Basic Poetic Techniques to Analyze Poetry

By Diyoni Fernando


This procedure is used by starting the three or more words with the same sound. Here, similar sounds are repeated twice or more.

Ex: The crazy cracking crops

She sells seashells

The 3 words does not need to have the exact beginning to have this effect. Alliteration is a great tool to be used for descriptions along with raising the reader’s attention about a specific subject



The repetition of vowels sound within syllables with changing consonants. This is used in many different circumstances

Ex: ‘tilting at windmills’

‘Clap your hands and stamp our feet’



This effect sparks off the senses. Despite the image being a synonym for picture, images do not need to be visual, it can be any of the senses (touch, taste, hearing, sight, smell) can produce a respond to the poet’s writings. Or in other way, you can get nostalgic reading the work and get to remind of a past incident or an experience, that’s also taken as imagery.

Ex: taste – the familiar tang of his grandmother’s cranberry sauce reminded him of his youth

Sound – the concert was so loud that her ears rang for days afterwards

Sight – the sunset was the most gorgeous they’d ever seen; the clouds were edged in with

pink and gold



It’s a word or a phrase uses one way to mean another. Metaphors exactly image a certain thing to something else, proclaiming that they both are the same, not like in simile. In simile it was a suggestion telling like, or as, but here it certainly mentions this is this or that. They give writers the more power than a simile to express their thought about a certain situation.

Ex: the snow is a white blanket

He’s a shining star

kisses are the flowers of affections



Onomatopoeia is one of the easiest to learn and use as well. Definition of Onomatopoeia is a word imitating a sound

Ex: buzz, moo, beep

Crooo, crack crack, bow bow

This can be used in a variety of ways giving the reader the “hands on feel”. Onomatopoeia is a free way to have the user experience one of the senses often overlooked in poetry: sound



As for similes, they are an expression that compares one thing to another. A paradigm of this would be “the milk tastes like pickles”. This method can be used in all forms of poetry as well as in general English at the same time using “as”, “like”. It may be used to help your readers better identify with characteristics of objects or circumstances with examples related or with certain exaggerations to show its importance.

Ex: brave as a lion

They fought like cats and dogs



This is a form of figurative language in which something that is not a human is given with human characteristics. This is mostly used in poetry to enhance the meaning and beauty and most importantly the importance of the thing described in the poem.

Ex: the car was suffering and was in need of some TLC

The wind howled in the night



Refrain is a verse, a line, a set of words or a group of lines that appears at the end of stanza or appears where a poem divides into different sections. This is a poetic device that repeats at regular intervals in different stanzas.

Ex: the woods are lovely, dark and deep

But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep


Ex: well it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe,

Even you don’t know by now

And it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe

It’ll never do somehow



Complete section of a song that is repeated, where a refrain is a line or two (often at the end or each verse or the beginning of each chorus). This enhance the melody and meaning of song as well. It also helps to make it more harmonious to sing. (used mostly in songs) it can also be defined as the climax of the song or a poem where the meaning should be emphasized.



This is mostly the well-known type of poetic device. However, like popular belief, it does not need to be within a poem to make it a poem. This technique establishes the flow within writing.

Ex: the floor was swept

Ivy shadows crept


Rhyme scheme

The ordered pattern of rhymes at the ends of the poem or verse.

Ex: Bed me to weep, and I will weep         A

While I have eyes to see                               B

And having none, yet I will keep                A

A heart to weep for thee                              B


Run on lines/enjambment

A thought, a sense, phrase or clause in a line of poetry that does not come to an end at the line break, but moves over the next line to the next without a major pause or syntactical break.


Word play (pun)

Also called play on words where it’s a literary technique and a form of wit in which words used become the main subject of the work, primarily for the purpose of the intended effects or amusement. Simply, a clever and witty use of words and meaning.

Ex: horse is a very stable animal

Geometry is so pointless



This is a text arranged in such a way that it forms a thematically related image. It can be a poem, a phrase, a portion of scripture or a single word. The visual arrangement can rely on certain situation related or not to the text meaning.


This post is kindly provided by our one of the generous partners to this blog, Ms. M.M.D. Fernando. Hope it is useful for the beginner learners of literature. You can also read: 

Top 10 Figures of Speech that you should know

most important figures of speech


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