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Imagery | Definition | Examples

The use of imagery in poetry isn’t as straight forward as you’d think. An image should be complete and descriptive; in poetry, stating that “here, we have a puddle” isn’t enough because there’s no use of descriptive language. This is “telling without showing”. When you see a puddle, there are other traits; the reflection being the one of the first that we notice. A complete image utilizes every aspect of your object or character. If you build a habit of using images frivolously, you’ll end up losing sight of what you’re trying to express, and so will the reader.

Definition of Imagery:

Here is my answer – Imagery, in poetry, is the use of objects, people and places to create a coherent scene in the mind of the reader. As for how you might use imagery in your writing, I’d like you to find your answer on your own; in your journey as a poet. To help you with that, I recommend you look up and read Imagist poetry.

 

I know this day – the kiss of leaves upon my lids

Allow me to witness the ways the sunrays hide

With their beams of marble white, a heaven so excited.

This day reminds of silken skin, the fabric of the summer side

Forests abloom with angel wings, bathing in the sunshine

The rain escorts the season’s mistress clad in fallen leaves

To present the summer’s dance into autumn’s release.

This is a good sight for the imagination, but when people read poetry, they usually want to take a message from it. The poem focuses all intentions on building up the scene and neglects delivering the emotional impact that a poem should have. There are steps you can take to make yourself a better reader and writer that will help you detect such faults in your poetry.

  • SCAN YOUR POETRY AS YOU WRITE IT

Be sure to read your poetry over as many times as necessary to make sure you reach the standards of what you deem “poetic”. You should always have some idea of what the word poetic means to you so that you can create a poem that is as much a pleasure to read as it is for you to write. When using imagery in your writing, be sure not to drown your poetry in scenic dribble. Imagine reading your poetry to an audience. They would first look for rhythm, since meaning in poetry can be hard to interpret if it isn’t in front of them. When read to oneself, imagery-clogged poetry will be read similarly – it won’t be interpreted; we’ll be looking for rhythm first, then think about the images. A good way to make sure you don’t clog your writing is to use literary devices such as compare and contrast that will both express an idea and display an image.

  • SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR WRITING 

To remove any bias, it’s best to find some ways to distance yourself from what you’ve written. One thing I’d try is reading your favorite poets. It’s a good way to sharpen your mind so that you’re ready once you start writing again. If you’re mentally fried, then I’d suggest you to take a break for a while. Over time, you should be able to tell when you’re getting lazy with your writing and just need to stop for a while. Take that as an opportunity to take a walk or look up photos of your subject.

  • LEARN FROM YOUR PAST POETRY

You sometimes have that gem that appears once every few poems, and might start wishing that the rest of your poetry was similar. A great way to improve your writing is to imitate what you love about what you’ve written before. This may cause some inconsistencies in your writing as you practice, but it’s well worth it. You can find further explanation of how to write the occasional impressive line in “”Short Poems | Nature”.

 

 

That’s it for the advice this blog!

Hopefully you’ll find this advice useful!

I’d buy some books of imagist poetry to add to your repertoire of knowledge.

Poems by the Imagist Poet – Amy Lowell

Poems by the Imagist – Hilda Doolittle

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4 thoughts on “Imagery | Definition | Examples

  1. I like writing poetry, so naturally, I found your article quite interesting. Thank you for the reminder of how important rhythm is to make a poem pleasing to read. First rhythm, then imagery. I need to remind myself of this as I find it too easy to get too caught up with trying to make my poetry “fancy” before I have laid the proper foundation of rhythm. 

    1. We need to get into our reader’s heads, and we can do that by looking at ourselves when we read. Meaning in poetry is very important but it gets overshadowed by every other device we use, that’s why I love Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, he uses such simple language so the story is very clear. I think the hardest part of writing poetry is telling a story with meaning behind it.

  2. Poetry is a much deeper art than the novel itself. When I read a novel there is a faster pace but poetry is more reflective. Having watched movies there is a huge difference between art and mainstream. 

    I am not sure if that is a good analogy but mainstream movies would be more like a novel they are more paced. Art movies are like poetry they are deep and reflective. Correct me if I am wrong.

    1. Yes, I agree that poetry is more reflective; it requires an attention to detail as the poet tries to say so much with so little. I think documentaries would be more like poetry. 

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