What literary devices are found in " It Was a Dream" by Lucille Clifton?

Expert Answers
Stephanie Gregg eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most prominent literary devices used in this poem are repetition and parallelism.  The three lines beginning with "and" all use a parallel verb structure:  "twisted," "sparked," and "screamed."  The effect of this vivid imagery is chilling.  Clifton's alter-ego, her "greater self," is dissatisfied with "what [her] days had come to."  Much like Dickens's restless spirits of past, present, and future, Clifton's dream-self comes to warn her of all the things she could have, and perhaps should have, done with the repetition of the haunting word "This" three times in the final line.  This word gets special recognition as the only word capitalized in the poem.  Even the pronoun "I" is not capitalized, further emphasizing this final word.  "This" is symbolic of so many opportunities that pass by in one's lifetime that, upon reflection, might have made all the difference.   As a successful black female poet in a time of racism and sexism in America, her regretful tone might be viewed as surprising and possibly even ironic.