By Nancy Ness
Hello, My name is Nancy, and I'm a poetry addict. I read poems. I write poems. I scourge
and pillage the 'net for good poetry sites. I post poems. I critique poems. I talk to
poets on ICQ. I go to bookstores to find new books of poetry to read when my computer is
overtaken by those interminable gremlins. And when I'm not doing any of these things, I
teach poetry. (Oh, shhh
BTW, if anyone knows of any other good poetic activities,
email me, eh?)
Needless to say, I couldn't pass up this wonderful poetic avenue, Digital Passions, and
our incomparably awesome host, Ron Carnell, who always manages to keep me busy. He'll get
no complaints from me, though. I can ramble on incessantly about the makings of a good
poem. So be it - ramble I shall.
Let's begin with the basics. What makes poetry such a wonderful craft? Each of us has our
own individual opinion on this one. I love it because it creates such exquisite visages
through the succinct use of syntactical imagery - besides that, it relaxes me and I love
to play with words. (You've noticed already how reticent I really am, yes?)
First, let's cover some simple imagery, then we can get into the more involved aspects of
poetic structure: rhyme scheme, meter, etc. So, what is imagery? Very simply put - imagery
is the use of descriptive words or ideas to create a visual "comparison" which
will enhance the reader's understanding of a literary work. Naturally, you already have
some understanding about simile, metaphor, and the rest. But I must start somewhere, so if
this is old hat to you, then feel free to go read some poems and come back when we get to
the more complicated part. I won't be offended. But beware, we might be talking about you
while you're away.
OK, novices, gather round. What is a simile, you ask? How does it differ from a metaphor?
What is an extended metaphor? How about personification? Good questions! Simile and
metaphor are nearly always used in conjunction with each other. Rarely is one mentioned
without the other trailing along. An extended metaphor is merely a more inclusive version
of the simple metaphor, and personification brings "life" to a poem. Each of
these has its own special purpose in our writing.
Passions in Poetry
full categorized list
A simile is as easy
as pie, but a metaphor is a piece of cake.
A simile is simply a comparison which utilizes one of
the two words "as" or "like." For example: My dear friend,
IsabelleSkye - Izzy, you recently posted Enchantress,
where you wrote the line "he approaches slowly wary like a lion" - that's a
perfect simile, because "like a lion" gives the reader a clear vision of your
Then there's my friend, Wolfgang. You're One of a Kind, Sir.
In that poem you said, "Each one of us, just like the trees,/We reach a different
height." In subsequent stanzas you further compare humanity as being: "...just
like the birds/ ...like snowflakes falling down/ ...like pearls inside a shell/ ...just
like the flowers". Have I told you, Wolfie, that you're as refreshing as a nice tall
Of course, I can't neglect Toerag. I wouldn't dare - that would be hazardous to my sanity.
You posted that very hysterical poem, LongJohn's Hoover
Has Y2K. If you missed this one, folks - it's a must read. Toerag, you wrote of
LongJohn's vacuum cleaner, that the "Hose was weaving like a snake." There you
have it folks - the simile.
What about a metaphor? A metaphor also makes a comparison, but it doesn't use either
"as" or "like" to convey its intended message. It is more obscure and
oftentimes takes a discerning eye to glean its meaning from a poem. It certainly is fun to
conceal your intentions behind an elusive mask, though, isn't it? A metaphor connotes
something entirely different from the literal meaning of the writer's words. In perusing
the wonderful poems on the Passions site, I found some really good examples. For instance:
Gentle Soul, in your poem, My Suit of Armor,
you wrote "My sword is his word." That's excellent! Your sword isn't really his
word, but you convey a very explicit message through your metaphor.
Then, of course, there's Doreen Peri (aka Pandora) in A Mere Mirage.
This one is just wonderful. Doreen you opened the poem with the line "The ocean is
moments of time swept up in foam." What a great picture you conjure up in my mind. A
metaphor uses one image in place of another to effect a descriptive picture in the
Personification is a wonderfully creative writing tool. It is just what it seems - giving
the qualities of being human to an animal or inanimate entity, nothing more. The visual
images created with personification really add to the zest of poetry, though. Now, which
of you has utilized this one?
Seymour Tabin, my friend, in Commitment, you
wrote, "A tongue strikes an inner shell./The ring cries, a double swell./The
pressures of circles ply,/To infinity they fly." We all know a tongue cannot really
strike, a ring cannot cry, and pressures cannot fly. But you do seem to make that happen,
Sy, with some very adept use of personification.
Then, of course, Poet deVine, in The Search for
Happiness, opened her wonderful poem with the line "All of her today woes/were
pushing happiness away." Woes certainly cannot push - unless Poet deVine pens it -
then it is so.
Now, I just can't let this one pass without reference to you, Wendy LaTulippe. You defy
description, my friend. What is this Water poem posted
on the main site of Passions? You've invented a new form of imagery. I think I'll call it
"expersonating." I've never seen anything like this. Don't be afraid to break
the rules, folks! Instead of personifying something inanimate, Wendy's done the opposite.
She's turned herself into a non-living entity - though it's hard to visualize the water in
this poem as being inanimate. That's some sensuous shower you give your reader. Wendy, you
need to get out of the house more, or take more showers - I'm not sure which.
Then there's the extended metaphor, which usually takes the form of an entire poem,
representing something other than the obvious or literal meaning of the words in print.
Let's see, some examples - ah, yes, this one was easy.
My dear Balladeer, you wrote The Architect,
seemingly about properly constructing a home. But on a deeper level, this poem is
obviously about the construction of poetry - a subject very near and dear to my heart.
Another wonderful example is a poem written by Tim, entitled The Rocky Shore. Tim wrote, "Must one climb the mountain/...to
touch the sky above,/Soar on wings of eagles,/...to find the answer why?" He
continues to weave a thread of life around these profound words - the entirety of this
poem is about attaining our life's goals. Yet, Tim presents his thoughts by climbing
mountains and flying with eagles. I really love this one, Tim - it's a perfect extended
Let us not forget our host, Ron Carnell (I just want to be invited back). In Winter's Threads, your title is, in itself, a foreshadowing of what's
to come. This entire poem represents solitude and the introspection of life's
accomplishments. If you haven't read it, find the time.
Well, folks, I tried - but I can't sign off without mentioning my favorite - malapropism.
I have an obsession with this one. Those of you who know me certainly harass me enough
about it, and the rest might as well join in. Very few of my poems escape my MissNTropic
wand. A malapropism is, over simplified, an unintentional pun - and such fun it is to pun
in craft. Don't be surprised to see me using this one frequently. I can't help it. It's an
affliction that I have.
Here are just a couple of quick examples from my poems: These are some lines from my
personal pride and joy, Serendipity:
"From sheltered *berth* embarks the maiden sail" (and)
"Hibernal mariner with *white-capped* lore", (and)
"That beck "Red-Right-Return" forever *moor*.
Or, there's my haiku:
Up, Up, and *A-weigh*
From the burdens of life in
Search of Levity
So, my poetic pals - have you any questions? Ask away! I'd certainly welcome any and all
of you to let me know what you'd like to hear about. What about hyperbole, alliteration,
onomatopoeia, iambics, anapestics, refrains, quatrains, sonnets, rhyme schemes,
pentameter, internal rhyme, free verse, blank?
Feel free to email me at email@example.com
'cause there's so much more to talk about, folks. But I have to go right now (a poem, that
Then I have my weekly Poets' Anonymous meeting