The world of poetry can be complex, confusing, and overwhelming for some, but it can also bring great insight, raw emotion, and rich imagery to readers.
One of the ways that poetry can really shine is through the use of poetic techniques and devices. Together, the use of such techniques can help one poem to stand out from another, and really draw the reader into the rich imagery of the poem and help them to understand the true meaning of that poem.
As a result, any aspiring poet should read a lot of poetry and try to become versed with as many poetic devices as possible, and know when to use each device to their advantage.
This article outlines what impact poetic technique can achieve and also highlights some of the most common poetic and literary devices a poet may encounter.
Poetic devices can really enrich the imagery of a poem. (Image: CC0 1.0, UzbekIL, Pixabay)
A poem can feature a wide variety of literary or poetic devices and techniques, as ultimately such techniques build upon each other and work together to help bring a poem to life and make the scene the poem is portraying more vivid to the reader or listener.
As such, a variety of factors come into play when utilising poetic techniques, and poets need to think about the overall impact a poem may have, from:
Whether you decide to use rhyme, personification, or a particular mood or setting for your poem, poetic devices can help make your poem come alive, and can even help inform how you structure your poem.
For example, you could decide to structure your poem with stanzas, although there’s no obligation to if you would rather not. A stanza helps to divide a poem by grouping together two or more lines together that usually have a similar metrical form or rhyme, although they don’t have to share this feature. Just as paragraphs are used in literature to group ideas together, stanzas perform a similar function in the world of poetry.
Another question that many poets ask themselves today is whether or not it’s worth incorporating rhyme, iambic pentameter, or rhyming words into a poem. Although older poems may rhyme more frequently than newer, more contemporary poems, ultimately the choice of whether to use rhyme depends on your own preferences towards rhyme as a poet and whether rhyme would work well as a poetic device in the poem you’re writing.
If you do decide to incorporate rhyme into your poem to improve the rhythm of the poem, then you could look to use a poetic technique such as rhyming couplets. A rhyming couplet features two lines of equal length that rhyme. Shakespeare’s sonnets often featured rhyming couplets, if you’re looking for good examples to learn from.
Ultimately, the decision of which poetic techniques are best to use is very personal, and will likely change on a poem by poem basis. With that in mind, some common poetic devices have been defined and highlighted below to give you some inspiration on which poetic devices and literary terms to include in your next piece of work.
poetry devices and poetic techniques are essential in an engaging poem. (Image: CC BY 2.0, Pete O’Shea, Flickr)
Poetic devices are used throughout various types and styles of poems to increase that poem’s effect on the reader or listener and to help make the poem more memorable overall.
As a result, poetic devices can really enhance a poetic work, regardless of the type of poem written, including:
As a result, poetic devices can really be the best friend of any poet, including established poets and poets who are just starting out. So learning them should be among an aspiring poet’s top priorities when they’re just starting to write.
Some of the most common poetic devices are highlighted below, although there others out there.
Simile – a simile compares two things that are not alike, using “as” or “like” to signal the comparison.
Example: “That was as clear as mud.”
Metaphor – a metaphor, like a simile, seeks to compare two things that are not alike, however, a metaphor does not feature the use of “as” or “like”. There are many different types of metaphor, including extended metaphors, implied metaphors, and mixed metaphors, among others.
Example: “You’re the apple of my eye.”
Alliteration – the repetition of consonants at the beginning of words that follow, or closely follow, each other.
Example: “She sells seashells by the sea-shore.”
Assonance – the repetition of vowels within words close to each other, although each word starts with a different consonant.
Example: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” (My Fair Lady)
Onomatopoeia – words that imitate how the thing being described sounds.
Example: “The buzzing bee.”
Note that some poetic devices are also used as wider literary devices, for example in works of fiction, but these devices can be just as effective when used within a poem.
If you’d like to learn more about poetic or literary devices or understand their purpose and effect further, then you may want to reach out to a tutor for some extra direction when it comes to informing your studies. Superprof, for example, has a number of English tutors available who would be happy to give you some further insight into the most effective poetic devices out there, and which ones may complement your writing style.
Rhyming can help impact how a poem sounds. (Image: CC0 1.0, geralt, Pixabay)
Ultimately, when you set out to write a poem, think about the techniques that would best make your poem shine and grab the attention of your intended audience. While literary techniques such as alliteration and onomatopoeia may work well within some poems, in others they may fall flat.
Finding the right poetic devices for your poem can really enhance the feelings and emotions of your reader while they are going through your poem, regardless of whether you want to write a ballad, sonnet, or a dramatic poem.
As such, take the time to plan your poem in advance before you start writing, so you can decide which poetry techniques would work best. Advance planning can help to prevent excessive rewrites at a later date, so it can really pay to get on top of your poem early, long before the pen hits paper.
Thinking about potential techniques in advance can really help your writing and publishing, as you can help figure out whether you’d like to use figurative language, hyperbole, or stressed vowel sounds to help convey the true meaning of your poem to the reader.
However, if you didn’t plan out a poem you wrote, or if you prefer to write organically, then not to worry! Even if you’ve finished a poem, it’s still worth spending some time looking through your work to see whether your poem achieves what you’d like it to.
If you think that the poem doesn’t appeal to your intended audience, then it might be worthwhile revising certain lines to make sure the overall poem has its intended effect.
For example, modern poems don’t always contain as many rhyme or rhyming words within them compared to older poems. As such, if you’re trying to appeal to a contemporary audience, have a think about whether your poem needs to feature as much if any, rhyme. If not, then rewrite your poem, removing the rhyming words in favour of another literary technique, whether that’s:
Of course, if you’re ever struggling to come up with ideas of what literary techniques to use, or would like another person to take a look over your poems to provide their own feedback and suggestions on where to improve, then you could look to hire an English tutor with experience within the area of poetry.
Sites such as Superprof have a range of English tutors, who can be available for one on one, group tutoring, remote learning, or workshop sessions. So if you’d like to learn more about poetic techniques and how they could help your poems shine that bit more, then reach out to an experienced tutor today for help and see how it could benefit you.
It’s just a case of entering in your postcode to find local tutors in your area that are willing to help. With one to one lessons and group workshops available, there’s sure to be a tuition format that works for you. Even if you’d prefer to have tuition lessons remotely, there are also remote tutors out there!