Edgar A. Guest

Start Free Trial

What are some examples of figurative language in the poem See It Through by Edgar Albert Guest?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Edgar Guest's poem "See It Through," trouble is personified as someone the reader of the poem is fighting against. The poet exhorts the reader to meet troubles squarely in the face in order to try to conquer them.

In the second stanza, the poet uses the metaphor of "black clouds" to stand for trouble, and the reader's "nerve" is personified as something that can desert him or her, as if nerves were a person that can flee.  The poet concludes each stanza, using repetition, with the phrase, "See it through!"

In the third stanza, the poet personifies troubles again and tells the reader that he or she can face these problems as people have in the past. In the third stanza, the poet uses alliteration in the line, "You may fail, but fall still fighting," as many of these words begin with "f." Alliteration lends the line a musical quality.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The poem "See It Through" by Edgar Albert Guest is replete with figurative language, beginning with the obvious example of personification beginning in the first two lines of the poem. 

When you're up against a trouble,

Meet it squarely, face to face.... 

Personification, of course, is giving human qualities or characteristics to something that is non-human or non-living. A "trouble" is not human, yet the speaker gives is a face and wants us to meet it rather than to avoid or delay the trouble. Later he suggests that we could "try to dodge it," but that is not likely to work very well.

Another example of personification is found in this line:

But don't let your nerve desert you....

Obviously the idea is that we are to remain strong, but this is figurative language because one's "nerve" (courage) cannot literally leave.

Later the speaker suggests that, in difficult times, we may be surrounded by black clouds, a metaphor for whatever trouble we might be experiencing. The strongest metaphor in the poem is spoken in several ways throughout the selection:

Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace....

Keep yourself in fighting trim....

You may fail, but fall still fighting....

Eyes front, head high to the finish....

When we have problems in our lives, it is not necessary--or usually even possible--to literally confront it; however, this speaker suggests we should make our body language match our resolve. These metaphorical commands might be given to a soldier or a fighter preparing to face an enemy.

One last poetic device is the use of figurative repetition: 

See it through! 

It is figurative, of course, because "seeing" here is not something literal. Winning in the face of adversity is not about literally seeing but about literally standing steadfast, which is exactly what this figurative expression says. He says it several times for emphasis. 

This is not a particularly complex or complicated poem; however, like most poems, it does contain figurative language which serves to draw us a picture of the speaker's intent rather than a more straightforward prescription for trouble.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team