If you’ve written creatively or studied it, you’ve probably heard the saying “create a picture with words.” This is referred to as imagery in poetry and literature: the usage of symbolic language to arouse the reader’s senses. The reader’s senses are engaged when a poet utilizes descriptive words skillfully; they are exposed to sights, tastes, scents, noises, internal and external emotions, and even personal emotion. Imagery comes to life thanks to the sensory elements in them.
What Does Poetry Imagery Mean?
Poetry uses imagery as a vivid and colorful type of description that engages the senses and the thoughts of the audience. Contrary to what the name implies, “imagery” refers to the complete range of sensory impressions, including interior emotions and bodily sensations. It is not only concerned with visual or mental depictions.
Poetry Imagery: 7 Types
In poetry, there are seven primary categories of imagery. Poets use figures of speech like simile, which is a direct correlation between two objects, metaphor, which is a contrast between two irrelevant subjects that share qualities, embodiment, which is the attribution of human attributes to non – human topics, and onomatopoeia to generate imagery which are all suitable to the poetry rhymes.
The seven categories of poetic imagery are listed below.
1. Audio-visual imagery
This kind of poetic imagery engages the reader’s auditory or auditory sense. It could have loud noises, harsh noises, quiet, or melody and other soothing sounds. Reading the poetry aloud reconstructs the aural experience since the poet may utilize a sound technique like onomatopoeia, or words that mimic sounds, in parallel to expressing a sound. The last poem John Keats composed before giving up poetry because it didn’t pay the bills is the little poem “To Autumn,” which was published in 1820. Keats ends it with aural images.
2. Gurgling metaphors.
By expressing a flavor the speaker or narrator of the poem enjoys, the poet engages the reader’s sense of taste in this kind of poetic imagery. It could have flavors like sweetness, pungency, saltiness, savory, or spice. This works particularly well when the poet depicts a flavor that the reader has already had and can remember. Walt Whitman used some unsettling gustatory images in his poem “This Compost” from 1856.
3. Mental images
By portraying a picture the speaker or narrator of the poem sees, the poet engages the reader’s sense of sight in this kind of poetic imagery. Colors, brightness, forms, sizes, and patterns could be included. Poets often utilize metaphor, simile, or personalization in their depiction to give readers a visual impression. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, a well-known poem by William Wordsworth, is a prime example.
4. Smell-based imagery
By portraying what the narrator of the poem breathes, the poet engages the reader’s sense of scent in this kind of poetic imagery. It could have inviting scents or repulsive smells. An instance is H.W. Longfellow’s poem “Rain in Summer.”
5. Natural imagery
The poet conveys inside feelings like fear, love, and sorrow along with inward sensations like exhaustion, hunger, and thirst using this kind of poetic imagery. Robert Frost uses organic imagery in his 1916 poem “Birches.”
6. Visualization in motion
The poet makes use of the reader’s feeling of motion while using this kind of poetic imagery. It might refer to the speaker or narrator of the poetry as well as the surroundings, and it can encompass the impression of rushing along in a car, a languid stroll, or a sharp shock while halting. For instance, the poetry “Leda and the Swan” by W.B. Yeats from 1923 opens with kinesthetic imagery.
7. Tactile imagery
By portraying what the narrator of the poetry experiences on their body, the poet uses this kind of poetic imagery to engage the reader’s sensation of touch. It could consist of how different temperatures, fabrics feel, and other bodily sensations. Take the poem “Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Browning from 1836 as an example.