Literary devices are techniques that writers use to create a special and pointed effect in their writing, to convey information, or to help readers understand their writing on a deeper level.
Often, literary devices are used in writing for emphasis or clarity. Authors will also use literary devices to get readers to connect more strongly with either a story as a whole or specific characters or themes. For this session, we will discuss personification and imagery.
A figure of speech in which the poet describes an abstraction, a thing, or a nonhuman form as if it were a person. When inanimate objects, are given human qualities, this results in a poem full of imagery and description. Example: “The wind moaned, beckoning me to come outside.” In this example, the wind—a nonhuman element—is being described as if it is human (it “moans” and “beckons”).
Consider the first stanza of Jackie Kay’s poem Way Down below in the Streets of Paris:
I spied a small lonely boy.
I was his beautiful red balloon,
from morning through to noon
In this example, the poet is the red balloon, and the poem continues by describing the boy and the poet (as the balloon) sharing a walk through Parisian streets. Here is another example by William Blake:
The Sick Rose
BY WILLIAM BLAKE
O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
Imagery, in a literary or poetic sense, is the author’s use of description and vivid language, deepening the reader’s understanding of the work, by appealing to the senses. All imagery is aided through the use of other poetic devices, such as simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, etc.
There are different types of imagery. These include:
Visual imagery which refers to sights and allows the reader to visualise the subject, objects or events in the poem.
Auditory imagery refers to sounds and reminds the reader of common or specific sounds as a point of reference to deepen understanding.
Kinaesthetic imagery is related to movement and reminds the reader of body movement or positions that are familiar or imagined – such as the feeling of flying.
Smells and tastes can be referred to as Olfactory or Gustatory imagery respectively.
Tactile imagery refers to texture and feeling. Source
The following poems contain examples of imagery:
“This Is Just to Say” is an amazing example of gustatory imagery or imagery involving taste. There’s more going on beneath the surface of this poem, but the vivid description of taste draws the reader in.
This Is Just To Say
BY WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
T.S. Eliot – Preludes
This is an excerpt from “Preludes,” an imagery poem by T. S. Eliot. This is an excellent example of visual imagery and auditory imagery. You can almost see and hear the horse steaming and stamping and smell the steaks:
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
Sources: Poetry Foundation
The Writing Challenge: Write a poem utilizing either Personification (giving human characteristics to objects, animals, or ideas) or Imagery (appealing to the senses). If you want to combined these poetic devices in one poem, its also okay.
Welcome everyone! Hope you enjoy writing to this prompt. Its really cold here, so let me serve some hot chocolate or perhaps tea ?
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
We finally got some winter… not very cold, but at least below freezing, and some new white snow… it looks brighter this way.
We have been freezing since Christmas, smiles. I am tired of snow already..ha..ha..
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Hello, and thank you for the prompt… I did a little bit of playing for this prompt, but it was fun…..
Good to see you Bjorn. I am looking forward to see the poems for this prompt, though it is not the first time we have discussed imagery.
I have also started writing my poem in a notebook, then transferred to the computer for safekeeping and final editing. I find the words flowing easier, just letting it run across the page.
Loved the prompt, Grace! 😀 Hot chocolate for me please. 💝
Hot chocolate for you dear. I am always surprise that you are still awake. Thanks for joining in!
Yum! Thank you, Grace 😀 I am a night owl so you ll be seeing me around the bar a lot! 💝
Thank you, Grace, for this inspiring essay. I will come back to it as reference as I struggle to use imagery well in my poetry. I look forward to reading everyone’s entries.
I look forward to reading yours Ingrid. Thanks for joining in.
Good evening all and thanks to Grace for the prompt, although I’m not sure if I’ve fulfilled the challenge. I’m not feeling enthusiastic about anything, am uninspired, and hit a wall today. I’m sure I’ll get over it, but being stuck indoors every day for months on end is starting to get me down. So sorry about the whinge. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
Well we are all stuck indoors now – working as well for the coming months under lock down. I find that a break helps me with my muse as well as reading poems of others too. Looking forward to reading your poem.
Linda Lee Lyberg said:
Hello Grace and All- Wonderful prompt Grace. I will work on something in the morning- full day today! I hope everyone is doing well.
Hello Linda. Hope you are doing well. I am making my rounds now!
Hello Grace and All. Late to the pub tonight. Good examples on the prompt. Sunshine visited earlier. Sipping hot coffee; if you have a shot of Bailey’s or equivalent for it, I’ll take one please.
Hello! Here you go with a lot of sunshine too. See you at the poetry trail.
Thank you for hosting Grace. I have had a lose idea of a piece I have wanted to do about these quarantine times. Think I will go after it for this excellent prompt.
Looking forward to reading it Rob. Hope all is well at your end of the world!
Good evening Grace! I love technical prompts! I have a little more work to today for the day job, but I’m thinking about this…
You are very welcome. These kind of prompts are fun to learn as well.
Thanks, Grace, for this motivating prompt. The bones of this piece, originally VERY different (& prose!) have been in the Works-In-Progress file for ages.
Looking forward to reading it Ron. Thanks for joining in.
Myrna Migala said:
I did a ping but so far haven’t seen it appear, but my link and I do have a link from there to here. My post is of a religious nature so know ahead!
Your link is with Mr. Linky. Thanks for joining in.
ben Alexander said:
This was surprisingly hard for me.
A challenge is always fun to do. Thanks for joining us.
Hi, Grace, and thank you for the fascinating prompt. Here’s hoping all is well with everyone at the pub. Cheers!
Hi Eugenia. You are very welcome. Hope you are well in your part of the world as well (I am in Canada). Thanks for joining in.
My pleasure, Grace, and thank you for the opportunity.
M Jay Dixit said:
Hello, Grace! Thanks for hosting, I loved all the poems you’ve shared.
I have submitted mine, it came to me yesterday after lunch and I finished it today in the morning after reading your prompt ^_^
Take care ~ Jay
M Jay Dixit said:
I have also linked up an old poem that fits the rules, I hope it’s okay to link two poems.. :))
Yes, you can link more than 1 poem. Thanks for joining us.
Hi Grace and all. Thanks for this fine post Grace – looking forward to reading some wonderful personification/imagery later on this evening. Sending you some warmth which we have an excess of here today (my cucumbers are wilting) – Peter.
Hi Peter! Thanks for the bit of sunshine today. We certainly need it.
I’m a little late to the party, Grace. I did enjoy this prompt, but I seem to have become an early morning poster. Evenings are wiped out for me at the moment.
My muse comes in the morning too Sarah. Hope all is well with you.
Even later, so enjoyed the playfulness of this for me, thank you Grace.
Thank you for joining us.
I was impressed with Christine Bolton’s response to your challenge. She gave me your link. I love your explanation first then your challenge. Very thorough.
HOW does the time disappear so quickly??? So very late to the pub….glad you left the door open. I helped myself to some mulled wine…cold and rainy today here in Boston. But I finally got to writing and posting!
So glad you did joined us Lillian!
Further takes the being it
of red, so furtile fragile lit
and makes the common interest
a none, so surpassed, put to test.
Where did you go, you red hot …
Is future funny, funny not …