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Imagery is one of the most important elements of poetry
that poets use to evoke vivid experience in their readers.
Through imagery poets not only convey emotions, desires,
wishes, and thoughts, but also create mental reproduction
of sense impressions in their readers’ minds. Perrine
(1984) defines imagery as “representation of some
experience through language”. Despite "image" being a
synonym for "picture", images need not be only visual; any
of the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) can
respond to what a poet writes.
Types of Imagery:
Visual Imagery, a visual
image occurs when a poet
represent something through
Woman with Flower By Naomi Long Madgett
I wouldn't coax the plant if I were you.
Such watchful nurturing may do it harm.
Let the soil rest from so much digging
And wait until it's dry before you water it.
The leaf's inclined to find its own direction;
Give it a chance to seek the sunlight for itself.
Much growth is stunted by too careful prodding,
Too eager tenderness.
The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.
Auditory Imagery, an auditory
image occurs when something is
represented through sound
If Trees Could Do As We By Frederick Douglas Harper
If trees could talk as we,
Oh, how they would echo
Earth’s praises;
If trees could sing as we,
Gee, how they and we would
Harmonize a sweet song of
Spring breezes;
If trees could walk as you and I
With dances of lift and light;
If trees could, then we could
Imagine of them, their life, their soul,
In our minds and hearts;
And spare of them their life for us.
Olfactory Imagery, an olfactory
image occurs when a poet
represents a smell
Messy Room By Shel Silverstein
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or-Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,
I knew it looked familiar!
Gustatory Imagery, a gustatory
image is the representation of a
Taste of Summer by Swati Goswami
Crushed leaves and grass
tasty tangy smells of summer
Trees are full and plush
Fruits are succulent and ripe
The Gulmohar bright and proud
sways in the brisk warm breeze.
Lazy silent afternoons are intoxicating;
Balmy winds refresh the evening walkers
Thirsty birds skip from branch to branch
looking for water troughs.
fearless rowdy boys are at play
the sun doesn’t dampen their playful spirits.
As the dusk falls in
the timid ones venture out.
I know the rains are round the corner
the brisk winds will soon be moist
I take a deep breath and try to drink the summer.
Tactile Imagery, a tactile image
is the representation of touch
My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.
Organic Imagery, an organic image
is the representation of an internal
Examples: hunger, thirst, pain,
longing, regret, etc.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Kinesthetic Imagery, a kinesthetic
image is a representation of
physical movement
MONGOOSE by Frederick Douglas Harper
Their steps are quick and low,
Fastly scooting they often go,
Minding their own business of the day;
A friend of man and woman they are,
Kindly and cute animals by far;
Mongooses, how beautifully they stroll
Mongooses, how beautifully they stroll
Their brown coat glistening in the sun,
Creatures of charm on the run.
Andrew Marvell (31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678) was
an English Methapysical Poet, satirist and politician who sat in
the House of Common at various times between 1659 and
1678. Andrew Marvell wrote the poem "The Definition of
Love". It is categorized as a metaphysical poem (It is a type of
poetry written during the seventeenth century. Etymologically,
“metaphysical” is a combination of two words ‘meta’ and
‘physical.’ The meanings are clear that it deals with the things
that are beyond this the existence of the physical world) due
to its attempt to apply logic to the abstract notion of love.
The poem is composed of eight quatrains.
The rhyme scheme follows an ABAB
patterns except in two stanzas. In the first
stanza, the reader would need to
mispronounce "impossibility" as "impssibilitigh" to fit the scheme. Otherwise, stanza
one falls under ABAC. The sixth stanza has
an off rhyme with the A-pattern lines. The
poem presents a regular rhythm overall
when read aloud.
My love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis for object strange and high;
The first lines of the poem are uncommon in poetry about love. The
speaker (henceforth referred to with male pronouns) describes his love as
being rare. He also claims it is for something (or someone) strange.
It was begotten by Despair
Upon Impossibility.
The third and fourth lines of the poem state the speaker’s love was created
by Despair and Impossibility. These two entities are personified, evidenced
by the use of capital letters. They are further personified by the notion they
are able to create (or birth) the love of a person. Once again, these
descriptions are fairly odd. The metaphysical aspects of the poem are
immediately shown in the first quatrain of the poem.
Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing
Magnanimous indicates a person who is very forgiving. In
addition to the personification of Despair, the poem continues
using unusual descriptors. It is quite odd to think of Despair, the
complete loss of hope, as being forgiving. However, the speaker
attributes the love he feels to the aforementioned Despair. In
addition, the reader witnesses the first romantic depiction of love
with the word "divine."
Where feeble Hope could ne’er have flown,
But vainly flapp’d its tinsel wing.
Though Hope is often thought of as strong, here it is portrayed as
weak. The speaker claims it could never have achieved what
Despair did.
And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixed,
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.
A fixed soul likely refers to the speaker’s body. This casts light on the
earlier stanzas in which his love is shown, through dark descriptions and
the portrayal of Despair, to be saddening. In this stanza, he goes on to say
Fate (another personification) comes between him and, presumably, his
For Fate with jealous eye does see
Two perfect loves, nor lets them close;
The idea the reader develops while reading the previous stanzas is
confirmed at the start of the fourth stanza. Fate does not allow two loves
to be close to each other. In this case, it is the speaker and his beloved.
Their union would her ruin be,
And her tyrannic power depose.
Fate is show to be tyrannical. Fate, previously described as jealous, does
not want to be ruined or lose power.
And therefore her decrees of steel
Us as the distant poles have placed,
The "decrees of steel" are the laws Fate has put into place. The
commands of Fate hold strong, keeping the speaker and his love apart.
(Though love’s whole world on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embraced;
These lines suggest the union of the lovers would be accepted, maybe
celebrated, by the people. Unfortunately, Fate does not allow it and so
they cannot be together.
Unless the giddy heaven fall,
And earth some new convulsion tear;
In these two lines, the speaker lists natural calamities that are highly
unlikely, if not impossible, to occur.
And, us to join, the world should all
Be cramped into a planisphere.
In the same stanza, the speaker mentions him uniting with his love. This
could only be possible if the aforementioned occurred. As a result, they
would be crowded into a planisphere, a map or projection of a sphere, with
all people. This continues on the vein of atypical descriptions and
metaphysical ideas applied to love.
As lines, so loves oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet;
Oblique lines bend and slant, meaning they will come in contact. This does
not apply to the lovers in question throughout this poem.
But ours so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.
The speaker describes their love as truly parallel. This implies
something ideal though it is not. Being truly parallel, this means
the two will never meet or touch. They are, indeed, fated to be
Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
The speaker and his beloved are bound by love. They are
devoted to each other in feeling but never physically. Fate
persists in keeping them apart. Once again, Fate is described as
jealous by the use of the word "enviously."
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.
The final lines explain how the two lovers can be
bound to one another even though they cannot
physically be together. They are connected by
their minds, the love they feel and think of. This
is the ending in the metaphysical, by attempting
to create a logical explanation for something
The theme of the poem is love,
specifically how emotions may not
always agree with physicality. Though
two people may be very much in love
and devoted to one another, there is a
possibility they can never be together.
This creates a painful struggle for
those who experience it.
In "The Definition of Love," the reciprocated but
impossible love of the speaker is detailed.
Throughout the poem, the reader learns how the
two lovers are kept apart. The reader is also
taken through an argument of sorts to exemplify
how two people can be kept apart physically but
nothing will change their hearts. Essentially, the
speaker attempts to have the reader understand
why and how he is connected to his love in such a
way that cannot be easily refuted.
Q and A Section!
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