I would like to know the literary techniques and their effect in the poem "To the Moon" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Thanks

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Percy Bysshe Sheley's poem "To the Moon" contains many different literary techniques (also known as poetic or rhetorical devices).

ART thou pale for weariness  
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,     
    Wandering companionless     
  Among the stars that have a different birth,—     
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye            
That finds no object worth its constancy?

First, Shelley uses multiple enjambments. An enjambment is where a poetic line continues onto the following line excluding the use of punctuation. For example, one can see an enjambment in lines one and two where "weariness" leads into "of" and lacks punctuation.

Second, Shelley uses personification. Personification is the giving of human characteristics to non-human/non-living things. For example, in line two, heaven is able to climb and gaze on the earth. Also, stars are birthed.

Third, Shelley uses a simile. A simile is a comparison between two typically un-similar things using "like" or "as." While "as" is found in line five, one must look to line four for the comparison--a star to a "joyless eye."

One final literary technique used in the poem is that of sound. Shelley most likely chose the words of the poem very carefully for how each sounds with the other. The repetition of the "s" sound gives the poem a lullaby quality (understandable given the title).