Poetic Devices


Definition: The repetition of the same or similar sounds at the beginning of words


Definition: A direct or indirect reference to something historical, literary, religious, or mythical. The author usually uses references that will be understood by his or her audience, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art. You can also make allusions to pop culture.

Why writer use them: allusions can help people see unique connections between two ideas. The reference can help the audience better understand a subject. Allusions can also be surprising and funny, and are a favorite tool for rappers to prove their extensive knowledge of many topics.


Words that are spoken to a person who is absent or imaginary, or to an object or abstract idea.


Definition: The repetition or a pattern of similar vowel sounds in neighboring words


an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning


the literal or primary meaning of a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests

Enjambment / End Stop

A run-on line of poetry in which logical and grammatical sense carries over from one line into the next.

An enjambed line differs from an end-stopped line in which the grammatical and logical sense is completed within the line


use of figurative language to represent objects, actions and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our physical senses

  • It was dark and dim in the forest. – The words “dark” and “dim” are visual images.
  • The children were screaming and shouting in the fields. - “Screaming” and “shouting” appeal to our sense of hearing or auditory sense.
  • He whiffed the aroma of brewed coffee. – “whiff” and “aroma” evoke our sense of smell or olfactory sense.
  • The girl ran her hands on a soft satin fabric. – The idea of “soft” in this example appeals to our sense of touch or tactile sense.
  • The fresh and juicy orange are very cold and sweet. – “ juicy” and “sweet” when associated with oranges have an effect on our sense of taste or gustatory sense.


A contrast or discrepancy between what is said and what is meant or between what happens and what is expected to happen in life and in literature.

In verbal irony, characters say the opposite of what they mean.

In irony of circumstance or situation, the opposite of what is expected occurs.

In dramatic irony, a character speaks in ignorance of a situation or event known to the audience or to the other characters


A figure of speech in which two things are compared, usually by saying one thing is another, or by substituting a more descriptive word for the more common or usual word that would be expected.

Some examples of metaphors: the world's a stage, he was a lion in battle, drowning in debt, and a sea of troubles.


A figure of speech in which words are used to imitate sounds.

Examples of onomatopoeic words are buzz, hiss, zing, clippety-clop, and tick-tock.


A figure of speech in which things or abstract ideas are given human attributes


The occurrence of the same or similar sounds at the end of two or more words.

Rhyme can be classified according to its placement within a poetic line or lines.  Rhyme can occur at the end of two more lines (end rhyme) or within a line (internal rhyme) or even at the beginning of two or more line (beginning rhyme)

Rhyme Scheme

Pattern of rhymes


A figure of speech in which two things are compared using the word “like” or “as.”


An object or action in a literary work that means more than itself, that stands for something beyond itself.


The main idea, message, or moral of a literary work abstracted from its details of language, character, and action, and cast in the form of a generalization.  

Remember that theme statements should be complete sentences NOT single words (topics).


The implied attitude of a writer toward the subject and characters of a work

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