects or things in a poem that have meaning outside the poem. For example a snake is generally considered to be an embodiment of evil and trickery; whiteness a symbol of purity, blood a symbol of violence and death etc. when such things are used in a poem they create symbolism.


  • Personification refers to giving human qualities to animals and things like plants or stones. A tree whispering, a stone crying, an elephant talking etc.


Describe imagery in the poem below.

He toiled from dawn to dusk for a piece of silver
He was a lioness in the hunt for meat
Many days the needs grew as the muscles moaned
Six pack albs, triceps and biceps winked
His lean body mysterious like an aphrodisiac
Was a source of lustful admiration to the master’s wife
who wished her husband had such a body
Yet the husband was full of silver
She did not wish her husband to lose the silver
She wanted the lean body and the silver
But it seemed it was difficult to have both

  • The silver in the poem is used symbolically to represent wealth or money. The man is said to be a lioness which means he was very brave and determined as a lioness usually is when it wants to kill a big game. This is a metaphor.
  • The six pack albs, biceps and triceps are said to wink which would be personification to show that they were tempting and charming. Also the muscles moaning is personification. His lean body mysterious like an aphrodisiac—this is a simile which shows how sexually attractive the man was.
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