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

1 Answer | Add Yours

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,982 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question