Metaphors, similes, connotation and denotation are used extensively in English literature, especially in poetry. We have already seen how they can also be used in movies and other kinds of stories.

Here are some famous similes:

Robbie Burns, the famous Scottish poet writes:

Simile: 1. O, my love is like a red, red rose

That's newly sprung in June.

2. O, my love is like the melodie

That's sweetly played in tune.

Denotation: 1. My girlfriend is like a flower.

2. My girlfriend is like a piece of music.

Connotation: 1. My girlfriend is as beautiful as a beautiful red rose, and probably smells good, too.

2. My girlfriend is like a beautiful piece of music or a song, she brings harmony, makes me feel peaceful, she is easy to be with.



The poet Langston Hughes uses two connected metaphors in the following sentence from the poem Long Trip.


The sea is a wilderness of waves,

A desert of water.

We usually think of wilderness as meaning wild places on land. Here he uses wilderness to mean the empty ocean. The second image is quite unusual. A desert is a place like Saudi Arabia, a place with no water. A desert is usually 'as dry as a bone.' Yet, he uses the metaphor to make us think about how empty the ocean seems. The ocean has no trees, no roads, no rivers, no cities, just like the sea.

Go on to the next exercise by clicking the button below and we will investigate some metaphors and similes from other areas of study (science, business, etc.)