Imagery in Poetry

Imagery in Poetry: a Closer Look & Examples

Imagery has been a major part of poetry since inception. Poetic imagery, in brief, is about conveying easily comprehensible concepts that can access the imaginations and senses of readers. Poets describe miscellaneous inanimate objects in their surroundings and living and breathing humans with equal clarity and intensity. Imagery is a literary device that essentially gives poets the power to create their own highly descriptive and evocative universes. Imagery enables readers to picture things intensely and simultaneously allows them to imagine:

  1. The scents of exotic flowers;
  2. The intense emotions that run the gamut;
  3. Sounds; and
  4. Striking and memorable sights.

It doesn’t matter if you read the works of a poet online, in a book or anywhere else under the sun. Odds are high you’ll come across poetic imagery that makes you envision concepts, surroundings, backdrops and much more. If you read this poetry blog, you’ll be able to get lost in a vast, unforgettable world of imagery. Some of the most compelling poems also happen to be the most descriptive ones.

Imagery in Poetry: Examples

Imagery in poetry extends from the titles we may have never heard about to some of our most favorite poems of all time.

At Black River, for example, is a poem by Mary Oliver, a widely known poet from the United States. The title of the poem itself brings a lot to the mind. If you think about a black river, you may immediately feel a sense of dimness and desolation. The artist described a mysterious creature that seemingly resided in a river. She mentions the being’s teeth, its mossy locale, and the abundance of leaves nearby.

What makes these descriptions so indispensable to readers? Poetic imagery gives readers the ability to genuinely connect with the words that are right in front of them. If a reader is unable to imagine anything, then she may feel rather detached from a poem. It may not come to life for her at all.

“Song of the Open Road” (1856)

Poetry is a powerful art form for a plenitude of reasons. Since it frequently relies heavily on the power of imagery, it allows readers to dream. Song of the Open Road is a renowned poem that was written by Walt Whitman back in 1856. It’s a piece that went into the ins and outs of traveling within the vast and expansive United States. If a reader has an intense feeling of wanderlust, reading this poem may make him feel as though he’s actually in another place. Song of the Open Road is an example of a poem that, thanks to masterful imagery, allows readers to basically travel without even leaving their cozy rooms.

“I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud” (1807)

I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud is yet another example of a poem that utilizes the undeniable strength of imagery. It’s a lyric poem specifically. It was penned by William Wordsworth back in 1807. What encouraged the writer to create this piece? Wordsworth spent a bit of time in a forest alongside his sister in the spring of 1802. The wide-eyed pair came across a number of daffodils. The image of the flowers was so intense that it actually motivated him to commit his emotions to paper.

The poet described the daffodils with success. Wordsworth indicated that they were “golden.” This immediately helps readers picture brightness. The poet delved into everything from glimmering stars to flashing waves. These descriptions don’t just make readers think about the sheer marvels of nature. They also make readers think about emotions that are rather positive. I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud is a poem that showcases the emotions of glee that are associated with nature and its splendor.

“The Tyger” (1794)

“The Tyger,” last but not least, is a William Blake poem that is teeming with imagery. People who read this poem may think at length about the enigma of nighttime forests. They may think at length about powerful and bold creatures that lurk in the darkness while the rest of the world is fast asleep, too. It’s a poem that can fill readers with equal parts awe and apprehension. The impact it produces is still remarkable today, and we can only guess how much more powerful this poem had to resonate in its readers imagination at the time of first publication.