What poetic device is used in "Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind"?

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind” is a poem from the Shakespeare play As You Like It. This poem is an example of a type of figurative language called personification. When writers personify, they give human characteristics to their subject.

If you look carefully at this poem, you will see that it is not actually about the winter wind at all. Shakespeare reveals his true meaning in the middle of the poem with the line “Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.” He is saying that people are often not true to their “friends” or “loved ones,” or that their friendship or love is not real. He uses the idea of a winter wind, which could be painful, to communicate how much more painful the false love and friendship is. So, when he says of the wind, “Thy tooth is not so keen,” he means that the pain caused by the wind (in the case, the wind’s metaphorical “tooth” can cause pain by biting) is not as hurtful as the emotional pain of the untrue friend or lover.

The personification is evident in the description of the wind. It is said to have a “tooth” and “breath.” It is also said to be less “unkind” than the untrue friend. These are human attributes rather than aspects of the wind. He uses the wind as a contrast to an aspect of human life; therefore, he needs to personify it.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare employs apostrophe in this poem.  Apostrophe is when the speaker addresses someone or something that cannot respond. In this case, the speaker directly addresses the winter wind in the first few lines, creating apostrophe.

Wind does not actually possess a "tooth" or "breath," but this personification draws attention to how much the wind's figurative bite can sting our skin and wound us.  Comparing the wind's blowing to breath and calling it "rude" also draws our attention to its harshness and the negative impact it can have on us. In personifying the wind, the speaker makes its features seem much more personal; however, even still, a false friend is much worse.

The speaker employs apostrophe again when he or she directly addresses the "bitter sky" in the second stanza. He also says that the "bite" of the frozen sky isn't as painful as the "sting" of not being remembered as a friend. He compares a physical pain to an emotional one via a simile: "Thy sting is not so sharp / As friend remembered not." A simile is a comparison of two unalike things using like or as.

lolololxox | Student

my favourite poem.

Zac Egs | Student

Hi,

It is an anaphora.

Best,

Zac Egs

Read the study guide:
As You Like It

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