Examples of Imagery in Poetry with Analysis

Before we get started, here’s a lesson plan for teaching imagery in poetry with a list of poets for teaching imagery.

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” Imagery

English Romantic Poetry Lesson Plans

Yes, you can spend multiple class periods on poetry without the dreaded 2-minute reading followed by 49 minutes of stammering. The British Romanticism Teaching Guide includes an overview of British Romanticism and an analysis of selected poems by William Blake, William Wordsworth. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats.

Imagery is the use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas. You use imagery all the time in every day language when you say things like “quiet as a mouse,” or “dumb as a box of rocks.”

Simply identifying examples of imagery is not enough. One must interpret the image and explain its effect on the poem as a whole, which we have done in the analysis sections.

For more on how to analyze a poem, follow the link.  Those who are able to take specific lines from literature and relate them to the entire work develop critical thinking skills that will serve them for a life time. Those who can use imagery to communicate their ideas more clearly advance on the path of becoming a master of words.

Here are examples of imagery in poetry from William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”

Example: “A host of golden daffodils; / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. (4-6)

Analysis: There aren’t several daffodils; there aren’t a lot of daffodils; there aren’t many daffodils. There’s a freaking host of ’em. There are so many, in fact, that they’re beside the lake and beneath the trees. Wordsworth then employs personification, describing daffodils “fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” A few lines down he recollects that the daffodils were engaged in a “sprightly dance.” I’m excited by this image. Heck, I want to throw a daffodil party right now. You’re invited.

Example: “Continuous as the stars that shine / And twinkle on the milky way, / They stretched in never-ending line / Along the margin of a bay.” (7-10).

Analysis: Wordsworth uses a simile in line 7 to connect the daffodils to the Universe; in other words, Wordsworth is claiming that becoming one with nature is equivalent to becoming one with the Universe or with God.

 “The Eagle” by Alfred Lord Tennyson and “The Raven” by E.A. Poe

The following examples are from “The Eagle” by Lord Alfred Tennyson.

Example: “He clasps the crag with crooked hands.” (1).
Analysis: The hard consonant sounds combined with images of crags and crooked hands set up the desolateness of nature and its cruelty.

Example: “The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; / He watches from his mountain walls.” (4-5).
Analysis: Tennyson provides the image of a predatory bird scouring the sea for prey.

Example: “And like a thunderbolt he falls.” (6).
Analysis: Tennyson employs a simile, comparing the eagle’s descent to a thunderbolt. It hints at the suddenness at which life can end.

Poetic picture with link to poetry lesson plans.

Imagine having 11 complete poetry units with handouts and lesson plans completed. You don’t need to imagine. These units are teacher ready and student ready. Just print, make copies, and accept accolades from colleagues and students.

The following examples of imagery come from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”

Example: “Each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.” (7).
Analysis: Embers are personified as dying. The reader is treated to the image of living objects becoming ghosts, a foreshadowing of the narrator’s fate.

Example: “And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming.” (105).
Analysis: The connection between the raven and pure evil is made through the image of its demon eyes.

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