In this post, I’ll be revealing the reasons that people enjoy reading poetry. I’ll also be discussing, in detail, the literary devices poets use to enhance the reading experience for readers and the different techniques a poet can use to better their writing and how they affect the reader. The pleasure we experience when reading is all to do with the meaning and experience that a poem offers the reader and the beauty that surfaces from the skillful use of words. The main devices I’d like to mention are tone of voice, word choice and cadence. I’m avoiding the use of the word “rhythm” as this seems to imply a constant meter. Poetry does not need meter or rhythm to have “cadence”.
To clear the difference between cadence and rhythm, I’ll define rhythm as the regular and repeated pattern of sound, (the same definition found on Google) while cadence is the flow of words in a sentence. The devices which have the highest impact on the reader are repetition, rhyme and rhythm. Repetition is the the basis for both rhyme and rhythm, but the device has another use in creating urgency in the reader. The device is expertly used in The Raven.
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—’Tis the wind and nothing more!”
THE USE OF LITERARY DEVICES
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now—now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
As for the poem The Bells, we see the same alliteration and repetition; Edgar goes from a light, merry tone to falling into a hurried and frantic pace. What I would like to highlight in this bullet is that these devices worked so well because each word and device had a place in the poems. Nothing feels out of place. Another point I’d like to make is this – don’t overuse devices such as alliteration as they can become distracting when they are unnecessary. Here’s a tip – use repetition to reinforce an emotion.
WORD CHOICE AND RHYTHM
Word choice is what most poets seem to have trouble with. I mean word choice not just as “the words used in a poem to convey meaning”, I mean the overall effect that these words have on the reader. Keeping this in mind, you should aim to maintain what Edgar Allan Poe calls “unity of effect,” which means that every part of a poem should help establish a unique and emotional impact. Word choice is a poem’s defining trait as most literary devices lean on it. As I said in the last paragraph, each device has its place. Repetition can get awkward when used improperly. As for rhythm, the relationship between that and word choice is less of a power struggle; one may struggle if the other is falling short. The sound of words and the way you order them creates rhythm, which is what word choice is; the careful placement of words to assist in the deliverance of emotion. They have more of a mutual relationship.
WHY WE LOVE REPETITION
We love repetition in poetry for the same reason that we love symmetry in design – our brains feel rewarded when it finds that a pattern exists in what our eyes are perceiving; because our brains are always looking for patterns. If I could find a word for symmetry in poetry that exists in compare and contrast and cause and effect (devices I use to help readers find meaning) – I’d look for it in the fact that our brains are satisfied by a justifiable ending – one that our reader feels our story deserves; just as the bird deserves a pair of wings to fly.
That’s it for this blog! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
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