Literary Terms


Poetic Devices

Poetry can be hard to define, but it's usually understood as the opposite of prose.

Prose is ordinary language (the normal way we speak and write). It consists of sentences and paragraphs. This paragraph is an example of prose. Most books and articles are written in prose. In fact, most of what you read every day is prose (with the exception of advertising slogans, labels, bullet points, etc.)

Poetry, on the other hand, is language that's used creatively, with less regard for the rules of grammar. It's like taking prose and boiling it down to the minimum number of words—the handful of words that stir our emotions or perfectly capture a mood. In poetry, also, we pay far more attention to rhythm and rhyme. In many ways, poetry is like music, and, indeed, there is little to distinguish a poem from the lyrics of a song.

Poetic devices are different from figurative language techniques. While poets use both, poetic devices affect how the poem sounds. When trying to identify poetic devices, you should read the lines out-loud. It may be easier to pick up these techniques with your ears than with your eyes.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.