Imagery In Poetry: Ways To Imagine That!

imagery in poetryWhen we pick up a book, novel, or poem, we often expect to be transported into another realm, setting, or field of imagination.  All these and more are what we hope to achieve through reading – but how are we going to get there?  Who is going to help lead the way?  That is the author’s responsibility and craft.  The same goes for poetry.  We do not pick up a poem with the desire to feeling like we are still sitting in class, on a sofa, or in a corner of the library.  Instead, we want to be transported to that very tree that the Raven was sitting on in Poe’s, “The Raven”, or the particular road that was not taken in Robert Frost’s, “The Road Not Taken”.  We want to be there, feel the feelings, and taste the effort.  The role of a poet is not an easy one, as there are various different poetic techniques that you need your poem to encompass.  We are going to give you a little lift to help transport your readers into your poem through proper imagery.  Don’t worry; you won’t need a time machine for this one.

Importance of Imagery

  • Inspires and evokes feelings
  • Conveys a messages or purposes to an audience
  • Creates a Mood
  • Connects thoughts of a reader or characters
  • To allow the poet to reach the reader through their senses

Seven Poetic Senses

As a writer, it might seem daunting to think about how you will begin using imagery in your poem.  Luckily, there are seven different types of poetic imagery that can be used to help you along.  Let’s take a look at them:

  1. Sight Imagery
  2. Sound Imagery
  3. Touch Imagery
  4. Smell Imagery
  5. Taste Imagery
  6. Physical Imagery
  7. Movement Imagery

Just by looking at these seven types of imagery, you can determine that poetic imagery is a lot about the senses.  To achieve a connection and understanding with your readers, you are going to have to dive into your reader’s subconscious and cater to each of their senses.  How?  Read on!

  1. Visual (Sight) Imagery:  Visual imagery is used by describing a scene to your readers so that they can use your description to create a picture in their own minds.  This can be done by describing colors, sounds, and structures using adjectives or verbs.
  2. Auditory (Sound) Imagery:  The goal of auditory imagery is for the reader to be able to “hear” the sounds in the setting and atmosphere that the poet is portraying.
  3. Tactile (Touch) Imagery:  Tactile imagery gives the reader a sense of what things within the poem feel like.  The poet’s goal is to portray this through colors, textures, or dampness.
  4. Olfactory (Smell) Imagery:  Who knows if the poet is going to develop in a scene that requires eating or smelling?  This is where olfactory imagery can come in handy, by using detail to depict a certain smell to the reader.  You might think this would be hard without a “scratch-and-sniff” option, but it is very achievable!
  5. Gustatory (Taste) Imagery:  Gustatory imagery can take place right after olfactory imagery.  Smell before you taste, right?  The poet’s aim with gustatory imagery is the describe how something tastes to his audience.  This can provoke a mouth-watering reaction, or stimulate a few stomach-clenching faces.
  6. Organic (Physical) Imagery:  Organic imagery is used to describe a physical feeling of the a character.  This could be an ache, a pain, a feeling of pleasure, or thirst.  Whatever a character feels, the poet’s goal is to make his reader’s aware of it.
  7. Kinesthetic (Movement) Imagery:  This details how a certain object, person, animal, or plant moves within the poem.  This helps develop a poem’s setting and character personalities.  It can show whether or not a character is swift and quick or slow and fragile.

Other Ways Imagery Works

Imagery can also work through the use of poetry techniques, such as:

  • Symbols:  Symbolism in poetry works to give meaning and qualities to an action.  For instance, if one character hugs another, this can symbolize love, friendship, or family.
  • Metaphors and Similes:  These two function to create comparisons between two or more things.
  • Personification:  Gives imagery to a scene or setting by giving life to things that would not otherwise have it.  For example, “The rain banged down angrily on the family’s rooftop.”
  • Detailed Descriptions:  Any type of description will give rise to imagery.  Imagery is built on descriptive detail that gives rise to the senses of readers and writers of poetry.

A Few Last Tips

Now that you have an overview of all the different styles and techniques that you can use to incorporate imagery into your poetry, we are going to give you a few tips on how to make your poetry writing run smoothly.

  • Write everyday:  Write creativity every day.  Make sure that you do not let your creative guard down, and this will keep consistent imagery descriptive examples flowing in your mind.
  • Be Yourself:  We know there are plenty of other writers out there that you can pull from, but the goal in any kind of writing is to find your own voice.  And, once you do, everything will seem to fall into place.
  • Proofread Aloud:  This might seem weird, but read your work aloud to yourself after you are done writing.  It is surprising how different things sound verbally than on paper.
  • Experiment:  There are so many styles of poetry, so get out there and learn through trial and error.  Not every style or technique of poetry is going to suit you.
  • Think:  Let your ideas float around for awhile.  The more you let things sit, the more you will be able to elaborate on your ideas and thoughts once you start writing.

Imagine This

Imagery does much more than simply helping readers get into the feel of a poem; it is also there to show the personality of the poet to his audience – imagine that!  And for anymore assistance, check out Udemy’s helping online courses for some quick and professional help for any of your writing needs.