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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 2: 'I Sing the Battle'
There is often a naive and jubilant rush to battle before wars begin. A sobering reality check comes after the horrors are unleashed. Harry Kemp expresses this dynamic exquisitely in this short poem. He uses an interesting rhetorical technique and it contains many examples of figurative language. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9.
This is a preview image of Figurative Language Poem 2:  'I Sing the Battle'. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Figurative Language Poem 3: 'The Grave'
This poem by Robert Blair 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 6-10.
This is a preview image of Figurative Language Poem 3: 'The Grave'. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Figurative Language Poem 4: 'The Dawn's Awakening!'
This poem was written by African American poet Otto Leland Bohanan around the time of the Harlem Renaissance. It 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.
This is a preview image of Figurative Language Poem 4: 'The Dawn's Awakening!'. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Figurative Language Poem 5: 'Sleep'
This poem by Annie Matheson describes the beauty of nature as night descends over a summer day. It is packed full of figurative language! Metaphors, similes, some beautiful imagery, and at least five examples of personification. This is a great poem to study if you're teaching personification. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 9-13
This is a preview image of Figurative Language Poem 5: 'Sleep'. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Figurative Language Poem 6: 'X' and 'XXI'
Emily Dickinson wrote these two poems about books. They compliment one another really well. They contain examples of personification, metaphor, and alliteration. They also promote literacy. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 8-12
This is a preview image of Figurative Language Poem 6: 'X' and 'XXI'. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Figurative Language Poem 7: 'A Lady'
This poem written by Amy Lowell describes an interaction between a young woman and an old woman. It is written from the perspective of the young woman. There are some winding and well-crafted instances of figurative language in this piece. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10.
This is a preview image of Figurative Language Poem 7: 'A Lady'. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Figurative Language Poem 8: 'The Black Land'
This poem written by Joseph Warren Beach describes a farmer as he tills the land. It contains some interesting uses of metaphor, personification, and simile. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 3-7.
This is a preview image of Figurative Language Poem 8: 'The Black Land'. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Figurative Language Poem 9: 'Operating Room'
This poem written by John Reed 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.
This is a preview image of Figurative Language Poem 9: 'Operating Room'. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

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.

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.

View Source
Common Core Lesson and Unit Plans
Understanding Common Core State Standards

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47 Comments

  1. Daniela

     /  July 30, 2020

    This is an amazing resource. Thank you for putting this site together. The poems are great and the worksheets very well put together.

    Reply
  2. Rosa

     /  February 2, 2020

    Your material is super helpful and amazing. I am very grateful. Thank you so much. You are brilliant.

    Reply
  3. Kim

     /  January 30, 2020

    Thank you!!! Just what I needed.

    Reply
  4. Nancy Shook

     /  July 16, 2019

    Do you have one of these on “Sea Fever” with questions?

    Reply
  5. Zohra

     /  March 7, 2019

    brilliant piece of work, thank you soooo much

    Reply
  6. lexi

     /  February 22, 2019

    love these. were really helpful

    Reply
  7. J. Brownrigg

     /  February 6, 2019

    I am very grateful that this resource is here and free. Whenever I become stuck, wondering what direction I might take, I look at your sheets and see things which either fit the bill or inspire me to try something new. So few teachers have money to spend on the very things we need to improve. Your help is gratefully appreciated.

    Reply
  8. Movita Utt

     /  February 4, 2019

    Mr. Morton,
    Thank you for such a wonderful and resourceful site. I have used your materials for a number of years, and my students always do well on their state tests.

    You offer such a wide variety and large number of activities on the same topic that I am able to use many as instructional and practice materials and still have several worksheets or activities to use as review just prior to the spring tests.

    I hope you know how much you are appreciated! I just can’t say enough good things about you and this site.

    God bless!

    Reply
  9. ponka lersda

     /  December 18, 2018

    amazin outstanding

    Reply
  10. Sandy

     /  November 21, 2018

    Amazing
    My school uses the so I can practice them
    They may come like tests:D

    Reply
  11. john thomas baker

     /  September 27, 2018

    its okay to me!

    Reply
  12. Annonymous

     /  July 21, 2018

    That’s what I wanted thanks a lot
    Best site english poem practice

    Reply
  13. Aparna Ganguli

     /  June 1, 2018

    Thank you very much, Mr Morton. I am sure I do not have words enough to tell you how much the website has helped me in teaching. Please keep the good work going.

    Reply
  14. CAO Zhixi

     /  April 7, 2018

    Exercellent!
    Thanks!
    CAO Zhixi

    Reply
  15. Mandy Poppins

     /  March 2, 2018

    This is amazing!!! Thank you so much for making it available and for supplying answer keys. This is so well thought out!

    Reply
  16. Burki

     /  December 30, 2017

    Dear Mr Norton,
    Amazing work! Your resources helped me a lot. Can you please send me some more? Thank you!

    Reply
  17. Nebras

     /  October 23, 2017

    Very good

    Reply
  18. Mrs. Bergren

     /  October 19, 2017

    Thank you so much for the content on this site! My freshmen find poetry so dull; I can’t wait to introduce some of the activities to them.

    Reply
  19. BOSCO NKUNZURWANDA

     /  August 24, 2017

    thanks

    Reply
  20. Gerty Ferns

     /  August 12, 2017

    Great worksheets!!
    Thank you very much for making these resources available so easily. All worksheets are of great quality and have a range of detailed language skills. I am very grateful for your generosity.

    Reply
  21. daniel

     /  July 18, 2017

    thanks for the amazing information i am sure to come back

    Reply
  22. Person

     /  May 18, 2017

    Do you know only myra cohn livingston poems?

    Reply
  23. stephanie

     /  November 25, 2016

    This really helped me with my exams.Thnx

    Reply
  24. roopali

     /  October 26, 2016

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

    Reply
  25. Cienna Ortiz

     /  October 20, 2016

    This helped me so much.Thank you.

    Reply
  26. jan perales

     /  August 17, 2016

    Love this site. It was a great help

    Reply
  27. anesh anilesh deo

     /  August 7, 2016

    Thats what i all need
    thank you very much

    Reply
  28. Pegs

     /  May 10, 2016

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

    Reply
  29. Nishat

     /  May 7, 2016

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

    Reply
  30. N syed

     /  May 7, 2016

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

    Reply
  31. Ma unice Fajardo

     /  January 8, 2016

    I really like the poem.

    Reply
  32. 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
  33. KYB

     /  November 28, 2015

    Thanks a million! Forever grateful!

    Reply
  34. 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
  35. devin jordan

     /  January 16, 2015

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

    Reply
  36. Brendan Gamor sixth grade student

     /  December 29, 2014

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

    Reply
  37. 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
  38. Jacqueline Carter

     /  September 15, 2014

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

    Reply
  39. 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
  40. Rasi

     /  January 13, 2014

    interesting

    Reply

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