Poetic Devices of the poem Vanity

Poetic Devices of the poem Vanity

Rhetorical Question:

This runs throughout the poem. It expresses the poet’s worry and emphasises his seriousness over the subject matter of the poem. Examples: “Who then will hear our voices without laughter?” “Who then will hear us without laughter?” “What eyes will watch our large mouth?” “What heart will listen to our clamouring?” “What ear to our sobbing hearts?”.

 Sarcasm:

This is mocking humour. Examples: sad complaining voices of beggars; large mouth; plaintive throats 


This is seen throughout the poem. Example: What eyes will watch our large mouth? is repeated in the second stanza. 


This is direct comparison using the words “like” or “as”. Example: “What ear to our pitiful anger which grows in us like a tumor”.

 Synedoche:

A figure of speech that entails using a part to represent a whole or a whole for a part. Example: “What hearts will listen to our clamouring?”

 Personification:

This figure of speech involves the attribution of human nature or character to animals, inanimate objects, or abstract notions. In Vanity, the poet gives life to dead ancestors through the use of personification. Examples: “When our Dead comes with their Dead, when they have spoken to us in their clumsy voices”.

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