What are some literary devices in "Water Lilies" by Sara Teasdale?

Expert Answers
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One technique that is evidenced throughout the poem is that of imagery.  Imagery is when you use the five senses (taste, touch, sight, sound and smell) to describe something, which helps the reader to feel like they are right there, experiencing the same thing that the author is describing.  Take a look at some phrases that use imagery:  "a dark lake," "afternoon shade," "wet, sleepy fragrance," and "shadow of mountains."  All of these descriptions help the reader to feel like they are right there in the mountains, experiencing them first-hand.

Another literary technique that Teasdale uses is symbolism.  She uses nature as a symbol of tranquilty, peace, and inner wisdom and beauty.  She says that if the beauty of nature has moved you, and you can't forget the beautiful feeling that you had there, then you are ruined forever in the shallow, dirty, noisy world that we live in.  To encounter the profound beauty and silence of nature and have it move you to your core means that everything after that can never mean as much.  She says that if you can't forget that feeling (which she symbolizes in describing the beauty of the lilies), then you can't live anywhere else.  But if you can forget the beauty involved, then you can "return, and not be afraid."  So, the lilies themselves symbolize the beauty and tranquility that you can experience in nature, and how it can move you.

Those are just a couple techniques; I hope that those thoughts help to get you started.  Good luck!