Figurative language contains images. To add interest, make things clearer, or create a word picture, a poet often describes something through the use of unusual comparisons. Similes, metaphors, and personification are examples of figurative language used in poems of comparison.
Similes compare two unlike things that have something in common, using the words like or as to make the comparison. A simile says This is like That or This behaves as That does.
Example: Emeralds are as green as grass, a ruby red as blood
(from “Flint” by Christina Rossetti)
Metaphors also compare two unlike things, but without the words like or as. Metaphors simply say This is That.
Example: The night is a big black cat / The Moon is her topaz eye
(from “The Night Is a Big Black Cat” by G. Orr Clark)
Personification gives human traits, characteristics, or qualities to a non-human subject.
Example: I thought I heard the city crying in its sleep
(from “Foghorns” by Lilian Moore)
Below is an example of how poems of comparison combine some of these poetic devices. See if your children can identify the following:
- Examples of personification
- Vivid verbs
- Strong adjectives
The Night Forest
Wild and scary, like a nightmare,
Darkness hovers over the ancient forest.
Trees moan weakly
As the wailing wind
Teases their black branches.
Tall pines lift gnarled arms upward
Waiting for the peace of dawn.
Directions for Writing Poems of Comparison
- Write a poem using a combination of similes, metaphors, and personification.
- Be sure to use descriptive imagery, including bold, colorful words. Your thesaurus will definitely help!
- Your poem does not have to rhyme.
- Do not write your poem in paragraph form. Write individual lines.
- Begin each line with a capital letter. Look at the example above to see how this is done.
Topic ideas for poems of comparison
- a kitchen appliance, like a toaster or mixer
- beach or ocean or waves
- a howling wind or a gentle breeze, a rainstorm or blizzard
- mountains or hills or a field or meadow
- storm clouds
- rivers, streams, creeks, waterfalls
- a season (summer, fall, winter, spring)
- a spring sky filled with big fluffy clouds
- a kind of animal
- How does my subject look like a person?
- How does my subject act like a person?
- What can I compare my subject to? What can my subject be? What can it be like?
Idea: When writing poems of comparison, compare your subject to a color, a smell, a taste, an animal, a machine, or a vehicle.
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