A simile is a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, and it’s used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (e.g. “as strong as an ox”).
Let’s check out some examples in poetry:
Denise Rogers’ “Your Teeth”
“Your teeth are like stars;
They come out at night.
They come back at dawn
When they’re ready to bite.”
Here, the poet’s speaker compares “your teeth” to “stars”. In these lines, we the readers don’t know who “you” refers to, yet we could potentially deduce who “your teeth” belong to if the poem continues and is longer and becomes even clearer to us.
Kelly Roper’s “Sally’s Swing and Miss”
“Sally cried, ‘Hey everyone, I want you to watch me.
I can swing on this play gym just like a monkey.’
She swung bar to bar until one bar she missed,
Then she fell and was so mad like an angry cat she hissed.”
Here, Sally’s dialogue reveals two similes which enriches her character and livens up the humor evident in these lines. The tone is more jocular than grave and a central reason is the strategic placement of these two similes. One could almost hear a little kid saying this or laughing at these vivid lines so the world of the poem feels much more fun as does Sally herself!
Robert Frost “Design”
“I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth–
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth–
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.”
Four similes abound in this Robert Frost poem in these lines which add a sense of place and a sense of vividness as well. Lastly, there is a cohesion that is felt in this poem with these back-to-back similes that are unique and intriguing and specific — and that mostly rhyme (“like…cloth”, “like…broth”, “like…froth”) and the last simile rhymes with the first line in this stanza (“a…spider, fat and white” and “like…kite”).
Simile is among the most popular literary devices that poets and authors use to add color and dimension to their written creative works.
Hopefully this gives you a brief snapshot of how to find them in a poem or other literary piece.