In the poem Homework, I am wondering if I could find some help with identifying 5 literary devices throughout the poem..

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are multiple poetic, or literary, devices which can be found in Allen Ginsberg's poem Homework.

Assonance- Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound within a line of poetry. This can be found in the first line of the poem.

If I were doing my Laundry I’d wash my dirty Iran.

The "i" sound is repeated (as noted by the bolded letters in the line.

Hyperbole- A hyperbole is an exaggerated statement. A hyperbole is found in the first line of the poem.

If I were doing my Laundry I’d wash my dirty Iran.

Readers of the poem know that Ginsberg can not actually wash Iran. This is obviously an exaggeration.

Alliteration- Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound within a line of poetry. Alliteration can be found in the fifth line of the poem.

Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos.

The alliteration appears in the repetition of both the "r" and the "d" sound within the line.

Imagery- Imagery is the use of descriptive language in order to allow the reader to form a mental picture of the "scene" depicted in the poem (or text). Imagery is found throughout the poem. One specific line which allows a reader to form a mental picture of what is going on appears in line two.

I’d throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap, scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in the jungle.

Here, the reader can see a great washer into which lands are being tossed.

Personification- Personification is the giving of human traits or characteristics to non-human/non-living things. Personification can be found in line ten.

Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out the tattletail Gray of U.S. Central American police state.

Here, Central America is given the ability to be a "tattletail."

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to the devices mentioned above, Ginsberg uses metaphor, allusion, wordplay, repetition, and internal rhyme.

Ginsberg uses an extended metaphor throughout the poem, comparing the need to clean up politics and the environment around the world to doing a load of household laundry, using a light-hearted, humorous and domestic metaphor to make a serious point that there is much wrong with the world. We would never, he implies, let our clothes get as dirty as our planet. He begins the poem, for instance, by stating that if he were doing laundry, he would throw in Iran, the US, and Africa and ends the poem by stating he would put the whole planet in the drier.

This poem was written in 1980 and alludes to (references) current events of the time. A person would have to be familiar with what was going on in the world in the 1960s and 1970s to fully understand what Ginsberg is talking about: for example, Love Canal in New York was badly polluted by chemicals and Agent Orange was used in the Viet Nam war. Normally, we think of poems as alluding to other poems or to the Bible or Greek Mythology. Ginsberg instead references modern life.

Witty wordplay makes this poem come alive for anyone aware of popular culture of that time period or of such classic nursery rhymes as "rub a dub dub, three men in a tub." Ginsberg also creates wordplay out of common cliches: for example, "wash my dirty Iran"  is a play on "wash my dirty linen."

Ginsberg repeats words such as "rub" and "snow" to emphasize his desire to vigorously clean the planet, and "I'd," which emphasizes this poem as an expression of his subjective desires.

Finally, Ginsberg uses internal rhyme, such as "wipe up all the pipelines," which also employs consonance with all the repeated "p" sounds, and again uses internal rhyme in "sky" and "Rhine" with their "long i" sounds.

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