What are the figures of speech in "The Witch" by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge?

1 Answer

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, once a teacher, was known more as a novelist, but she also wrote quite a bit of verse as well. In her poem, "The Witch," there are several devices (figures of speech) that the author uses; some are specifically, poetic devices as well.

In the first stanza, Coleridge uses internal rhyme, where a word in the middle of a line rhymes with a word at the end of that line, seen here with "wet" and "set:"

My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set...

There is some irregular rhyme used: I say irregular because the stanzas are irregular in size and also, then, in terms of end rhyme. For instance, in the first stanza, the second and fourth lines rhyme, and again, there is rhyme in the sixth and seventh lines. The fourth stanza follows the same rhyme scheme.

Repetition is also seen with the line that is repeatedly used through the poem, almost word-for-word each time—stressing the importance of that line:

...lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door...

Personification is seen in giving non-human things, human characteristics—in this case, the wind cannot be cruel.

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.

The following line uses both repetition and internal rhyme:

She came—she came—and the quivering flame

The following line is an example of a metaphor, which compares two very different things that share similar characteristics—obviously "her" hands are not stone: she is not a statue—but the cold must make her hands feel like stone.

My hands are stone...

These are the most obvious literary devices I see.