Imagery Examples in Poetry

‘Imagery’ is used to enrich poetry or prose. It conveys world picture. Through this article, users will be able to read 5 types of imagery as well as imagery examples in poetry.

Definition

‘Imagery’ is used to enrich poetry or prose. It conveys world pictures. The imagery evokes an imaginative, emotional response and provides a vivid, specific description comparison. It is the construction of details used to create mental images in the reader’s mind through visual sense as well as touch, smell, taste or sound. In other words, we can say that imagery represents sense experience through language.

Common Examples of Imagery

  1. She is a tall girl with long brown hair. (Vision)
  2. The tiny bird flapped its wings again and again but could not fly. (Vision)
  3. Melodious sounds of birds. (hearing)
  4. Wet grass. (touch)
  5. The freshness of the wind. (smell)
  6. The fragrance of a flower. (smell)
  7. Blue sky. (sight)
  8. The softness of flowers. (touch)
  9. Salty pop-corns. (taste)
  10. Hard iron bench. (touch)

Let’s start with five types of imagery.

5 Types of Imagery:

There are five (5) types of imagery. The detail of which is given below.

  • Vision / sight
  • Auditory / Hearing
  • Olfactory / Smell
  • Gustatory / Taste
  • Tactile / Touch

Use of imagery in Literature:

Poets/writers use imagery to generate a vibrant and graphic presentation of a scene that appeals to as many of the reader’s senses as possible. It helps readers’ imaginations envision the character and setting depicted in the literary piece.

Imagery of a Poem

Imagery is used in poetry and prose to enhance the reader’s experience of the piece. Imagery draws on all five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) to describe a scene or character.

It is a key element to poetry that adds color, texture and meaning to the poem. Imagery is described as words that appeal to our sense of sight or other senses.

In this poem, there are many examples of imagery:

  • the “sounds of old”
  • “never to be forgotten”
  • “at the door”

Imagery Examples in Poetry:

  • Imagery is descriptive language that helps readers better understand what is happening. The author of the poem achieves imagery through the use of carefully selected words. Poets have an abundance of words through which they choose just the right words to create a sensory experience for the readers. It is part of the poet’s style to see the world in his way. Imagery is called the reflection of the genre in which the poet lives.

Faerie Queene (by Edmund Spencer)

“A gentle knight was pricking on the plain” “The day with clouds was suddeineouercast” “her huge long tail her den overspread, yet was in knots, pointed with mortal sting”

Spencer’s use of imagery words like ‘gentle knight’, ‘huge long tail’ are creating fascinating effect in the poem. The first line depicts the sense of freedom and openness. The second line suggests readers to know about the upcoming danger. The poet portrays that evil can be present in many forms.

Daffodils (by Wordsworth)

“I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high over whales and hill, When all at once, I saw a crowd, a host of Golden, a host of Golden daffodils. Beside the lake beneath the trees fluttering and dancing in the breeze

Throughout the whole poem, the imagery words are overloading. The internal condition of the poet has been expressed by portraying the movement of daffodils. In the first line of the stanza, the poet describes that “I wandered lonely as a cloud’ which means that he is facing loneliness in his life. He observes the daffodils alongside the river which appeals to his mind. He portrays its sketch into his imagination.

“Ode on a Grecian Urn” (by John Keats)

“Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness”

‘Keats’ considers urn like a bride. In other words, he used imagery to tell the readers about the purity of urn on earth.

He further explains urn by saying,

“Sylvan historian, who canst thus express A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme.”

‘Keats’ considers that the urn is a useful tool to know about the history than the tool of writing which writers uses

He further discusses urn by using imagery,

“What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape”.

Here ‘Keats’ uses imagery to further tell about urn that it is decorated with difference scenes of history.

‘Keats’ further uses the imagery of empty town situated near the river and he says that the town is empty and people are silent, perhaps they go to distant altar for worship. He says,

“What little town by river or sea shore Or mountain built with peaceful citadel”

“Stopping by words on a Snowy evening” (by Robert Frost)

“He gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there is some mistake, the only other sounds the sweet of crazy winds and downy flake”.

‘Robert Frost’ uses the imagery by describing the personification of a horse who stopped on the way in the woods, which was new to him.

“The Shell” (by James Stephens)

“An straightway like a bell came low and clear The slow, sad murmur of the distant seas, And in the hush of waters Was the sound of pebbles rolling sound, For ever rolling with a hollow sound”

The above-underlined words indicate the use of imagery. The poet is sensual, and he personifies nature after close observation.

“Baby Face” (by Carl Sandburg)

“Out on the land white moon shines, Shines and glimmers against gnarled shadows, All silver to slow twisted shadows Falling across the long road that runs from the house”

The use of imagery words in the above lines is overloaded. The poet personifies the moon, which is a twist in shape, and its shadow stretches to a large extent on the road.

“The Loon” (by Lew Sarett)

“A lonely lake, a lonely shore, A lone pine leaning on the moon; All night the water-beating wings; Of a solitary loon”.

The words ‘lonely lake’, ‘lonely shore’, ‘water beating’ and ‘solitary loon’ exemplify loneliness and distressful condition. These words suggest the state of mind of the poet. Perhaps he is also facing a panic condition in his life or his thoughts.

“Who has seen the wind” (by Christiana Rosetti)

Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you But when the leaves Hang trembling The wind is passing thoroughly

‘Rosetti’, by creating imagery in her poetry, explores the universality concept of natural things. She describes the wind, which otherwise cannot be a material thing, but one can feel it when it passes through him. By creating images of the wind, he says that the things we cannot see may still impact us.  

“The Most Dangerous Game” (by Richard Connell)

In the above play, ‘‘Richard Connell” through his character ‘Rains ford’ enumerates the conflict between man and nature. He perfectly sketches the scene when the ship sank, and he could not see what was happening because of darkness and blames nature for this drowning.

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (By Beatles)

Picture yourself in a boat on a river, With tangerine trees and marmalade skies Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly A girl with kaleidoscope eyes Towering over your head Lo’k for the girl with the sun in her eyes.

Here the use of words, ‘tangerine trees’, ‘marmalade skies’, ‘kaleidoscope eyes’ are prevailing the sense of imagination. The poet is impressed by the girl’s physique and praises her eyes, head and face. He considers her eyes so fascinating that one cannot make eye contact with her.

Look at another example of imagery in the well known play.

“The Great Gatsby” (by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

“Occasionally a line of grey cars crawls along an invisible track, gives different a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the as-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight”.

Why Writers use imagery:

  1. To give specific detail and strong diction.
  2. To reveal something about a character setting, or object.
  3. To speak to our deepest feelings, joy, sorrow, wonder, joke.
  4. To emphasize certain qualities of the subject creating a mode.
  5. Helps reader to better understand what is happening

Further Reading

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