Literary Devices in Poetry: 41 Definitions and Examples

If you are looking for a way to add more depth and nuance to your poetry, literary devices can be a great way to do that. But what are literary devices in poetry? And how do you use them? In this blog post, we will provide 31 definitions of literary devices and examples of each.

By understanding these devices and how they can be used, you will be able to produce poetry that is richer and more meaningful.

Literary Devices in Poetry: 41 Definitions and Examples

What Are Literary Devices?

There are many different literary devices that can be used in order to take writing beyond its literal meaning. Some of the most common literary devices include metaphors, similes, and symbols.

By using these devices, writers are able to create connections between things that might not otherwise be related. For example, a writer might use a metaphor to compare two unlike things in order to help the reader understand one in terms of the other.

In this way, literary devices can be used to encourage the reader to see the world in new and different ways.

Literary devices can be used in any genre, but they are most often seen in poetry and fiction.

Writers can use literary devices to:

  • Create a mood or atmosphere
  • Set the scene
  • Foreshadow events
  • Characterize people or objects
  • Provide structure

When used effectively, literary devices can add depth and dimension to a piece of writing, making it more enjoyable for the reader.

There are many different literary devices, and there is no definitive list. However, we have compiled a list of 32 literary devices that are commonly used in poetry.

Below is a glossary of literary devices; you can click them to jump to why a writer may use it and an example of it in context.

Literary devices commonly used in poetry:

  1. Conceit: A literary device in which an author describes a complicated concept using simple language.
  2. Apostrophe: A literary device in which a character speaks to an absent person or thing.
  3. Caesura: A literary device that is used to create a pause in a line of poetry.
  4. Metonymy/Synecdoche: literary devices that involve using a part of something to represent the whole.
  5. Oxymoron: An oxymoron is a literary device that combines two contradictory terms.
  6. Zeugma: A zeugma is a literary device that uses one verb or adjective to modify two nouns.
  7. Repetition: Repetition refers to repeating words or phrases.
  8. Consonance/Assonance: Repeating consonant or vowel sounds.
  9. Euphony/Cacophony: The former is pleasing to the ear while the latter is harsh.
  10. Meter: Meter is the rhythm of a poem, often created using stressed and unstressed syllables.
  11. Parallelism: the use of similar grammatical structures in close proximity.
  12. Rhyme: the repetition of sounds at the end of words.
  13. Foil: the use of two characters who are in contrast to each other.
  14. Diction: the choice of words used.
  15. Mood: the feeling or atmosphere that a piece of writing creates.
  16. Foreshadowing: the use of clues or hints to suggest what will happen later in the story.
  17. In Media Res: starting the story in the middle of the action.
  18. Suspense: creating a feeling of anticipation or unease.
  19. Dramatic irony: when the audience knows something that the characters do not.
  20. Vignette: a short, descriptive scene.
  21. Flashback: a scene that interrupts the present action to show events from the past.
  22. Soliloquy: a character talking to themselves.

    And the more common literary devices:
  23. Alliteration: the repetition of initial sounds in words that are close together
  24. Metaphor: a figure of speech that compares two things that are not alike.
  25. Simile: a figure of speech that compares two things using the words.
  26. Symbolism: the use of objects or actions to represent something else.
  27. Personification: Personification is a literary device that gives human characteristics to inanimate objects.
  28. Hyperbole: a literary device that uses exaggeration for effect.
  29. Irony: There are three types of irony: verbal, situational, and dramatic.
  30. Juxtaposition: the placement of two things side by side for effect.
  31. Paradox: A paradox is a literary device that contradicts itself but contains a truth.
  32. Allusion: Allusion is a literary device that references a person, place, thing, or event.
  33. Allegory: Allegory is a literary device that uses characters or events to represent ideas.
  34. Imagery: Imagery is the use of descriptive language to create images in the reader’s mind.
  35. Pathetic Fallacy: The pathetic fallacy is a literary device that attributes human emotions to inanimate objects.
  36. Ekphrasis: Ekphrasis is a literary device that uses descriptive language to evoke a work of art.
  37. Onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia is a literary device that uses words to imitate sounds.
  38. Anaphora: Anaphora is a literary device that uses repetition for emphasis.
  39. Epistrophe: Epistrophe is a literary device that uses repetition for emphasis.
  40. Pun: A pun is a literary device that uses words that have multiple meanings.
  41. Epithet: An epithet is a literary device that uses a descriptive word or phrase.

Why Do Writers Use Conceit?

There are a few reasons why writers might use conceit in their work: 

  • To make a complex idea more relatable or understandable
  • To create a more memorable image
  • To add humor
  • To show off their cleverness

Conceit can be a useful literary device when used sparingly and for the right reasons. Too much conceit, however, can be off-putting to readers and make the writer seem arrogant.

What Are Some Examples of Conceit in Literature?

One famous example of conceit can be found in John Donne’s poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning.” In the poem, the speaker compares his love for his wife to a mathematical equation.

Another example of conceit can be found in William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. In this sonnet, Shakespeare subverts the traditional idea of love by comparing his mistress to all sorts of negative things.

Why Do Writers Use Apostrophe?

apostrophe

An apostrophe is a literary device that is most often used for dramatic effect. It can be used to:

  • Address an inanimate object
  • Address a person who is not present
  • Address a person who is dead

When a writer uses apostrophe, they are using it as a way to speak directly to someone or something that is not physically present. This can be used to create a more personal connection with the reader or to make a character seem more real.

One of the most famous examples of apostrophe is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the play, Hamlet is speaking to his dead father’s ghost. This is an example of addressing a person who is not present.

Why Do Writers Use Caesura?

Caesura is a literary device that is used to create rhythm in a piece of writing. It is usually used in poetry, but it can also be used in prose. Caesura is created by using a pause in the middle of a line of text.

This pause can be created by using a comma, semicolon, or period. It can also be created by using a word that has multiple meanings, such as “and” or “but.”

Caesura can be used to create a sense of rhythm in a piece of writing, which can make it more enjoyable to read. It can also be used to create a sense of tension or suspense in a piece of writing.

Why Do Writers Use Metonymy or Synecdoche?

In poetry, metonymy and Synecdoche are two literary devices that are often used to create vivid images.

Metonymy is a figure of speech that involves using a word or phrase to refer to something else, usually something closely associated with it. For example, the phrase “all hands on deck” is a metonym for “everyone.”

Synecdoche, on the other hand, is a figure of speech that uses a part of something to represent the whole. For instance, the phrase “wheels” can be used to refer to a car.

These two devices are often used together in poetry to create startling and memorable images. By using metonymy and Synecdoche, poets can paint a picture in the reader’s mind that is both vivid and unique.

Why Do Writers Use Oxymorons?

oxymoron

In poetry, an oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines two seemingly contradictory terms. For example, the phrase “sweet sorrow” oxymoronically combines the opposing concepts of sweetness and sadness.

Oxymorons are often used for dramatic effect, as they can create a strong juxtaposition that highlights the contrast between the two ideas.

In addition to being used for dramatic effect, oxymorons can also be used to add humor to a poem or to make a point more clearly. When used skillfully, oxymorons can be a powerful tool in a poet’s arsenal.

Why Do Writers Use Zeugma?

Zeugma is a literary device that writers use for poetic effect. It occurs when a word is used to modify two or more words, even though the word may only grammatically apply to one of them.

For example, the phrases “She caught the ball and my attention” and “I lost my keys, and my temper” are examples of zeugma. In both cases, the word “lost” is used to modify both a noun (keys) and a verb (temper), even though it can only grammatically modify the verb.

Zeugma can be used to create surprising or humorous effects, and it is often used in poetry for this reason. As a result, writers should be aware of this literary device and how it can be used to enhance their writing.

Why Do Writers Use Repetition?

Writers use repetition for a variety of reasons. It can be used to create a feeling of rhythm or to emphasize a certain idea.

In poetry, writers often use repetition to create a particular mood or atmosphere. For example, by repeating a word or phrase several times, a poet can create a sense of suspense or foreboding.

Repetition can also be used to add emphasis to important words or ideas. In literature, repetition is often used as a literary device to help readers remember key points or characters. By repeating something several times, writers can ensure that readers will take notice and remember what has been said.

Why Do Writers Use Consonance and Assonance?

Writers often use consonance and assonance as tools to create sound effects in their poems. Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds, while assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds.

By repeating certain sounds throughout a poem, writers can create a musical effect that menu(“different readers. For example, the use of long vowels can create a feeling of expansiveness, while short vowels can create a feeling of urgency.

In addition, the placement of stressed and unstressed syllables can also affect the rhythm of a poem. By experimenting with different combinations of consonance and assonance, writers can create a wide variety of sound effects that add depth and meaning to their poetry.

Why Do Writers Use Euphony/Cacophony?

Many writers use euphony and cacophony in their work to create a desired effect. Euphony is the use of words that are pleasing to the ear, while cacophony is the use of harsh or discordant sounds.

In poetry, these techniques can be used to create a rhythm that enhances the meaning of the words. They can also be used to contrast two ideas or emotions.

For example, a writer might use euphony to describe the beauty of nature, and then use cacophony to describe the sound of a thunderstorm.

Why Do Writers Use Meter?

A writer may use meter to give their poems a rhythmic structure. This can make the poem feel more musical and can help to create a particular mood or atmosphere. Meter is usually created by using stressed and unstressed syllables in a regular pattern.

For example, iambic pentameter is a common meter in English poetry, which uses a pattern of five iambs (stressed syllable followed by unstressed syllable). This gives the poem a steady beat, which can create a feeling of forward momentum. Writers can also use meter to create contrast and tension in their poems.

For example, they might use a faster meter to convey excitement or a slower meter to create a sense of calm. By experimenting with different meters, writers can create a wide variety of effects in their poetry.

Why Do Writers Use Parallelism?

Writers often use parallelism as a way to create balance and symmetry in their poems. Parallelism is the use of similar grammatical structures in successive phrases or sentences.

This literary device can be used to create a sense of rhythm in a poem, as well as to emphasize certain ideas. For example, a writer might use parallelism to list the different qualities of an object.

By using parallel structures, the writer can create a sense of order and importance for each quality.

Why Do Writers Use Rhyme?

rhyme

One of the most important aspects of a poem is its rhyme scheme. This is the pattern of end rhymes that the poet uses throughout the poem. Rhyme can add a great deal to a poem, creating a sense of unity and helping the poem to flow more smoothly.

It can also add an element of fun and playfulness, making the poem more enjoyable to read. In addition, rhyme can create a sense of suspense or anticipation, urging the reader onward to see how the poem will end.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use rhyme in a poem is up to the poet. However, it is clear that rhyme can be a powerful tool for enhancing a poem’s overall effect.

Why Do Writers Use Foil?

In literature, a foil is a character who contrasts with the main character. Most often, a foil’s purpose is to highlight the qualities of the main character. In many works of fiction, the foil is used to create suspense or humor. However, in poetry, the use of a foil can serve a number of different purposes.

For example, a poet may use a foil to create a sense of opposites, explore different points of view, or emphasize the theme of the poem.

In some cases, the poet may even use multiple foils within a single poem. By carefully choosing their foils, poets can add depth and complexity to their work, making it more engaging and enjoyable for readers.

Why Do Writers Use Diction?

diction

Diction is an important tool for writers, as it can help to create mood, tone, and atmosphere. In poetry, diction can be used to create images that are vivid and lifelike. It can also be used to convey emotions or ideas in a compact and powerful way.

Perhaps most importantly, diction can help to make a poem more relatable and accessible to readers. By choosing words that are familiar and easy to understand, writers can make their poems more enjoyable and memorable.

Of course, too much simplicity can result in a poem that feels bland or overly simplistic. Ultimately, it is up to the writer to strike the right balance between accessibility and artistry.

Why Do Writers Use Mood?

Mood is the atmosphere of a piece of writing, and it can be created in a number of ways. Writers might use descriptive language to evoke a certain feeling, or they might choose to write about emotional topics that will resonate with readers.

The mood of a piece of poetry can also be affected by the structure and rhythm of the poem itself. For example, a poem with a slow, lyrical rhythm might create a feeling of tranquility, while a poem with sharp, staccato rhythms might convey a sense of urgency or excitement. 

Why Do Writers Use Foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing is a technique often used by writers to give readers a hint of what is to come later in the story. By providing subtle clues or hints about forthcoming events, foreshadowing allows readers to connect the dots and follow along with the plot as it unfolds.

This can be an effective tool for keeping readers engaged, as they actively try to piece together the clues and anticipate what will happen next.

In addition, foreshadowing can help to heighten the suspense of a story by creating a sense of unease or anticipation about what is to come.

Why Do Writers Use In Media Res?

In Media Res is a technique that is often used in poetry to engage the reader from the very beginning. The name comes from the Latin phrase “in medias res,” which means “in the middle of things.”

This technique is used to jump right into the story, without providing any background information or setting the scene. This can be a very effective way to grab the reader’s attention and keep them hooked throughout the poem.

In Media Res can be used in a variety of ways, but one common approach is to start in the middle of a conflict or action. This creates a sense of suspense and encourages the reader to keep reading in order to find out what happens next.

Why Do Writers Use Suspense?

suspense

In poetry, suspense is achieved through the use of tension, mystery, and foreboding. By creating a sense of unease and uncertainty, poets can keep readers engaged and invested in the poem.

Tension can be created through the use of violent or threatening images, while mystery can be created by withholding information or using elusive language. Foreboding usually comes from a sinister tone or a feeling that something bad is about to happen.

By skillfully employing these techniques, poets can create poems that are suspenseful and engaging.

Why Do Writers Use Dramatic Irony?

Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows something that the characters do not. This can create a sense of suspense, or it can be used for comedic effect. In either case, dramatic irony is a powerful tool that can be used to great effect by skilled writers.

Oftentimes, dramatic irony is used to build tension. For example, if a character is searching for a lost object while the audience knows that the object is in plain sight, the audience will be on the edge of their seats, waiting for the character to find it.

In other cases, dramatic irony may be used for comedic purposes. The characters could be arguing about something that the audience knows is not true, or they could be making plans that are doomed to fail. In either case, the audience’s knowledge of what is really going on creates a sense of amusement.

Dramatic irony can also be used in poetry to create a sense of suspense or to add a touch of humor.

Why Do Writers Use Vignettes?

A vignette is a short, descriptive scene from a story or poem. Although they are often just a few sentences long, vignettes can be powerful literary devices. They can be used to set the stage for a story, introduce a character, or create a mood.

Vignettes can also help readers to understand a character’s motivations or feelings. In some cases, a vignette may be the only glimpse into a character’s inner life that the reader gets.

As such, they can be an essential tool for writers who want to create rich, three-dimensional characters.

Why Do Writers Use Flashback?

There are a few reasons why writers might choose to use flashbacks in their work. Flashbacks can be used to provide backstory or context for a character or event, clarify a plot point, or create suspense by withholding information from the reader. They can also be used to add an extra layer of emotional resonance to a scene or story.

Flashbacks can be effective narrative devices because they allow the writer to break away from the present action and explore different aspects of the story in depth. They can also create a sense of disorientation for the reader, which can heighten suspense or create an effect of time-shifting.

However, care should be taken not to overuse flashbacks, as they can slow down the pacing of a story and disrupt the flow of the narrative.

Why Do Writers Use Soliloquy?

soliloquy

Soliloquy is a writing technique that allows writers to explore a character’s thoughts and feelings in depth. It can be used to reveal a character’s innermost thoughts and feelings, as well as their motivations and values. 

Writers use soliloquy for a number of reasons. Firstly, it can be used to provide insight into a character’s mind that would not be possible through dialogue or action alone.

Secondly, it can be used to create tension and suspense by delaying the revelation of crucial information. Finally, it can be employed as a stylistic device to add literary flair or create an atmosphere of introspection. 

Why Do Writers Use Alliteration?

Alliteration is a literary device that uses the repetition of consonant sounds to add emphasis and interest to writing. By using alliteration, writers can create a musical quality in their prose and call attention to specific words or phrases. Alliteration is often used in poetry, but it can also be effective in longer pieces of prose.

There are many different types of alliteration, but some of the most common include initial consonant sound alliteration, medial consonant sound alliteration, and final consonant sound alliteration.

Writers can use any combination of these types to create the desired effect. Alliteration is a great way to add flavor and rhythm to writing, and it can be used in poetry and prose alike.

Why Do Writers Use Metaphor?

metaphor

There are a few reasons why writers might use metaphor in their work. In poetry, metaphor is often used to create an extended comparison between two seemingly unrelated objects or ideas. By using images that are unfamiliar to the reader, the poet can achieve a level of abstraction that would be difficult to achieve with more literal language.

In prose, metaphor can be used to add depth and richness to the writing, and to help the reader visualize what is being described. Metaphors can also be used as a tool for characterization by revealing something about a character’s inner thoughts or feelings. Lastly, metaphor can be used for comic effect, by emphasizing the absurdity of a situation or character’s behavior.

Why Do Writers Use Simile?

Similes are often used in poetry to create a more vivid and memorable image for the reader. By comparing two things that are not normally thought of together, the simile can help the reader to see the subject in a new light. For example, a writer might use a simile to describe the way a particular person’s eyes look by comparing them to stars. 

Similes can also be used to create a sense of contrast or tension in a poem. For instance, a writer might use a simile to describe someone as being “as cold as ice” in order to show how unfeeling they are. In this case, the comparison highlights the difference between the warmth of human emotions and the coldness of the character’s heart.

Why Do Writers Use Symbolism?

Symbolism is often used in poetry to convey complex ideas and feelings. A symbol can be an object, animal, person, place, or event that stands for something else. The use of symbols in poetry allows writers to communicate their ideas and feelings more effectively by evoking certain associations in the reader’s mind. 

For example, a poet might use the symbol of a rose to represent love or the symbol of a skull to represent death. By using these symbols, the poet can communicate their ideas about love and death more powerfully than if they simply described these things directly. 

Symbols can also be used to create atmosphere or tone in a poem. For instance, if a poet uses lots of symbols that are traditionally associated with darkness and evil, they can create a feeling of foreboding or menace in their poem.

Why Do Writers Use Personification?

Personification is a poetic device in which an object or animal is given human characteristics. This can be done to create a more vivid description, to make a point about the object or animal, or to evoke an emotional response from the reader.

Some famous examples of personification include Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” in which the speaker compares the woods to a “scolding wife,”; and William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud,” in which daffodils are described as having “a tress of hair.”

In general, personification can be used to give life and personality to inanimate objects or animals, making them more relatable or interesting to the reader. It can also be used to create an emotional response in the reader by making them feel empathy for the object or animal that is being personified.

Why Do Writers Use Hyperbole?

Hyperbole

Writers use hyperbole in poetry to create a strong emotional response in their readers. By exaggerating certain aspects of the story or poem, the writer can evoke an intense reaction that might not be possible with more realistic language.

For example, consider this line from William Butler Yeats’s “The Second Coming”: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

In this poem, Yeats is describing the coming of the apocalypse, and he uses hyperbole to create a sense of fear and dread in his readers.

Why Do Writers Use Irony?

Irony is often used in poetry to create a more nuanced or complex meaning for the text. The use of irony can add layers of meaning and ambiguity that can be interpreted in multiple ways. It can also be used to convey a message that may not be immediately obvious on the surface.

Irony can also be used to create humor or add a light-hearted tone to the poem. By using irony in unexpected ways, the writer can surprise the reader and create a more engaging reading experience.

Why Do Writers Use Juxtaposition?

Juxtaposition is the placement of two strikingly different objects side by side. This can be done for rhetorical or poetic effect. In poetry, juxtaposition is often used to create a dichotomy or to highlight an ironic difference.

For example, in William Butler Yeats’s “The Second Coming,” the line “The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity” juxtaposes the apathy of the best with the fervor of the worst.

In Rudyard Kipling’s “If—,” the speaker lists a series of hypothetical situations in which it would be better not to succeed than to have succeeded. This juxtaposition creates irony and tension in the poem.

Why Do Writers Use Paradox?

A paradox is a statement that seems to be contradictory but may, in fact be true. Writers use paradoxes to create interest, ambiguity, or humor.

For example, the line “I am the one who is lost” from W.H. Auden’s poem “Musee des Beaux-Arts” creates a feeling of confusion and contradiction. The speaker appears to be lost, but at the same time, he is also looking for something. This type of paradoxical statement can generate interest in a poem by making readers question its meaning.

Why Do Writers Use Allusion?

An allusion is a figure of speech that references a person, place, thing, or event. In poetry, allusions can be used to create a richer and more layered text.

By referencing other works of literature, mythology, history, or popular culture, poets can add depth and complexity to their own poems. Allusions can also be used to invoke specific emotions or ideas in readers.

For example, in his poem “Ode to a Nightingale,” John Keats references the mythological bird Icarus as a way of describing the speaker’s intense experience of listening to the nightingale’s song:

“Do you not see how this jacinthine flower/ Opens its golden heart to the fire/ And drinks the air that burns?”

By referencing the story of Icarus, Keats is able to create a sense of yearning and desire in his readers. The allusion also adds layers of meaning to the poem by connecting the speaker’s experience to a larger story.

Why Do Writers Use Allegory?

An allegory is a literary device in which the characters, events, and setting of a story or poem are used to symbolize larger ideas or concepts.

Allegories are often used to teach moral lessons or to make political statements. In poetry, allegories can be used to create complex and nuanced meanings.

For example, in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” the animals are used to represent different groups of people during the Russian Revolution. The story is an allegory for the rise of communism and the corrupting influence of power.

In John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Satan is an allegory for rebellion and temptation. The poem tells the story of Satan’s fall from heaven, and Milton uses this story to explore the nature of evil.

Why Do Writers Use Imagery?

Imagery is the use of sensory language to create images in the reader’s mind. In poetry, imagery can be used to evoke emotions, describe settings, or create atmosphere.

By using vivid and concrete language, poets can give readers a strong sense of the poem’s subject.

For example, in “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot, the imagery of the wasteland creates a feeling of desolation and despair: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

The use of imagery can also be used to create more concrete and specific images in the reader’s mind. For example, in “The Tiger” by William Blake, the poet uses imagery to describe the tiger as a powerful and dangerous creature: “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright/ In the forests of the night.”

Why Do Writers Use Pathetic Fallacy?

There are a few reasons why writers might use pathetic fallacy. One reason is that it can be used to create a sense of empathy with the characters or setting in the story. For instance, if a character is feeling sad, the author might use pathetic fallacy to describe the weather as being sad or dreary. This can help readers feel more connected to the character and their emotions.

Another reason that authors might use pathetic fallacy is to evoke certain feelings in readers. For example, if an author wants to create a sense of dread or fear in readers, they might use pathetic fallacy to describe a dark and stormy night. This can help set the mood for the story and make readers feel more engaged.

Why Do Writers Use Ekphrasis?

There are a few reasons why writers might use ekphrasis in their work. First, it can be a way to add more description and detail to a scene or object. This can help create a more vivid picture for the reader and make the experience more immersive.

Additionally, ekphrasis can be used to create contrast or dramatic effect. By describing something in great detail, you can emphasize its importance or contrast it with something else in the scene.

Finally, ekphrasis can simply be a way to show off your authorial chops! Describing something is beautiful; poetic prose is a great way to demonstrate your skill as a writer. 

Why Do Writers Use Onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. For example, the word “sizzle” sounds like the sound a steak makes when it’s cooked. Onomatopoeia is often used in writing to create a more vivid and descriptive experience for readers. It can also be used to create humor or to add emphasis to a particular point.

Why Do Writers Use Puns?

Puns are often used in poetry to add layers of meaning to a poem. They can be used to create wordplay or to make a point about the subject of the poem. Puns can also be used as a way to add humor to a poem.

When using puns in poetry, it is important to use them sparingly and to make sure that they are appropriate for the poem’s subject matter. Too many puns can be frustrating for readers and can ruin the poem’s flow.

Puns should also be used in a way that enhances the poem rather than distracts from it. When used judiciously, puns can be a powerful tool for writers.

Why Do Writers Use Epithet?

An epithet is a figure of speech that uses descriptive language to characterize a person or thing. It is often used in poetry to create vivid images and to add emotional weight to the poem. For example, John Keats’ poem “Ode to a Nightingale” includes the lines “Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird! / No hungry generations tread thee down.”

In these lines, Keats uses the epithet “immortal Bird” to emphasize the nightingale’s immortality, contrasting it with the mortality of humans. Epithet can also be used to convey a writer’s feelings about a subject.

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