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All About Imagery

July 27, 2019 | By

For those who don’t know the kinds of Imagery used in Poetry, that there are more than the known five based on the five senses that you can use, here is a brief kind of rule of the thumb, with examples all from one poem, which makes it fascinating, the poem being John Keats’s Ode to Autumn.

Ode to Autumn

For those who don’t know the kinds of imagery there are in poetry and that you can use:

Based on Keats’s Ode ‘To Autumn.’
They are:
1. Visual imagery is for seeing. “the vines that around the thatch-eves run.”

2. Auditory imagery is for hearing. “in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn.. lambs BLEAT…crickets sing…the red breast WHISTLES.”

3. Tactile imagery is describing the sensation of touch. “barred clouds…”Touch the Stubble”-plains with rosy hue.” This is also synesthesia.

4. Gustatory imagery is the sense of taste. “to…plump the hazel shells with a ‘Sweet’ kernel.”

5. Olfactory imagery is the sense of smell “drowsed with the ‘Fume’ of poppies.”

6. Kinetic imagery is the sense of movement “thy ‘hair soft-lifted’ by the ‘Winnowing’ wind.”

7. Organic imagery is describing a thing without naming it in such a way the reader correctly guesses it name, i.e; accurately. If the great ode or poem “To Autumn” did not have a name, it would be a perfect example of this.

8. Related to this is onomatopoeia where through sound you capture the sound of the thing being described – “And gathering swallows TWITTER in the skies.”

9. And last of all synesthesia – “Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses such as sight. Another form of synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people’s names with a sensory perception such as smell, colour or flavor.” It lays it on thick, not paint, but layer upon layer of the senses in combination, pell-mell, mix and match, helter-skelter, in ones or twos.

John Keats

John Keats (Pic: Wikipedia)

Example:
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
“And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees…”

The last four lines are an example of synesthesia where Keats connects the sun and autumn to being conspiratorial ‘innoculators’, female and male, lovers, mischievous just-past-youth friends-with-benefits (“close-bosom friend of the maturing sun”), mother and father, making babies, having children, bringing them up, growing them or bringing them up, both sexually, and sensuously, by making the shells ‘plump’, and the gourds swell –  (the inversion of verbs he uses as in make ‘swell’ the gourds and ‘plump’ the hazel shells is really effective) – and the flowers bud. He says autumn is making them, in other words, pregnant, mixing sight and feel(ing) and touch in those images and making us see the process from outside and inside, a curious ability only the best or most deranged poets like Keats or Rimbaud in his ‘Voyelles’ have! It is possible some may find nothing new here, regarding the types of images, but what is new is connecting it to the poem under consideration to show it has all of them, almost; except for organic imagery due to the title, and enjoying that felicity of expression the young but indubitably great Keats had and appreciating his genius thereby. You may wonder if the young Keats did all this purposefully, but I think he did do it all knowingly and consciously.

To Autumn

BY JOHN KEATS
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

More to read in Literature DIY

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A Digression

Writing, Theory and the Making of Verse

Dr Koshy A. V. is presently an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Jazan University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has written, co-written and co-edited many books of criticism, fiction and poetry to his credit with authors like A.V. Varghese, Gorakhnath Gangane, Angel Meredith, Madhumita Ghosh, Zeenath Ibrahim, Rukhaya MK and Bina Biswas, among others, and one of them, a solo effort and pamphlet, 'A Treatise on Poetry for Beginners' was reprinted once as 'Art of Poetry.' He is a Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee (2012), and four times Best Poem winner in Destiny Poets UK ICOP (2013, 2014, 2018, 2019) and he was thrice featured in Camel Saloon’s The Hump for best poem/editor’s pick. Even as a child he won the Shankar's International Award for writing, at the age of six or seven. He is a reputed critic and expert on Samuel Beckett, having a book on him, "Samuel Beckett's English Poetry", besides being a fiction writer and theoretician. His other books include "Wake Up, India: Essays for Our Times", co-authored with Dr Bina Biswas, and "Mahesh Dattani's Plays: Staging the Invisibles" research essays by many collected and co-edited with Bina Biswas, "The Significant Anthology" he edited with Reena Prasad and Michele Baron, a collection of his stories "Scream and Other Urbane Legends" published by Lifi, and an anthology or collection of poetry "Igniting Key," with Bina Biswas and Pramila Khadun. He has edited or co-edited many books including A Man Outside History by Naseer Ahmed Nasir and Inklinks: An Anthology by PoetsCorner and Umbilical Chords with Madan Gandhi, Santosh Bakaya , Himali Narang and Vineetha Mekkoth. He instituted the Reuel International Literary Prize in 2014 for excellence in writing and runs an Autism NPO with his wife Anna Gabriel. The first Reuel prize was given to Dr Santosh Bakaya. He administers with the help of others the literary group Rejected Stuff on Facebook, now called THE SIGNIFICANT LEAGUE. His poems have been studied in a research paper by Dr Zeenath Ibrahim and by Kiriti Sengupta in The Dazzling Bards and also translated into Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati,German, Spanish, Arabic and Malayalam. He won World Bank’s Urgent Evoke and participated in European Union’s Edgeryders. He has been interviewed extensively. He has other degrees, diplomas, certificates and awards or prizes to his credit including best researcher and academic 2018 in Jazan University besides his UGC and doctorate on Beckett. He attributes everything to God’s grace and the prayers and good wishes of his loved ones. His latest books are "Allusions to Simplicity" and "Birds of Different Feathers", both collections of poetry like his first one "Figs". He is working on ten books now, one being on Bob Dylan. He has a certificate in Masters of World Literature from HarvardX, USA, earned in 2019, and a certificate from Napowrimo USA in 2018, besides completing 2019 NAPOWRIMO, USA. He also co-edited with Reena Prasad, Michele Baron and Anna Gabriel "Silhouette I and II featuring Eternal Links", and contributed to "Eyes Bloodshot: Hallowe'en Tales" edited by Firdaus Parvez, both short story anthologies. His other book is "Wrighteings: In Media Res", a collection of essays, and he has contributed to international magazines, both online and print, and poetry and short story anthologies aplenty. He was a columnist for Niamh Clune's Plum Tree, Ireland, and has been published by Barry Mowles, Brian Wrixon, Bezine, Madswirl, Spillwords, Wagon, Oddball magazine, Setu etc. He also has many research papers to his credit in places like Langlit, uncollected as yet. He has had retrospectives of his work done by Duane Vorhees and Glory Sasikala in duanesnewpoetree.blogspot.com and Glomag respectively. He recently achieved ten thousand reads on Research Gate for his research articles on display there.
All Posts of Dr Ampat Varghese Koshy

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