On Writing Similes and Metaphors


A Similie is a form of comparison using "as" – or "like."   

          "My love is like a red, red rose."

Are you keeping a Writer's Notebook? Try writing 10 similes. (Sort of looks like "smiles," doesn't it?

Let's see what some of our Negative Capability author's have written by way of similes.

From Volume V1.4, Fall 1986 issue of Negative Capability:

Yevgeny Yevtusnenko (translated by Albert Todd):
From “Disbelief In Yourself Is Indispensable”

            Better to cut open your veins with a can opener,
            to lie like a wino on a spit, spattered bench in the park
            than to come to that comfortable belief
            in your own special significance.

Karl Shapiro:
From “Vietnam Memorial”

            Our eyes like seaworms crawl across the slab.

 Marge Piercy:
From “The Whole That Is Made Of Wanting”

            . . . the capacity for love as a salmon
fat with eggs thrashes up waterfalls.

 W.D. Snodgrass:
From: “W.D. Attempts To Swallow The Symbol”

            It is like swallowing your head
            with corners.

Diane Wakoski:
From: “Wearing Cheryl’s Gift”

            . . . I think I’ve learned that only the body
can die and rise again;
                                    the spirit
like a flea on a dog goes up and down with it.

Joseph Lisowski
From: “The Funeral”

                                    . . . I touched his hand
            And it felt like grainy cellulose . . .

Take a poem you have already written and add a simile – or two.

Like the simile, the metaphor is a form of comparison – without the use of “as” or “like.” 

The metaphor has two parts – the thing that is being described – and what it being compared to. 

Doyle Wesley Walls
From “The Woman He Married,” Negative Capability: Vol IV.2. Spring 1984

            The woman he married is a very long novel.

Richard Moran
From “Life On The Rim,” Negative Capability: Vol IV.2. Spring 1984

            It’s hard being a domino,      
            having to fall
            and having to get up
            only to fall again.

Linda P. Burggraf
From “Feste’s Song.” Negative Capability,  Vol IX.2, 1989.

Each stanza of the poem begins with anaphora – that is metaphor as well:

            Were this had the stuff of  youth . . .
            Were this hand an aqua vase . . .
            Were this had rice paper . . .
            Were this hand a tatted cloth . . .
            Where this had kitestrings . . .
            Were this hand a new mother’s breast. . .
            Were this hand your child . . .
            Were this had a woman bleeding . . .

Take a poem you have written – and add a metaphor. 

Take a line from Burggraf's poem and use it to begin a poem – but be sure to add a note at the end to give her credit for the line.