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It Is What It Is: Metaphor

Hello my lovely poets!


I hope that everyone is doing their best to stay healthy and stay indoors. As I write, I am curled up on the couch next to my cat while the newest episode of Ru Paul's Drag Race plays in the background. These are crazy and uncertain times that we find ourselves in, but it's important that we stay optimistic and (more importantly) stay informed. Call it what you will, but I am excited to see the poetry and the creativity that comes out of this crisis. The writing community is going to create so many beautiful things in the coming months, and I can't wait to read all of it! We're going to get through this, and we are going to come out stronger on the other side.

With that being said, let's get into it! Today, we'll be talking about one of the key ingredients to a "good" poem: metaphor.


Simply put, a metaphor is the comparison between two things that are not alike, and replaces that word with another word. The main purpose of a metaphor is to paint a picture for the reader, and perhaps get them to see something from another perspective.


"But Nicola, how is a metaphor different from a simile? They are both comparisons!"


I've definitely gotten hung up on the difference between the two myself, and the simplest way to remember it is this:


Metaphor says that the subject is another thing.

Simile says that the subject is "like" another thing.


Metaphor is a direct comparison, where as a simile is a more loose comparison using "like" or "as".


If there is one man who truly mastered the metaphor, it's Mr. Billy Shakes (or William Shakespeare, as the academics call him). I always refer to Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18", known for it's opening line "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?", when thinking about metaphor, because it's such a concrete example:


"But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,

Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

The metaphor that the speaker is using here is comparing the object of their affection to the beauty of nature during summer. The speaker states that while summer's beauty cannot last, their beauty will be eternal so long as this poem exists.


Metaphor is one of the best things to play around with in poetry, because it allows certain aspects of a poem to be open to interpretation. Different readers will take away different things based on how they read the poem and interpret the metaphor. Play around with metaphor in your own work this week and see what you can do!


What is the best use of metaphor in your opinion? How do you like to use metaphor in your work? Is there anything about metaphor that you struggle with in your work? Let me know below!


Until next time!


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"A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language."

- W.H. Auden

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