Metaphors in Hughes’, Poe’s and Dickinson’s Poems
Poetry is a unique genre of literature full of bright descriptions and unique images created by poets. They use various stylistic devices and means to emphasize the central idea and attract readers’ attention to a particular message. Metaphor is a widely used figures of speech and can be found in numerous poems. It Introduces an unusual comparison of objects and adds a symbolic meaning helping to make a poem more meaningful. For this reason, finding and understanding metaphors are vital for comprehending the poem. Metaphor’s role can be understood by analyzing the poems “Harlem,” “Annabel Lee,” and “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.”
The poem “Harlem” is written by Langston Hughes to introduce his vision of a dream. The author asks the reader, “what happens to a dream deferred?” (Hughes line 1). Introducing a central metaphor, he answers the question and offers his idea. Hughes compares it to various perishable things that might disappear with time, meaning that it is critical to follow the dream immediately. He keeps asking, “Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun? / Or fester like a sore – / And then run?” (Hughes lines 1-4). These questions introduce comparisons helping to realize the central idea of the poem. If a dream becomes deferred, it might disappear, leading to disappointment and suffering.
“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Alan Poe is another poem with strong metaphors used by the author. Describing his feelings and love for a woman, the poet uses multiple comparisons to emphasize the strengths of his emotions. For instance, Poe says, “For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams / Of the beautiful Annabel Lee” (lines 34-35). The lines show metaphorically that the beauty of the night reminds him of Annabel Lee. Moreover, he continues, “And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes / Of the beautiful Annabel Lee” (Poe lines 36-37). He repeats the metaphor, now comparing stars with the eyes of the woman he loves. These stylistic devices help to understand the idea of true love and feeling.
The poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson also has specific stylistic devices used by the author. The whole work can be viewed as an extended metaphor of death. The author compares it to a journey with a man in a carriage that moves to immortality. The following lines prove it “The Carriage held but just Ourselves – / And Immortality” (Dickinson lines 3-4). Dickinson continues, “We slowly drove – He knew no haste” (Dickinson line 5). The author says that death will come for everyone, and there is no reason to be in a hurry. The whole ride is a life’s journey of a person ending with “the Setting Sun” (Dickinson line 12), which is another metaphor of death. In such a way, the poem uses a metaphor to represent the author’s view on the end of life.
Altogether, the three analyzed poems show that authors might use specific literary devices to emphasize the message they want to convey. Harlem,” “Annabel Lee,” and “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” introduce the metaphors of a fast-fading dream, love for a woman, and death. Using comparisons and adding symbolic meanings to particular words, poets make readers feel their emotions regarding a particular event or phenomenon and create a unique atmosphere. For this reason, metaphor remains a potent tool used by numerous authors in their works.
Dickinson, Emily. “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” Poetry Foundation.
Hughes, Langston. “Harlem.” Poetry Foundation.
Poe, Edgar Alan. “Annabel Lee.” Poetry Foundation.