What is Allegory? – Literary Terms 101

Allegory: “An extended metaphor in which the characters, places, and objects in a narrative carry figurative meaning. Often an allegory’s meaning is religious, moral, or historical in nature,” – Poetry Foundation


Gwendolyn Brooks on Allegory

To expand on the use of allegory in literature, I want utilize the poem “Boy Breaking Glass” by Gwendolyn Brooks. The poem has been interpreted as an artistic outcry towards social injustice with commanding imagery throughout. The poem was dedicated to Marc Crawford, a writer she knew who had the poem published in his magazines Tone and as a reprint in the magazine Time Capsule (Kent, 2014). Read the poem below and take in the figurative meaning for yourself.

To Marc Crawford
from whom the commission

Whose broken window is a cry of art   
(success, that winks aware
as elegance, as a treasonable faith)
is raw: is sonic: is old-eyed première.
Our beautiful flaw and terrible ornament.   
Our barbarous and metal little man.

“I shall create! If not a note, a hole.   
If not an overture, a desecration.”

Full of pepper and light
and Salt and night and cargoes.

“Don’t go down the plank
if you see there’s no extension.   
Each to his grief, each to
his loneliness and fidgety revenge.
Nobody knew where I was and now I am no longer there.”

The only sanity is a cup of tea.   
The music is in minors.

Each one other
is having different weather.

“It was you, it was you who threw away my name!   
And this is everything I have for me.”

Who has not Congress, lobster, love, luau,   
the Regency Room, the Statue of Liberty,   
runs. A sloppy amalgamation.
A mistake.
A cliff.
A hymn, a snare, and an exceeding sun.

Poem found on poetryfoundation.org

Quote source: A Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by George Kent – 2014


My Poetry

Elemental Magic – Fire

Prose of The Magician

Prose of The Fool

Elemental Magic – Earth

Peril

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