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Figurative Language in Poetry

Parlin Pardede Universitas Kristen Indonesia

Literal Vs Figurative Language

Literal language means exactly what is said. It is the straightforward or factual or the dictionary meaning of a word. Figurative language means more than what it says on the surface. It is imaginative, and conveys not just the facts, but an idea.

a comparison between two seemingly unlike things using like, as, asso, than, similar to, or resembles. John is as strong as a lion (a simile) John is as strong as Jack (not a simile) He speaks like a thunder (a simile) Her smile resembles a sunny day (a simile)

a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison. John is a lion The world is a stage of drama He carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. My village is on the foot of Mount Merapi The cat is sleeping on my right foot (not a metaphore)

Allusion a reference to a famous person, event, or other literary work I was surprised his nose was not growing like Pinocchios The village is like a Garden of Eden. You are a Solomon when it comes to making decisions.

a word or phrase that is used to stand in for another word with which it is closely related The pen is mightier than the sword from the cradle to the grave (=from childhood to death) The House was called to order. We have always remained loyal to the crown

a figure of speech in which a part stands for a whole, An individual stands for a class, a material stands for a thing, (or the reverse of these three) is expressed: Shes preparing her dish (an entire plate of food) Can you lend me a hand? (help) Jakarta talks to Tokyo in the summit meeting TheWhite Housewill be announcing the decision around noon today Give us today our daily bread.

Allegory (from the Greek, means "to speak so as to imply something other), allegory is a description that has a second meaning beneath the surface one
The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) Si Kancil & Buaya

Symbol a word or object that stands for another word or object. Usually that other word or object is concrete.

Doves finally fly in the countrys sky. Didnt Eve ate the apple first? You cant teach an old dog new tricks.

Personification giving human characteristics to inanimate objects The stars winked at me. The rain kissed her cheeks as it fell. Lightning danced across the sky. Trees bowed to the ground. The flowers begged for water.

Overstatement (Hyperbole)
a deliberate exaggeration
As I Walked Out One Evening "I'll love you, dear, I'll love you till China and Africa meet, And the river jumps over the mountain And the salmon sing in the street, I'll love you till the ocean Is folded and hung up to dry And the seven stars go squawking Like geese about the sky. (by W.H. Auden)

I am so hungry I could eat a horse. I have a million things to do. I had a ton of homework.

Understatement An expression which shows a situation seems less important or serious than it is. I have to have this operation. It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain. Men have died from day to day.

Paradox (Oxymoron) a contradiction between two things that seemingly cannot be resolved The child is father of the man. She often feels alone in a crowd. Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else! Nancy is a non-working mother

the expression of ones meaning by using words that mean the direct opposite of what one really intends to convey Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink. Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room. That traffic cop gets his license suspended for unpaid parking tickets. The unsinkable Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.

Identify the figurative languages in this poem

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops Let the rain sing you a lullaby The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk The rain makes running pools in the gutter The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes

Love Is
Love is a burning candle It's not always easy to handle It burns, but it's still beautiful And it makes celebrations oh so meaningful It's a sunset Burning with romance A song... That makes you want to dance...

All roads lead to Rome

In spite of her left-leaning philosophy along Ho Chi Min trail she fled Hanoi so she wouldnt have to eat no more thousand-year-old Egg Fu Young she felt too young and craved for them no more She had a penchant for the dolce vita Fearlessly came to Pisa and gorged on Pizza Hut next to its tower never minding its right wing leaning thousand-year-old egg
Alex Nodopaka From:

Two Roses
Two seeds are planted, One in a pile of dirt One in a garden bed The one in the dirt has shit put on it The one in the bed has perfume put on it The one in dirt grows slower The one in the bed grows fast The one in the dirt grows strongly The one in the bed grows weakly The one in the dirt grows to be beautiful The one in the bed grows to be ugly The one in the dirt lives The one in the bed dies.

Eugene Binx From:

When I Die
When I die I will be a ghost and discover the world's secrets. When I die and become a ghost I will return to my body and live. When I die I will be on earth and choose to be in heaven. When I die and I have revenge I will live to seek it. When I die I will live.


Sonia H.