Which literary devices are used in the poem 'The Tables Turned'?

Quick answer:

Literary devices used in "The Tables Turned" include apostrophe, allusion, imagery, personification, punning, antithesis, and a regular abab rhyme scheme.

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The first line introduces the literary device of apostrophe, or addressing an absent person or object. In this case, the poem is a one-sided conversation with a friend in which the speaker urges him to stop studying his books and learn, instead, what nature has to teach him.

Wordsworth employs allusion, or a reference to another work of literature, when he speaks of his friend's books as "toil and trouble." These are words the witches use in act 1 of Macbeth, which adds a sinister overtone to the friend's studies.

The poem also uses imagery, which is description using any of the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. For example, Wordsworth employs visual imagery as he describes the setting sun, which

through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.
We can imagine in our mind's eye the slanting rays of the sinking evening sun spreading across the green fields.
Wordsworth also personifies the sun in this passage, referring to it as "him" as if the sun were a man. He goes on to use personification to describe the "throstle," a type of bird, as a "preacher" and nature as a "she" or woman who is wealthy, wise, and cheerful. This personification makes nature seem friendlier and more appealing.
Wordsworth uses punning and antithesis when he tells his friend to "close up those barren leaves." Leaves are both the pages of a book and leaves on a tree. Wordsworth is saying that the leaves of his friend's book are "barren" in contrast (or antithesis) to what he can learn by looking at nature's leaves.

Wordsworth uses the literary devices of a regular abab rhyme scheme and iambic tetrameter, the singsong beat of nursery rhymes: ta Dum, ta Dum, ta Dum, ta Dum, with the stress or emphasis on the second beat, as in the first line:

Up! Up! my Friend and quit your books.

Together, the rhyme scheme and lines using iambic tetrameter create a pleasing, predictable rhythm that soothes the reader as nature might.

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