Monday, 23 January 2012

A Metaphor Speaks for Itself

by Celia Warren

Well, a metaphor doesn't literally speak for itself, as it has no voice. To say a metaphor speaks for itself is personification, a particular type of metaphor, where an inanimate object displays human characteristics; in this case the power of speech.

Power is the operative word. It is why we so often use figurative language: it makes what we have to say more powerful. The image becomes stronger, more memorable and has greater impact on the reader. For example, I could say that I put my hands in my pockets. I could say that I clenched my fists inside my pockets. Or I could say (as I did in my popular poem, Left Out) “My hands are rocks in my pocket”. The metaphor adds weight to the image I'm creating.

Sometimes, when you are writing a poem, it is fun to experiment with an extended metaphor. That is where the imagery continues along a theme. Let's have a go at creating a short descriptive poem using an extended metaphor. We'll start with something simple:

The moon is a round cheese.

Now we'll explore that cheesy image further. Where is the moon? (in the night sky) Where is the cheese? (on a plate). Okay, let's try:

The moon is a round cheese
on a deep blue plate.

Can we say a bit more about the moon?

The moon is a round cheese
on a deep blue plate
that twinkles with grated crumbs.

Hmm. Well, it's not a great poem (more a grated one), but it's a start. Why don't you create your own metaphor for the moon and play around with developing an extended metaphor? Share your poems with us, if you like.


  1. A really useful blog. If you build your metaphors like this you get very vivid poems because the pictures have been carefully created.

  2. Spring's Moon's a moth
    drawn by Morning's star

    Summer's Moon's a mellon
    warming the honey air

    Autumn's Moon's a leaf
    torn by wind and shower

    Winter's Moon's a thief
    stealing daylight's hours