What are some literary devices used in the poem "The Frog and the Nightingale" by Vikram Seth?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In a poem, an author has fewer words and a different structure than in prose.  Poets rely on figurative language to get their meaning across and create the sound they want.  Here are some examples from your poem.

Alliteration (the repetition of consonant sounds)- Alliteration does not create meaning, but it does make a nice sound.  It can assist in the rhythm of a poem.  There is an example in line 2-3, where the b and d are repeated.

Croaked away in Bingle Bog.

Every night from dusk to dawn (lines 2-3)

Rhyme and couplets (pairs of rhyming lines)- Rhyme is also used to help a poem sound a certain way.  It can also help with meaning, because it can create a sing-song, almost silly rhythm.  This poem is arranged in couplets.

Neither stones nor prayers nor sticks,

Insults or complaints or bricks

Stilled the frog's determination

To display his heart's elation. (lines 11-14)

Allusionis a reference to history or literature.  In this poem, we have an allusion to “I’m Nobody, Who are You?” by Emily Dickinson.  The poem comments that it would be dreary to be a frog and “to tell one's name – the livelong June –/To an admiring Bog!”

Dumbstruck sat the gaping frog,

And the whole admiring bog (lines 19-20)

Satire is when an author or poet makes fun of a subject or comments on it humorously.   In this poem, the frog tricks the nightingale into thinking he can teach her and therefore destroys her.  The frog is repulsive, and the nightingale is beautiful, but the frog is the one who wins.  Although this seems like a sweet children's poem, there is a strong message here about manipulation of the strong over the talented but weak.


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