Robert Louis Stevenson Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

In "The Vagabond" by Robert Louis Stevenson, find the metaphors and similes and explain them.

Expert Answers info

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write5,917 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

In "The Vagabond" by Robert Louis Stevenson there are a number of tropes, which are figures of speech that include metaphors and similes, but there are few metaphor or simile tropes. There are however unusual vocabulary words from a Scots dialect, like lave and blow, that might possibly be mistaken for metaphors if the definitions are unknown: Lave is defined as a flowing water as in a river, and blow is defined as a storm or a strong blast.

There are several instances of personification ("Give the face of earth") and a few metonymies (e.g., "blue finger" for frostbite), but there is only one simile and only one metaphor. A simile makes a comparison between two unlike things and uses the words as, like, such as or though to draw the comparison: e.g., love though thorns is sweet; candies such as god's ambrosia; clouds like trumpets; soft as goose's down. A metaphor likewise makes a comparison between two unlike things but omits any connecting word thus indicating only that one thing is another: e.g., light is bliss; dance is life; love is roses.

The one simile in "The Vagabond" is in "White as meal the frosty field." Here, white meal, or white flour, is compared to a field that is covered in frost: To the poetic speaker and the poet, the field covered in frost looks like it is sprinkled with white flour over it.
The one metaphor is in the next verse (i.e., line), "Warm the fireside haven." Here, the fireside is compared to a haven, which is a resting place, a sanctuary or a safe harbor.

Bear in mind the context of these tropes indicates that even though autumn may bring the bite of "blue fingers" with fields covered in frost, and even though the fireside is a warm sanctuary, the speaker will not yield to autumn nor even to winter ("Not to autumn will I yield, / Not to winter even!"); he will instead live with "the heaven above / And the road below me."

check Approved by eNotes Editorial