In her poem “For My Mother,” the literary devices that Lorna Goodison employs include personification, imagery, simile, alliteration, consonance, and metaphor.
Personification is the attribution of human qualities to animals, objects, or abstract concepts. In stanza 2, the speaker states that her father was her mother’s “fate disguised.”
Imagery is the use of words to evoke a picture, emotion, or mood. It may use only one sense or multiple senses. The third stanza uses visual imagery in the speaker’s description of the young man who became her father. In presenting his clothes, the speaker names multiple garments and often states their colors: “maroon blazer, / cream serge pants.” Imagery is also prominent in stanza 10 in the description of the bride’s elaborate wedding outfit.
This description also uses a simile, a comparison for effect of unlike things using “like” or “as”: “seam like razor.”
Stanzas 4 and 5 make extensive use of alliteration, the repetition of initial consonant sounds. Stanza 4, line 2 features alliteration using S: “stopped to speak to her sister.” Stanza 5, lines 2 and 3 have alliteration with W:
He wooed her with words and he won her.
He had nothing but words to woo her.
These lines also use consonance, the repetition of consonant sounds not in the initial position. The R sound is repeated in “her” and “words,” while N appears in “won” and “nothing,” and D repeats in “wooed” and “words.”
Stanza 5 also uses a metaphor, a direct comparison of unlike things for effect. The speaker refers to the grandmother’s area of influence as her “kingdom.”