Department of English

Basics of metaphor and simile

Seamus Cooney

This page is intended to help you refresh your grasp of what you presumably should have learned in your earlier schooling or in introductory classes in literary study.

No matter far how one advances in experience, a return to basics is never without benefit.

So first, some definitions:

Next, some examples from poetry. Memorize these, or a couple of them, as reference examples.

  • Check your grasp of the distinction on this page of samples.

  • There are many pages on the Web about metaphor, it turns out. Here's one that prints a relevant discussion by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, among the high priests of the New Criticism.

  • Return to Index of poems

    (1) It is an interesting mark of linguistic development (or decline?) that more recent editions of this dictionary are entitled Chambers Dictionary.

    Last updated March 7, 1999 by Seamus Cooney