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Figurative Language Poems with Questions

Poetry is a rich source of figurative language. Though there are examples of figurative language to be found in all genres of literature, perhaps none more than in poetry. Good poets pack worlds of meaning into tiny little lines. These lines evoke emotions, thoughts, and at times social change. One of the ways that poets perform these linguistic miracles is with the use of figurative language. This page contains a selection of poems that I find to be rich with figurative language.

Each poem also includes a sampling of comprehension, inference, review, and discussion questions, so that they are ready for classroom use. Learn more about how I study figurative language in the classroom with my figurative language lesson and unit plans.


Figurative Language Poem 1: Sketch by Carl Sandburg – This short poem describes ships on the shore and a rolling tide. It uses repetition really nicely as well as personification, hyperbole, metaphor, and alliteration. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 3-7
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Figurative Language Poem 2: I Sing the Battle by Harry Kemp – There is often a naive and jubilant rush to battle before wars begin, and a sobering reality check after the horrors are unleashed. Kemp expresses this dynamic exquisitely using an interesting rhetorical technique. This poem uses personification, simile, metaphor, alliteration, and dialogue. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
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Figurative Language Poem 3: from The Grave by Robert Blair – This poem gives readers a wry interpretation of life and death. It uses simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, and the tone of the poem is an intriguing centerpiece of discussion. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
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Figurative Language Poem 4: The Dawn’s Awakening! by Otto Leland Bohanan – Written by an African American poet around the time of the Harlem Renaissance, this piece expresses the power and beauty of a sunrise as it clears away darkness. This poems uses personification, metaphor, hyperbole, and some great imagery. There are also an interesting moment in the poem where the tone shifts and suggests something more. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
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Figurative Language Poem 5: Sleep by Annie Matheson – This poem describes the beauty of nature as night descends over a summer’s day; it is also packed full of figurative language! There are numerous examples of multiple metaphor, a couple similes, some beautiful language, and at least five examples of personification, which makes this a great poem to study if you’re teaching personification. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 9-13
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Figurative Language Poem 6: from X and XXI by Emily Dickinson – This worksheet is actually two poems, each of which is about books. They compliment one another really well. These poems contain numerous examples of personification, metaphor, and alliteration; more importantly, they promote literacy. Together, these poems contain metaphor, personification, and alliteration. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 8-12
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Figurative Language Poem 7: A Lady by Amy Lowell – This poem describes an interaction between a young woman and an old woman from the perspective of the young woman. There are some winding and well-crafted instances of figurative language in this piece. Specifically, it contains metaphor, personification, hyperbole, and simile. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
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Figurative Language Poem 8: The Black Land by Joseph Warren Beach – This poem proudly describes a farmer and he tills the land. It contains some interesting uses of metaphor, personification, and simile. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 3-7
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Figurative Language Poem 9: Operating Room by John Reed – This poem is a little more difficult than many of the other poems on this page. It also deals with subject matter that may be grim or unsettling to some readers. It is about a hospital operating room and a man who awakens to find that he has lost the use of his legs. The poem is chilling, but wonderfully written. It uses simile, metaphor, and hyperbole. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 9-13
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Common Core State Standards Related to Figurative Language

Anchor Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 – Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5 – Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Expand to View All Common Core State Standards Related to Figurative Language
ELA Standards: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)

ELA Standards: Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.5 – Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.5a – Explain the meaning of simple similes and metaphors (e.g., as pretty as a picture) in context.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.5b – Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5a – Interpret figurative language, including similes and metaphors, in context.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5b – Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.5a – Interpret figures of speech (e.g., personification) in context.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7.5a – Interpret figures of speech (e.g., literary, biblical, and mythological allusions) in context.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.5a – Interpret figures of speech (e.g. verbal irony, puns) in context.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5a – Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5a – Interpret figures of speech (e.g., hyperbole, paradox) in context and analyze their role in the text.

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Common Core Lesson and Unit Plans
Understanding Common Core State Standards

 

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21 Comments

  1. stephanie

     /  November 25, 2016

    This really helped me with my exams.Thnx

    Reply
  2. roopali

     /  October 26, 2016

    This site is simply awesome !!!!!
    Thanks a ton and keep going with new stuff!!!

    Reply
  3. Cienna Ortiz

     /  October 20, 2016

    This helped me so much.Thank you.

    Reply
  4. jan perales

     /  August 17, 2016

    Love this site. It was a great help

    Reply
  5. anesh anilesh deo

     /  August 7, 2016

    Thats what i all need
    thank you very much

    Reply
  6. Pegs

     /  May 10, 2016

    Your examples are amazing and just what I was looking for…thank you so much!

    Reply
  7. Nishat

     /  May 7, 2016

    Excellent Resources! It is aligned with CCSS. Great job. Thank you

    Reply
  8. N syed

     /  May 7, 2016

    Wonderful teaching resources! It is aligned with CCSS. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Ma unice Fajardo

     /  January 8, 2016

    I really like the poem.

    Reply
  10. M. Nelson

     /  December 31, 2015

    Mahalo nui Dr. Morton,

    I came across your resources while looking for a way to incorporate figurative language exploration into my students independent reading and LOVE THEM!

    Aloha

    Reply
  11. KYB

     /  November 28, 2015

    Thanks a million! Forever grateful!

    Reply
  12. Julissa

     /  January 18, 2015

    These are great resources! They will help the students that I’m tutoring to really grasp poetic terms. Thank you for sharing these items in such an organized way!

    Reply
  13. devin jordan

     /  January 16, 2015

    thank you so much Mr.Morton this helped me a lot on my project

    Reply
  14. Brendan Gamor sixth grade student

     /  December 29, 2014

    Ur poems helped me do my project so thank you mr Morton

    Reply
  15. Han

     /  November 6, 2014

    Thank you very much for making these resources available. They are of great quality and there is a great range of different types of detailed worksheets. I am very grateful for your generosity.

    Reply
  16. Jacqueline Carter

     /  September 15, 2014

    Thank you for this resource. i found the poems were quite appropriate for the grade level.

    Reply
  17. Kalli Carvalho

     /  May 4, 2014

    Amazing Core aligned curriculum. I have used the middle school ELA worksheets, and noticed that the online practice tests are VERY SIMILAR to recent Smarter Balance pilot tests. Thank you

    Reply
  18. Rasi

     /  January 13, 2014

    interesting

    Reply

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