Impact of Stylistic Devices on the Poems Efficacy in Comparison to the Theme

Most poets focus primarily on the theme of their poems, ignoring the efficient choice of stylistic devices in subconsciously revealing and reinforcing the theme to the reader, which is deteriorating for their poems efficacy. This paper will focus on analyzing poems from three poets to find their impact and understand how the stylistic devices and the outstanding theme contribute to the poem’s effectiveness.

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Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a poet whose poems have played significant roles in advocating for civil rights. She has written six autobiographical books, five essays, and several books of poetry. Angelou has won many notable and significant awards in her career, including a Nobel Prize in literature. One poem to note is the ‘phenomenal woman.’ Despite being evident in the theme, the first few lines of the poem are deficient in style. Therefore, the reader is left to go through the poem absent-mindedly until he encounters the richly endowed part towards the end. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman is the bit that grabs back the reader’s mind by repetition and makes the poem’s theme unconsciously stick to mind but not the first few lines that contain the theme. Repetition uses the same term several times and is the fundamental way of creating a rhythmic pattern (Yumico 453). When writing this poem, Maya Angelou was fully conscious of this style and has employed it rhythmically throughout the poem, a good example being the last four lines that drive home the idea that this woman is unique. Rhyme is another style richly employed in this poem. Goswami (77) defined Rhyme as the arrangement of words whose final syllables sound the same. In this particular poem, ending words like please, knees, and bees are all in a riming pattern, and so does bowed, loud, and proud, among others. Rimes give the poem some rhythm, and the poet was well conscious and mastered it perfectly.

One more noteworthy poem in her writings bears the title of when great trees fall. She begins the poem by the use of metaphors, also known as symbolism and imagery. Metaphors refer to words or phrases representing some objects or actions, being used in place of others to suggest likeness or analogy between them (Yu 23). She uses the falling of great trees to represent the fall or death of great men in society. However, even before she goes ahead to explain her symbolism, she has already aroused enough curiosity within the reader’s mind. The reader will be very concerned and eager to understand what the writer implies. This will result in a series of lingering questions in the reader’s mind, driving him to much more keenly and perfectly grasp the poem’s theme when introduced within the second paragraph. Metaphors have also been employed in this piece of poetry. Alliteration has also been used in this poetic art. Alliteration is attained when poets use successive words or those that appear close together, often beginning with the same letter (Lindstromberg 236). A visible example of this figurative language is “suddenly sharpened” and “breathe, briefly,” both in the third stanza. Assuming that Angelou never used these styles in her writing, the work may appear blank and almost story-like. This would make the reader go through the job without curiosity, eagerness, or desire to understand it. Therefore, it is evident that the proper use of style plays a crucial role in generating sufficient interest for the poem.


Alice Walker

Alice Walker was an American writer and a poet. She was born November 9th, 1944, and died February 25th, 2019. She had a long, esteemed career as an author, including a Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller, The Color Purple. She is known for works like The Color Purple and The Third Life of Grange Copeland. She has a unique writing style, with lyrics similar to poetry but complete resolutions of words that feature considerably more than just one meaning. It will be necessary to note her poem ‘be nobody’s darling.’ The poem’s structure and richness of her use of poetic devices leave the reader in such a situation of mind where they cannot escape but grab the poem’s theme.

Metonymy is an evident style of writing in her poem. Cropley (305) defined metonymy as a scenario when a poet refers to something by its characteristics rather than its name. In this particular poem, the phrase “Or line the crowded/ River beds” is a metonymy with “river beds” referring to societal norms. Alice has also employed Paradox in this poem. As defined by Brooks (117), Paradox describes a seemingly self-contradictory figure of speech that illuminates truth. In this poem, the poet talks about “dead thoughts,” which are unacceptable to society. Those thoughts generate in the heart. Like babies, the ideas grow up. For not getting a proper outlet in the end, those thoughts die. Yet the poet assures the readers to be happy as they are gallant enough to accept Life’s ordeals and sustain until the end.

The poem wherever you are grieving is another noteworthy poem. The poem’s theme is to prove to her loved one that she loves and values him. In this poem, the poet employs exaggeration in the opening paragraph, which works perfectly to enhance the theme. Exaggeration means claiming something is more significant than it is. In poetry, Fussel (256) argued that exaggeration stresses particular elements of one’s story and ensures that the reader focuses on what’s truly important. The writer is left in a leadership state where she has already captured the readers attention with the immensity of love and emotion, and she values her loved one. It is so perfect that the writer does not need to categorically or directly state that she loves the man. The writer will have already grasped the message with or without the words being clearly and plainly stated. However, by directly using the words I love you, even though they convey the theme, these words cannot effectively pass the message.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was an African American poet and writer. He was known for his social activism, and his poetry and works were powerful and influential during the Great Depression and the Harlem Renaissance. The poems of Langston Hughes stood out because of his use of rhythm and Rhyme and his use of repetition. Hughes would use mostly assonance and consonance to help set his rhythm. The rhyming words would go together, and it would help the listener follow along. When he had to use one of those devices, he would use it for maximum effect. On top of that, Hughes would use repetition. He would use the exact words in multiple poems, and he would use varying lengths of time for repetition, which would help create the flow of his content.

The mother-to-son poem is of significance to this discussion. The poem begins with such a beautiful decoration of style, which immediately grabs the readers attention and makes the theme stick to mind. Assonance and consonance have been borrowed substantively in this poem. Zillman (58) described assonance as the systematic and rhythmic pattern of sound produced by vowels of the same line, while consonance is concerned with consonant sounds. /O/ sound in “So boy, don’t you turn back” is an example of assonance, while consonance is evident in the /t/ and /r/ sounds in “Where there ain’t been no light.” Langston has also borrowed much on imagery in this poem. It is used to make readers perceive things with their five senses. The imagery was described by Hayward (9) as the employment of figurative language to stimulate or picture an idea with words for the readers. When the says, ‘Life for me aint been no crystal stair, it is inevitable for the reader to take home that the writer implies that Life has been difficult. If perhaps the writer would have just so directly stated his theme with the words, Life is difficult, then it would be so easy and likely that the reader will completely ignore this theme. The poet would then have to go to extreme lengths in defense and reinforce his theme to impact the reader.

Analysis of the poem weary blues very categorically and justifies the same argument. Hughes begins his poem by the use of imagery in the first paragraph. The reader can picture the image of someone droning a tired tune. Though this does not contain the poem’s theme, it psychologically prepares the reader to wait anxiously for the theme. Therefore, the reader will carefully read each sentence not to lose track of the writer’s message. It is also noteworthy that most poets use these styles in their introductory paragraphs, which are the most important in determining whether the reader will read the whole poem. As a result, the power and efficacy of style cannot be underestimated or overstated.

These few demonstrated instances prove that poets should end the poems with rich stylistic devices and worry less about the theme. The style suits the theme, and it will unconsciously reinforce the theme in the reader’s mind. Stating the theme in plain and unambiguous language may be dull, insufficient, and entirely unsuitable for the efficacy of the poem. This is where style comes in to bridge this gap.






Work Cited

Brooks, Cleanth. The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry. New York: Reynal

& Hitchcock, 2019.

Cropley, David Functional relativity: products and the generation of effective

novelty, inThe Cambridge Handbook of Creativity, eds J. C. Kaufman and R. J. Sternberg (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), (2017). 301317.

Fussell, Susan. “The Use of Exaggeration in Discourse Cognitive and Social Facets”.

Social and Cognitive and Cognitive Approaches to Interpersonal Communication.

New York: Psychological Press. (2018).

Goswami, Usha. Rhyme and analogy in beginning reading: Conceptual and methodological

issues. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21, (2019). 6393

Hayward, Malcolm. Analysis of a corpus of poetry by a connectionist model of poetic meter.

Poetics, 24(1), (2016) 111.

Lindstromberg, Seth. “Finding Easy Ways to Learn Data: The Mnemonic Effect of

Alliteration.” System 33.2 (2015): 225-38.

Yu, Ning. Synaesthetic metaphor: A cognitive perspective. Journal of Literary Semantics,

(32), (2016). 1934.

Yumiko Iwata. Creating suspense and surprise in short literary fiction: A stylistic and narratological approach. The University of Birmingham 2017 Short Mick. Style in fiction, 2nd edition. London: Longman. 2017. Galperin I. Stylistics. Moscow, 2017.

Zillman, Lawrence. (2019),The Art and Craft of Poetry(New York: Macmillan, 2019), p. 58



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