Examples Of Figurative Language In Children’s Poetry and Rhymes

Poetry has always been a powerful medium in the little world of children’s literature. These works of poetry create memories and wisdom that children carry into adulthood. The literary devices in kids’ poetry often expose them to a new horizon of words, expanding their collection of vocabulary in any language. These techniques make children more imaginative and make them able to peep inside for deeper interpretations and results in more confident and independent thinkers. These devices make the poems more magical and expand the child’s vision. The most common techniques of figurative languages you can find in poetry are Simile, Metaphor, Symbolism, Alliteration, Hyperbole, and many more. For a detailed list refer to this article: //literarydevices.net/figurative-language/. Here are a few examples of figurative languages in poetry:

Check – James Stephens

The Night was creeping on the ground!
She crept, and did not make a sound
Until she reached the tree: And then
She covered it, and stole again.

I heard the rustle of her shawl
As she threw blackness everywhere

Here, the night is here personified and portrayed as a woman who moves over the world casting its shadow. The rhyming sounds are enhancing the poem as in 1st and 2nd lines the words ‘ground’ and ‘sound’. There is also imagery which appeals to our senses as in lines ‘ I heard the rustle’, ‘blackness everywhere’ and ‘creeping on the ground’.

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

At the start of the rhyme, there’s imagery. There’s an immediate shift of imagery in the next line when he fell. The contrast is dramatic and immediate. There is hyperbole used as humor; otherwise, it’s just a funny poem. Personification is also used in the rhyme as the poet has given human traits to an egg.

Little Miss Muffet

 Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

This is one of the many rhymes written by Mother Goose. These rhymes help children to see a story in just a few lines. The rhymes are the best tools to learn phonics. Here, there as alliteration in the first line where the sound of /m/. In lines 1 and 2, the sound of /f/ is used as a consonance. The entire rhyme has visual imagery.  The rhyming words are ‘Muffet and tuffet’, ‘whey and away’ and ‘spider and her’.

Marry had A Little lamb

Mary Had a Little Lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

The assonance is used in the 3rd line, the vowel sound /e/ is repeated in ‘Mary and went’. For consonance we can see the line ‘Its fleece was white as snow’; here the/s/ sound is dominating. Alliteration is used in the 1st line, the sound of /l/ is repeated in ‘little lamb’. The visual imagery is once again used throughout the rhyme. The rhyme also has a simile. The lamb’s fleece is compared to the snow.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky…
Then the traveller in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;

The stars are personified in the line ‘for you never shut your eyes’. The stars are also compared with a diamond through the use of a simile. Here the poet used the apostrophe when the child talks to the stars. Similar to most rhymes, visual imagery dominates the rhyme. The alliteration is used the line ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ where the /t/ sound is in repetition.

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,

In the 1st line, assonance is used where the /aa/ sound is repeated in ‘baa, baa’. In the same line, there is an alliteration with the sound of /b/. Alliteration and consonance are also used as the sounds /y/ and /s/ and the sounds of /s/ and /r/ respectively in the line, ‘yes sir yes sir three bags full’. Lines 3 and 4 are also imagery. Sheep is personified when he speaks to a boy like a human. Wool is used as a symbol for trade. The poet has used onomatopoeia ‘baa’ in the first line.

Hey Diddle Diddle

 Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Assonance is used in the first line as the sound of /i/ is repeated in ‘diddle, diddle’. The same lines also used alliteration in the sound of /d/ and consonance in the sounds of /dd/ and /l/, respectively. Similar to the above examples, the rhyme has used the imagery in the lines. Such as ‘The cow jumped over the moon’, ‘the little dog laughed’ and ‘and the dish ran away with the spoon’. In this poem, the dog and dish are personified. In the line, ‘the cow jumped over the moon’ poet has used hyperbole.

Little Boy Blue

Little Boy Blue
Come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow
The cow’s in the corn.
But where’s the boy
Who looks after the sheep?

‘The sheep in the meadow’, ‘The cow’s in the corn’ and ‘he’s under a haystack’; these lines have imagery because they are appealing toward visual senses. Alliteration is used in the title line ‘little boy blue’. Here there is a repetition of the sound of /b/ in ‘boy blue’. The ‘little boy blue’ is also an extended metaphor for innocence.

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

The entire rhyme is imagery. In the first line, alliteration is used as the quick succession of /j/ sound is used in Jack and Jill. It also has assonance as the sound of /a/ is repeated in ‘Jack’ and ‘and’. Consonance is used in the same first and fourth lines where the repetition of /l/ sound in ‘Jill’ and ‘hill’ and ‘Jill’ and ‘tumbling’ respectively. The first two lines have enjambment as the first verse continues in the next line.

Owl and The Pussy Cat

In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love

In this poem, both owl and cat are personified. Alliteration is used in the line ‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love’, the sounds of /p / is repeated. The phrase ‘pea-green boat’ is used as a symbol for hope.