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What is Imagery?

Imagery is the name given to the elements in a poem that spark of


the senses. Despite "image" being a synonym for "picture", images
need not be only visual; any of the five senses (sight, hearing, touch,
taste, smell) can respond to what a poet writes. Examples of non-visual
imagery can be found in Ken Smith's 'In Praise of Vodka', where he
describes the drink as having "the taste of air, of wind on fields, / the
wind through the long wet forest", and James Berry's 'Seashell', which
puts the "ocean sighs" right in a listener's ear.
A poet could simply state, say, "I see a tree", but it is possible to
conjure up much more specific images using techniques such as simile
("a tree like a spiky rocket"), metaphor ("a green cloud riding a pole")
or synechdoche ("bare, black branches") - each of these suggests a
diferent kind of tree. Techniques, such as these, that can be used to
create powerful images are called figurative language, and can also
include onomatopoeia, metonymy and personification.
One of the great pleasures of poetry is discovering a particularly
powerful image; the Imagists of the early 20th century felt it was the
most important aspect, so were devoted to finding strong images and
presenting them in the clearest language possible. Of course, not
every poem is an Imagist poem, but making images is something that
nearly every poem in the Archive does.
An interesting contrast in imagery can be found by comparing Alison
Croggon's 'The Elwood Organic Fruit and Vegetable Shop' with Allen
Ginsberg's 'A Supermarket in California'; although both poets seem to
like the shops they write about, Ginsberg's shop is full of hard, bright
things, corralled into aisles, featuring neon, tins and freezers, while the
organic shop is full of images of soft, natural things rubbing against
one another in sunlight. Without it being said explicitly, the imagery
makes it clear that the supermarket is big, boxy, and tidy, unlike the
cosy Elwood's. This is partly done with the visual images that are
drawn, and in part with Croggon's images that mix the senses (this is
called synaesthesia), such as the strawberries with their "klaxons of
sweetness" or the gardens with "well-groomed scents", having the way
the imagery is made correspond with what the imagery shows.

Imagery in Mending Wall


Wall
The wall is the shining star of this poem. It unites our speaker and his
neighbor, but separates them as well. As we hear the neighbor speak
the proverb twice ("Good fences make good neighbors"), we start to
consider all of the wall-like structures in our life: fences, gates,
boundaries, lines, etc. The wall serves as a canvas upon which a lot of
complex ideas about the ways in which people, and their relationships
with others, are painted and discussed.

NATURE AND TRADITION


Nature seems to act as the third wheel in this poem the silent
character swirling around the speaker and his neighbor. Although he
doesnt explicitly describe the landscape, we see it very clearly, and
we seem to know what the seasons are like in this part of the world.
Similarly, tradition seems to be the silent subject over which the
speaker and his neighbor wrestle. The neighbor upholds his ancestors
way of life, while our speaker questions this philosophy.

Imagery in After Apple-Picking

BIBLICAL IMAGERY

The Bible is never explicitly mentioned in this poem, but Frost


nonetheless includes several references to well-known stories from the
Book of Genesis. These are not specific allusions so much as
commonplace ideas that help structure the poem. The story of Jacob's
Ladder and the Fall of Adam and Eve both seem to be on the speaker's
mind.
SLEEP AND DREAMS
Is the speaker already asleep at the beginning of the poem? How does
he know what he's going to dream if he hasn't started dreaming yet?
What time is it? Dreams are fuzzy creatures, and the poem captures
the vague and disorderly progress of the speaker's thoughts from one
subject to another. Images of falling and dropping things are especially
notable. The most direct explanation for these images is that

the speaker has been worried about not dropping apples all
day.
THE HARVEST

The poem takes place at the end of the harvest, with the last
fruit hanging on the tree and winter coming on. The
harvest symbolizes growth and creativity, but this burst of
life has ended and now both the earth and its many of its
creatures are preparing to enter a period of hibernation.
Imagery In DADDY
NAZIS AND THE HOLOCAUST

The speaker indicates that her German father is like a Nazi,


and that she is like a Jew. This is a very powerful metaphor
for how the speaker feels like she is a victim of her father, or
perhaps for how she feels about men in general. But she
doesn't come right out and call him a Nazi. Instead, she uses
metaphors, imagery, and subtle wordplay to show us that
he's like a Nazi.

VAMPIRES
At the end of this poem, the metaphor for the speaker's
father and husband, and potentially all men, shifts from
Nazis to vampires. These men go from being depicted as
living horrors to undead horrors. We know that the speaker's
father is dead, so it's super creepy to think that he's come
back to haunt her as a vampire.
SIZE
The speaker in this poem describes herself as small, and her
father as immense. But for the most part she doesn't just
come out and say so: she shows us with imagery and
metaphors. This adds to the feel that the speaker is the
victim in this poem, and makes her father seem more
looming and scary.
Imagery in TULIPS
TULIPS
On one hand, the red tulips are just a great visual image. Red tulips in
a white room make for a super-clear and vivid picture. On the other
hand, we think they also have to be seen as a symbol, a representation
of the love and concern that other people feel for this sick woman. So
maybe it's not the tulips themselves that are so problematic for our
troubled speaker; maybe it's what they represent that's the issue.
WHITENESS

In this poem, this color white connects with peace and calm
and purity and emptiness. It's the color of freedom, of
numbness. Its opposite is red, the color of pain and
attachment and, of course, and those terrible tulips. Once we
start looking for the word "white.
WATER

Water is a Big Deal in "Tulips." To be fair, there are all kinds of powerful
natural forces running through this poem (light, air, etc.), but water
seems to pop up more than all the others, and it makes for some of the
strongest images in the poem.
BAGGAGE
This one comes up pretty briefly, but it's a major moment in the poem
nonetheless. Baggage means a couple of things here: both the stuf
she carried to the hospital and the kind of things you can't touch. You
know how sometimes people talk about emotional issues as
"baggage," as in "I can't deal with all her baggage?" Same thing here.
The speaker wants to get rid of all her attachments to the world the
emotional connections that tie her down and she uses the metaphor
of "baggage" to talk about that feeling.

Imagery in The Man with the Blue Guitar


The guitar
The guitar serves as an instrument for the musician to relate
themes. Things as they are/Are changed upon the blue guitar, this
line in first section of the poem conceptualizes the guitar as an
instrument of perception. The guitar does not express reality, but
instead creates or decreates a new reality as a perception. In Adagia,
Stevens describes the relation of reality and imagination.

Picasso
In this picture of Picassos, this hoard/Of destructions, a picture of
ourselves. Stevens comments on Picassos quote in The Necessary
Angel, Does not the saying of Picasso that a picture is a horde of
destructions also say that a poem is a horde of destructions?(741).
Clearly, the opening line of section fifteen compares Picassos
sentiments on painting to Stevenss own poetry. Here is one place
where the other becomes clear in the poem.

A dream
A dream (to call it a dream) in which/I can believe, in face of he
object,/A dream no longer a dream, a thing,/Of things as they are, as
the blue guitar. The dream is now a thing just as the guitar is a

thing. Both are instruments in presenting reality, and again the idea
that neither is actual reality is present. This section also relates back
to the guitar and the senses, After long strumming on certain
nights/Gives the touch of the senses, not of the hand. Here the hand
and the guitar give way to the formation of senses realized after long
strumming. His poetry too, must serve as the realization of the
senses; his language and style being only a part of the larger dream of
senses.