How to Form Conceits in Poetry: 8 Examples

A conceit is a literary device in which a writer uses a particularly complex or extended metaphor or analogy to explore a theme or idea. Here are some tips for using conceits in your writing, along with 10 examples of conceits from poems, along with the poets and lines that contain them:

1. Choose a metaphor or analogy that is interesting and unique, and that will help to explore and illustrate your theme or idea in a fresh and engaging way.
2. Develop and expand upon your conceit, using specific and concrete language to create vivid and detailed images for the reader.
3. Use your conceit to explore multiple facets of your theme or idea, and consider how your conceit can shed light on different aspects of your subject.
4. Use your conceit to create a cohesive and logical structure for your poem or piece of writing, and consider how it can help to guide and shape the overall flow and organization of your work. 5. Use your conceit to add depth and meaning to your writing, and consider how it can help to create a rich and nuanced exploration of your theme or idea.

Examples

1. "The Flea" by John Donne: In this poem, the speaker uses the image of a flea to symbolize the intimacy and connection shared by two lovers. "And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, / Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, / Sermons in stones, and good in everything."

2. "The Sun Rising" by John Donne: In this poem, the speaker uses the image of the sun to symbolize the power and authority of love, and compares the sun's journey through the sky to the journey of a lover through life. "Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, / Who is already sick and pale with grief, / That thou her maid art far more fair than she."

3. "The Lamb" by William Blake: In this poem, the speaker uses the image of a lamb to symbolize the innocence and purity of Christ, and compares the lamb's gentle and trusting nature to Christ's love and compassion. "He is called by thy name, / For he calls himself a Lamb: / He is meek & he is mild, / He became a little child."

4. "The Tiger" by William Blake: In this poem, the speaker uses the image of a tiger to symbolize the ferocity and power of God, and compares the tiger's strength and grace to the majesty of the divine. "Did he who made the Lamb make thee? / Tiger, Tiger, burning bright / In the forests of the night."

5. "The Ecstasy" by John Donne: In this poem, the speaker uses the image of a compass to symbolize the spiritual and emotional connection shared by two lovers, and compares the compass's journey to the journey of the lover's souls. "Our souls have sight of that immortal sea / Which brought us hither, / Can in their turn the globe, that brings us here, / And through the heavenly bodies be a sphere."

6. "The Good-Morrow" by John Donne: In this poem, the speaker uses the image of a map to symbolize the unity and connection shared by two lovers, and compares the map's depiction of the world to the way in which the lovers see and understand each other. "I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I / Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?"

7. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" by John Donne: In this poem, the speaker uses the image of a compass to symbolize the separation of two lovers, and compares the compass's movement to the way in which the lovers' souls will continue to be drawn together even when they are physically apart. "If they be two, they are two so / As stiff twin compasses are two; / Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show / To move, but doth, if the other do."

8. "The Dream" by John Donne: In this poem, the speaker uses the image of a dream to symbolize the fleeting and ephemeral nature of life, and compares the dream's fleeting impressions to the way in which life passes quickly and unexpectedly. "Our gentle sleep, / This dream, this shade, this rest, this sleep is Death."

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