“Metaphor: (Greek “carrying from one place to another”) A figure of speech in which one thing is described in terms of another. The basic figure in poetry. A comparison is usually implicit; whereas in simile (q.v.) it is explicit. There are several metaphors in these lines from the beginning of R.S. Thomas’s Song at the Year’s Turning:

‘Shelley dreamed it. Now the dream decays.

The props crumble. The familiar ways

Are stale with tears trodden underfoot.

The heart’s flower withers at the root.

Bury it, then, in history’s sterile dust.

The slow years shall tame your tawny lust.’


Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

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