abstract illustration of many different faces and settings that reflect the diversity of speakers in the Spoon River Anthology

Spoon River Anthology

by Edgar Lee Masters

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What are some examples of metaphors and similes from Spoon River Anthology?

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The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters contains 250 poems and almost every one contains metaphors and similes of some sort. Below are three examples.

In the poem "Fletcher McGee," Fletcher uses the metaphor of a sculptor manipulating clay into his own creation to show how he turned his lover into somebody she hated.

She was a hunk of sculptor's clay,
My secret thoughts were fingers:
They flew behind her pensive brow
And lined it deep with pain.

In the poem "Robert Fulton Tanner," Robert compares life to an ogre with a giant hand that "catches and destroys him." Unlike the rat that bit his own hand, he says he had no way of fighting back.

If a man could bite the giant hand
That catches and destroys him,
As I was bitten by a rat
While demonstrating my patent trap
In a man can never avenge himself
On the monstrous ogre Life.

In the poem "Serepta Mason," Serepta uses the metaphor of a wind blowing away the petals of a flower to help her explain why she could never show the village her best side.

My life's blossom might have bloomed on all sides
Save for a bitter wind which stunted my petals.
On the side of me which you in the village could see.

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You're asking about a collection of almost 250 poems, so I can only give you a smattering of examples of metaphors--comparisons that do not use the word "like" or "as."

Poem 3: Ollie McGee

But what think you gnaws at my husband's heart?

The husband's guilt is compared to a mouse or other small animal that gnaws at his dead heart.

Poem 4: Fletcher McGee

She was a hunk of sculptor's clay,
My secret thoughts were fingers:
They flew behind her pensive brow
And lined it deep with pain.

Fletcher McGee is saying that his wife's face was like a hunk of clay that his secret thoughts molded as if they were fingers.

Poem 5: Robert Fulton Tanner

But a man can never avenge himself
On the monstrous ogre Life.

Tanner is comparing Life's challenges to a monstrous ogre.

Poem 7: Serepta Mason

MY LIFE'S BLOSSOM might have bloomed on all sides
Save for a bitter wind which stunted my petals

Serepta compares success in life to a flower's blossom.

 

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