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Reading Comprehensions

Poetry

Did you know that the oldest known poem is 4000 years old? Evidently, poetry is one of the oldest forms of expression, which also saw the rise of legends William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, Pablo Neruda to name a few. What makes poetry so intriguing and beautiful? Let’s find out!

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Poetry

The sea and my love both are deep
I get as much as I give
Both are infinite

Now read this:

My bounty is as deep as the sea
My love as deep
The more I give to thee
The more I have
For both are infinite

On comparing both, it is evident that the latter is better and closer to a poem. Whereas, the former is really raw. Observe that the second poem has a rhyming scheme. We will be learning about rhyming schemes and more. The second poem is written by the well known, William Shakespeare.

 poetry

Poetic Devices

Let us discuss some commonly used terms used to add beauty to a poem.

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Alliteration

Holding a unique universe undone by you

‘u’ is dominant here. This is a good example of alliteration. Evidently, alliteration is a literary device which is present if the sound of the second or the third letter repeats in a series. Also, alliteration is used to stress a consonant sound in stressed syllables. As can be seen, it creates a rhythmic effect.

Hyperbole

Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement that is we can use to stress some strong feeling but not literally. For example,

I was so cold I saw polar bears dancing in the night sky.

Obviously, polar bears can’t dance (generally). Thus the reference of polar bears dancing in the night sky is an exaggeration of feeling extreme cold.

Imagery

Imagery is a poetic device which is used to add depth to a sentence and is thus descriptive in nature. Generally, imagery appeals to at least one of our five senses. In other words, imagery creates an image in our minds thus adding depth to the literature. Imagery is of two types:

  • Metaphor

The metaphor is used to describe a thing by mentioning some other thing. Also, a metaphor is used when something is directly related to the another, without drawing any line of distinction between them. For example: Spread myself on a blue canvas.

  • Simile

One major difference between a simile and a metaphor is that in a simile we describe two things as similar to each other. Whereas, in a metaphor, two things are presented exactly as one. For example, His anger burnt like an insatiable fire.

Note: Since both metaphor and simile are bifurcations of imagery, there is a thin line between both. However, generally, we can spot a simile in a sentence if words like- ‘like’, ‘as’, ‘similar to’ etc. are used to highlight similarity.

Irony

One of the most commonly used poetic devices is irony. An ironical statement induces a sarcastic effect. In other words, we can detect irony when we write something that is contradictory to what is expected. For example, A fire station burns down.

Oxymoron

An oxymoron is present if two completely opposite words are used in conjunction. For example: Both the worlds have the same difference.

Onomatopoeia

Here, we take help of words to imitate sounds. For example, ‘tik-tok’ is the sound of a clock, ‘the cow goes moo’ and so on.

Personification

In case of a personification, we give human-like abilities to an object. Here non-living things are related to human attributes. For example, The sky wept tears all night.

Rhyme Scheme

A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhymes at the end of each line in a poem. Generally, a rhyme scheme is represented by elementary letters, with a different letter for a different rhyme. For example, here’s a part of the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’:

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

The rhyme scheme here is ABAAB

Some Other Poetic Devices

Allusion

We use an allusion to state a circumstance or object in order to represent a given idea. For example, Abraham Lincoln is known for his great leadership skills. This fact is used in the following allusive statement- He is the Abraham Lincoln of our campaign.

Understatement

Understatement contains an expression of lesser strength than what would be expected. For example, Hit by the bus, the band-aid did the job.

Note: A given statement can have more than one poetic device.

Solved Example for You on Poetry

Question: Identify the poetic devices used in the following statements:

  1. Let’s roar like a lion.
  2. We birds were chirping our songs.
  3. The sun slept on the horizon bed.
  4. The snake hissed at the routine chaos.

Ans:

  1. Alliteration: like a lion, simile: like a lion, hyperbole: roaring.
  2. Metaphor: we birds were chirping, onomatopoeia: chirping, hyperbole.
  3. Metaphor: horizon bed, alliteration: sun slept, personification: the sun slept.
  4. Onomatopoeia: hissed, oxymoron: routine chaos
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