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Symbolism and Poetry

Updated on April 12, 2011


Using a word to describe something or someone is the usual way we tell about it.  It is fairly simple to tell a story using the usual language and words that people are used to hearing to do so.  When talking about a house, the describing words can be colors, the height, the age, and so forth. 

When describing a situation, the same rules apply.  A very different way of describing a situation or even an object is by the use of symbolism.  Allowing a completely different object that you use while comparing the two gives the reader a very different and perhaps a closer definition by which you tell what you mean or what you are feeling.   Symbolism is a very common tool in literature, and poetry.  When you use an earthquake to describe the way a fight left you feeling, for example.  You might use the words shook up, devastated, or destroyed when talking about the episode.  These same words could also describe how a fist fight left you feeling.

Further, and perhaps closer to what I mean, the whole earthquake experience could be used and actually be put in place of a fight fight experience to describe how you felt and how it ended, leaving the readers with a totally different and maybe a glimpse of how extreme the experience felt to you. 

The following poem is an example of how I used such symbolism.  I used the tempest of a storm, the rain and how hard it hit, and so forth to describe to you the experience I had when having an emotional and mental breakdown.  You will be able to see the way I used one to describe the other, and how it was very helpful to the reader to maybe see inward and how it made me feel.

Using one thing to talk about another is perhaps a complex way to tell a story, and it takes time to pull the whole thing together so that it not only makes sense to the reader, but tells the story in a way that is actually able  to tell that story.  It is not easy to be sure that the reader understands what it is that you want him or her to pick up from what you have told. 

I feel that this example does this but lets see what you think.   All comments are welcome and encouraged.

The Storm

Lightening and thunder, hail turned to rain;

Day turned to darkness, my mind goes insane;

All thoughts of goodness have been put to rest,

Evil darkness clouds my mind with thoughts that aren't the best.

As the storm his suddenly with a thundering blast,

My head explodes with black pictures of my past.

Bolt after bolt through the sky cuts the air,

Deathly thoughts of madness behind eyes that just stare.

As the thunder and lightening storm rages on through the night,

My face shows no terror, just a little of the fright.

As the storm settles into a hard rain starts to fall,

The storm in my head has me locked behind solid walls.

There's no way out I'm trapped by the storm in my head,

Only the falling rain escapes, roll down my cheeks, hit the bed.


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  • Paradise7 profile image

    Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

    Interesting read, thank you.