What is imagery in poetry?

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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Imagery in poetry refers to the pictures or images that are conjured up in the readers mind, by the words that a poet uses in his or her poem. For example, instead of saying "wealthy woman with a dog", a poet could say, " a diamond studded collar hung from the neck of her poodle" which would indicate wealth.

Through the use of words, the poet creates images that evoke meaning in the reader's mind.

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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The root meaning of 'imagery' is to 'imitate.' It literally means 'a reflection in a mirror.'  Hence, an 'image' is 'a word picture' by means of which the poet conveys his feelings and emotions to his readers. When we come across an image in a poem it helps us to imagine and experience the same feelings and emotions which the poet experienced.

For example, Shelley in his "Ode to a Skylark" is captivated by the beauty of the bird but he is unable to make his readers comprehend its  beauty  in a few words, so he compares the skylark to a series of objects and hopes that the images he has created will help his readers to comprehend the beauty of the bird:

"What thou art we know not; What is most like thee? From rainbow clouds there flow not Drops so bright to see,

As from thy presence showers a rain of melody: -"

In this stanza he compares the beauty of the skylark and its soul stirring melody to the raindrops which form  the rainbow.



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