What poetic devices are used in "Richard Cory?" 

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


And he was always quietly arrayed,

And he was always human when he talked;...
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
The repetition of the word "and" heightens our involvement with the character of Richard Cory. He is the center of the poem and the use of anaphora focuses our attention upon him and his characteristics. This is especially important as it lulls us into a false sense of security which makes the twist ending all the more effective.
We people on the pavement...
Alliteration draws attention to itself, so is a useful device for emphasizing a specific point. Here, the author contrasts the mere mortals of the town with this polite, dashing gentleman. And again:
So on we worked, and waited for the light...
Once more, alliteration is being used to emphasize the difference between Richard Cory and the common townsfolk, a difference that will be summarily obliterated in the final stanza. Everything is leading up to a surprise ending.
But still he fluttered pulses...
In case we didn't already know, Richard Cory is a most singular individual. The use of the 'u' sound is important here. It gives the impression almost of a swoon, which is particularly appropriate as the ordinary folk of the town clearly regard him as a breed apart.
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
Same literary device; same purpose; different vowel sound. The 'i' sound has a certain degree of insistence about it. Richard Cory's wealth is an important element in what sets him apart and the repetition of the 'i' vowel concentrates our attention upon his enormous wealth.
rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poetic devices used in "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson include sound devices, repetition devices, rhyme, and rhythm.

The sound devices that stand out are alliteration and consonance. Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds. The predominant initial consonant throughout the poem is /w/. Phrases with words in close proximity that start with /w/ are "whenever Richard Cory went down town" and "still we worked and waited for the light." The repetition of the /w/ sound can evoke the feeling of questioning (what? or why?) or a wail of sorrow or complaint. Another use of alliteration is "we people on the pavement," which repeats the /p/ sound. Consonance, repetition of internal or end consonant sounds, occurs in the words "fluttered" and "glittered." These are light sounding words, adding a sense of grace and ease to the description of Richard Cory.

Anaphora is the technique of repeating the same words at the beginning of successive clauses. We see this used in lines 5 and 6: "And he was always." Other lines also start with "and he" or simply "and." This technique binds the poem together and also gives the feeling that it is being narrated by someone close to the situation speaking in his own words. It also creates a monotony that makes the abrupt ending more surprising.

The poem has a formal rhyme scheme and rhythm. It is written in consistent iambic pentameter, meaning each line consists of ten syllables of alternating unaccented and accented stresses. The effect of this is to make the poem very steady and predictable, making the surprise ending come as more of a shock because the reader has been lulled by the very consistent and regular rhythm. Nothing in the words or their sounds has suggested  that something sudden or violent is going to occur, so the steadiness of the rhythm and meter, along with the regular abab rhyme scheme, forms a  stark, ironic contrast to the surprising ending. 

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