I had not thought of violets late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.
The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,
And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;
And garish lights, and mincing little fops
And cabarets and soaps, and deadening wines.
So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed,
I had forgot wide fields; and clear brown streams;
The perfect loveliness that God has made,—
Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.
And now—unwittingly, you’ve made me dream
Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten gleam.

© Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson – Source: Poetry Foundation

Alone in the library room, even when others
Are there in the room, alone, except for themselves:
There is the illusion of peace; the air in the room
Is stilled; there are reading lights on the tables,
Looking as if they’re reading, looking as if
They’re studying the text, and understanding,

Shedding light on what the words are saying;
But under their steady imbecile gaze the page
Is blank, patiently waiting not to be blank.

The page is blank until the mind that reads
Crosses the black river, seeking the Queen
Of the Underworld, Persephone, where she sits

By the side of the one who brought her there from Enna,
Hades the mute, the deaf, king of the dead letter;
She is clothed in the beautiful garment of our thousand

Misunderstandings of the sacred text.

© David Ferry – Source: Poem Hunter

Someone standing at the mouth had
the idea to enter. To go further

than light or language could
go. As they followed
the idea, light and language followed

like two wolves—panting, hearing themselves
panting. A shapeless scent
in the damp air …

Keep going, the idea said.

Someone kept going. Deeper and deeper, they saw
others had been there. Others had left

objects that couldn’t have found their way
there alone. Ocher-stained shells. Bird bones. Grounded
hematite. On the walls,

as if stepping into history, someone saw
their purpose: cows. Bulls. Bison. Deer. Horses—
some pregnant, some slaughtered.

The wild-
life seemed wild and alive, moving

when someone moved, casting their shadows
on the shadows stretching
in every direction. Keep going,

the idea said again. Go …

Someone continued. They followed the idea so far inside that
outside was another idea.

© Paul Tran – Source: Poetry Foundation

metonymy

metonymy: “A figure of speech that substitutes the name of a related object, person, or idea for the subject at hand. Crown is often substituted for monarchy…should not be confused with synecdoche, a substitution of a part of something for the whole or the whole for a part.” – NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms (1991)

This literary device is often used in poetry as a kind of metaphor that can provide context for the poem’s topic and the poet’s subjective view of the topic, yet reverberate as something more universal. In Mary Kinzie’s A Poet’s Guide to Poetry, she asserts that, “no matter what ideas fed the works, mental and emotional content must depend on objective counters and local embodiments to some degree. Without material embodiment, no spirit can come through the pattern.” Metonymy satisfies those conditions so frequently that many of us poets do it automatically or subconsciously if you want to go that far. For example, I used “flesh” to represent sin or shame in Blind With My Flesh – Judicium as a reference to how flesh is perceived in Abrahamic beliefs.

To my fellow poets and writers, have you looked back at your own work and noticed you do this too?

More Literary Terms

What is a moral criticism?

What is gothic?

What is allegory?

photo of woman carrying a cardboard

No Justice, No Peace – [News/Website Update]

The page that was once “Stand Up – BLM/LGBTQ+” is now No Justice, No Peace, which provides resources, volunteer/donation opportunities, and more regarding the institutional and system prejudices being perpetuated in the USA. The page has been updated to include the Stop Asian Hate movement. I will soon be adding sources regarding how you can […]