What are the literary techniques and their effects in the poem "The Moon" by Percy Bysshe Shelley?

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Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “To the Moon” contains several different literary techniques and devices.

Art thou pale for weariness

Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

Among the stars that have a different birth,—

And ever-changing, like a joyless eye

That finds no object worth...

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Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “To the Moon” contains several different literary techniques and devices.

Art thou pale for weariness

Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

Among the stars that have a different birth,—

And ever-changing, like a joyless eye

That finds no object worth its constancy?

First, Shelley uses enjambment. Enjambment is where a sentence or phrase in one line continues onto the following line without punctuation. For example, one can see enjambment in lines one and two where “weariness” leads fluidly into “Of.”

Second, Shelley uses personification. Personification is the figurative assignment of human characteristics to non-human or non-living things. For example, in line two, the moon, the addressee of the poem, is described as “climbing heaven and gazing on the earth." In another instance of personification, stars are characterized as being birthed.

Third, Shelley uses simile. A simile is a comparison between two different kinds of things using “like” or “as.” An example of simile can be found in the fifth line, in which Shelley likens the moon to a “joyless eye.”

Two final literary techniques used in the poem are rhyme and meter. Shelley uses an ABABCC rhyme structure for the poem’s six lines. Metrically, the first four lines alternate between iambic tetrameter and iambic pentameter, and the final two lines are in pentameter. These prosodic qualities give the poem a sonorous and rhythmic character.

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