I still remember my poetry lecturer, Miss Sheena, explained about figures of speech in poetry class. All her lectures are still fresh in my memory and I don't know why suddenly I want to recall everything that she had taught us (but today I'm only intended to talk about the figures of speech). Maybe it's because I don't want to just learn something for the sake of exams. Do you know that learning or studying for the sake of getting good grades in examinations will bring you nowhere. You'll just stand or sit at the same point without moving anywhere. It shows that how valuable knowledge are and it's our job to grab it, treasure it and utilize it for the betterment of our life. For my BENL friends, let's recall what had been taught by Miss Sheena, so that it might help us to be more appreciative towards the beauty of English literature as we had learned during the past semester 2.
What are figures of speech?
Figures of speech are intentional departure from straight-forward, literal use of language for the purpose of clarity, emphasis or freshness of expression. Based on what I understand from Miss Sheena's lectures is that, usually, poets tend to include (not all) figures of speech in their poetry because they want to make their poems looked more attractive and interesting to be read by people. In addition, including figures of speech in their poetry, poets will be able to catch the readers' attention other than trying to convey the hidden messages inside their poems.
Basically, in poetry, there are as many as 15 figures of speech used by poets in their poems. They encompass metaphor, simile, personification, transferred epithet, apostrophe, allusion, hyperbole, understatement, metonymy, synecdoche, paradox, oxymoron, periphrasis, euphemism and pun.
Let's take a look at them one by one!
Metaphor & Simile
Although metaphor and simile are different from each other, but they are actually the same thing. This is because they share the same function as the figures of speech in poetry, which is comparing two different things.
The obvious thing that they are appeared to be different from each other is that, metaphor is an indirect comparison between two things. The things which are compared in a poem could be either a thing, idea or even an action as it refers to as being something else which it shares a common quality. For example, "He is a tiger" to indicate that he is as brave as a tiger. Another examples are, "You are my sunshine" and " Emily is the rose who attracted men."
How about simile? Simile is a direct comparison between two different things, actions or feelings, with the use of a connective word such as 'like,' 'as,' 'resembles' and 'then.' Beware, if you find a statement that comparing two things with the absence of these connectors, they are no longer a simile, but a metaphor! Examples for simile are, "The surface of the table is whiter than a sheet," "She's like the moonlight during the night" and "John is as slow as a snail."
Personification & Transferred Epithet
As for these two, they are put under the same umbrella in which addressing attributes of something. Personification is when poets are transferring human qualities to an object, animal or abstract quality such as justice or love. Other than that, any inanimate objects which are given animal characteristics also known as personification. For example, "The singing birds cheer up her day" and "The moon is smiling at her."
Transferred epithet is when poets attributing a characteristic of one thing to another that is closely related to it. For example, "The angry bus honked at us as we crossed the busy street." The "angry bus" here doesn't indicate that the car is angry, instead the bus driver itself is angry with us. So, this is when transferred epithet occurs; when the attribute of an animate object (usually human's) is transferred to an inanimate object (like the bus in the above example).
Apostrophe & Allusion
Apostrophe is when poets addressing a thing or quality or even an absent (or dead) person as if it were present or alive and could reply. For example, "O Wild West Wind!" "O my dear roses!" and "O wake up all of you, dead people!"
Allusion is also used to address a thing. But the difference is it is a reference to another work of literature, an incident or a person (or character in a work of fiction). *Sorry, no specific examples for allusion. But I will include in here as soon as I've found the best example to illustrate allusion.
Next article: Hyperbole & understatement, metonymy & synecdoche, paradox & oxymoron, periphrasis & euphemism and pun.
To be continued...