Acknowledgement- Mr.Siddharth Joshi

Figures of Speech

Figures of speech are the most common type of questions which are asked in CBSE or for that matter any board examination. Since, poetry has so many things to learn about, it’s not at all easy to mug up all the instances where we are asked these in the poems.

I bring to you this small guide with the most commonly used figures of speech. I assure you that 99% of what you see below is the only thing you need to know to answer these 1 markers!

Here is a list of what all you need to know about:

  1. Simile

Simile is nothing but comparison between two very different objects. While comparing we need to use comparitive words:  like, as etc.

For example:

As red as blood, he fought like a lion.

Eg:… her face ashen like that of a corpse

  • Metaphor

It is almost similar to a simile but here we take it for granted that both the objects are same. In short, we can call it an implied simile. In metaphor while comparing we do not use comparative words. For example:

She was the lioness in the battle field.

Life is a dream.

Let’s take up an example to clear the difference between a metaphor and a simile.

Sachin played like a warrior (simile)

Sachin was a warrior in the game (Metaphor)

  • Personification

Here a motionless object (like a table) is spoken as if it has life.

Eg:…..trees sprinting

A roadside stand that too pathetically pled…..

  • Apostrophe

Hey you little teddy bear, does she love me? Don’t take my wrong, this is what Apostrophe actually is. It’s when an author or poet directs a speech towards an abstract object or an imaginary person.

Eg: Well hello jet plane!

  • Oxymoron

In this figure of speech, two contradictory terms are combined together. It’s derived from a Greek word which literally means “Sharp dull”.

Eg: Greedy good-doers, beneficient beasts of prey

  • Irony

This one is the most commonly used of all in our day-to-day conversations. Irony is a form where the literal meaning is completely opposite to what is conveyed by the author or the poet.

Eg: Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid

This is taken from Aunt Jennifer’s tigers and it brings forth a sense of irony because the tigers are much stronger than the woman who created them.

I’ve tried getting examples from NCERT textbooks so that you can relate them while you’re going through the poems.

  • Repetition:

In this, there is a repetition of a word in a sentence.

Example: it was so so unexpected.

  • Alliteration:

Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words or stressed syllables.

Example: Oh, wild west wind!

  • Hyperbole:

In this, extreme exaggeration is made.

Example: I have told you a million times.

  1. Refrain:

There is a repetition of a line in a stanza.

Example: And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.  (This line gets repeated many times in the poem, Custard the dragon.

  1. Imagery:

When words have their symbolic meaning.

Example: In the poem Keeping Quiet: Whales are symbolic of poor suppressed people and Fishermen word symbolises People in power.

Figure of Speeches used in class-12 English Core Poems

My Mother at Sixty-six (poetic devices/figures of speech)

By Kamala Das

Simile – a) her face ashen like that of a corpse b) As a late winter’s moon Personification – Trees sprinting

Metaphor – merry children spilling out of their homes

Repetition– smile and smile and smile…

An Elementary school (Poetic Devices):

Like rootless weeds – simile

Paper-seeming boy – metaphor, Rat’s eyes – metaphor,

Like bottle bit -simile

Shut upon their lives like catacombs – simile

Last four lines – visual imagery

Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda (poetic devices/figures of speech)

The poet has used symbols and comparisons to explain how we can end conflicts, wars and corrosive activities that are leading to the death of our civilization. He advocates keeping quiet and still for a while to introspect and understand ourselves and our relationship with our brothers and nature to build a peaceful and harmonious world order.

‘Count to twelve’ – symbolizes a measure of time. The clock has twelve markings on it, the year has twelve months and the day has twelve hoursLet’s- repetition to create a bond with the reader and stress his point.‘Fishermen in the cold sea…hurt hands’-symbolic image showing how man is ruthlessly destroying nature and harming other species in cold blood for his selfish need and greed. The ‘hurt hands’ – the sore hands of the salt gatherer would make him realize how he is harming himself by his mindless corrosive activities.…put on clean clothes’- metaphor. The poet says that quiet introspection will make us comprehend the destructive nature of wars. Man would shed his blood soiled clothes and don on clean clothes i.e. he would cleanse his soul, heart and mind, purging it of all anger and hatred.Brothers -symbol of mankindIn the shade- metaphor- just as shade protects us from the harsh sun, we will protect and shelter each other as brothers, thus live in peace and harmony.Earth can teach us as when everything… symbol, Just as earth, the greatest creator, in its sleeping mode appears to be dead on surface but is actually dormant and carefully preserving the seeds of life, human beings too need to keep still and quiet to rejuvenate and awaken the life forces within and be productive.

A Thing of beauty-John Keats (poetic devices/figures of speech)

Metaphor: bower quiet; sweet dreams; wreathing a flowery band; pall; endless fountain of immortal drink

Alliteration: noble natures; cooling covert; band to bind

Imagery: flowery bands, shady boon, daffodils in green world, clear rills, cooling covert, grandeur of dooms, endless fountain of eternal drink

Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger(poetic devices/figures of speech)

By Adrienne Rich

Alliteration-Finger’s fluttering; prancing proud; chivalric certainty; weight of wedding band

Visual imagery- Bright topaz denizens; world of green

Irony: It is ironical that Aunt Jennifer’s creations- the tigers will continue to pace and prance freely, while Aunt herself will remain terrified even after death, ringed by the ordeals she was controlled by in her married life.

Metaphor: Ringed with ordeals: even death would not free her as the wedding band, a symbol of oppression,, would yet be on her finger.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT- Mr. Siddharth Joshi
(TGT English, Delhi Public School, Rajkot)

🔹Accomplished educator with high experience along with extensive supervisory background. Proven
ability to establish, coordinate and lead, academic, cultural, religious and community outreach programs.

🔹Certified teacher with well-deserved reputation for motivating students and enhancing classroom experiences.

🔹Proficiency : Cambridge IGCSE Certified teacher

🔹Major Achievement/s : Chanakya Award for research work on Legacy of Egyptian Empires and Case Study of King Tutankhamun’s death mystery

🔹Part time ‘Article’ and
‘Poetry’ writer in The Times Of India.



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