What are the literary terms used in Emily Dickinson's poem "The Battlefield"?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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There are actually no literary terms found in Emily Dickinson's poem "The Battlefield," but perhaps you mean to ask about literary devices? When you ask about terms, you are actually asking about the terms, or words, used to describe literary devices, and we can certainly see several literary devices in Dickinson's poem.

One example of a literary device is figurative language, and there are also several different types of figurative language, including personification, similes, metaphors, and many more. Similes are similar to metaphors in that both convey meaning by comparing two unrelated objects. The difference is that similes only say that something is like another object, whereas metaphors say that something is the other object.

Dickinson uses a string of similes in the very first two lines: "They dropped like flakes, they dropped like stars, / Like petals from a rose." In these clauses, she is describing a battlefield by describing how the fighting soldiers fell to the ground in both death and injury. Dickinson describes that the soldiers fell to the ground as plentifully as snowflakes fall to the ground; they fell to the ground as plentifully as shooting stars; and they also fell to the ground just as plentifully as petals fall from roses.

Personification is a form of figurative language in which we attribute human characteristics to inanimate objects or abstract concepts. Dickinson also uses personification in the last two lines of the first stanza: "When suddenly across the June / A wind with fingers goes." Since wind does not literally have the human characteristic of fingers, we know this is a perfect example of personification. She is also using the personification to describe the sudden and gripping June wind that blew over the battlefield.