Tenor: the implicit or explicit subject of the comparison, the starting point, that which is to be compared to something else
Vehicle (in simile or metaphor): the object of the comparison, the image or idea that the subject of the metaphor (the tenor) is compared to in order to understand the tenor in a new way
Metaphor: Nature's first green is gold
Tenor: Nature's first green
Although we associate new life in spring with green, Nature's first signs of life in spring are gold flowers or gold buds, not green leaves. By boldly asserting that the tenor "green," metononymic for all vegetative life, is the vehicle "gold," the speaker forces us to recognize this seeming paradox. Also, the vehicle "gold" helps the reader see that the tenor, the first signs of life in spring, is precious for its scarcity.
Tenor: Mind in its purest play
Vehicle: bat/ That beats about in caverns all alone
In the way that a bat uses extra-sensory perception to navigate its way through the dark caverns of a cave, the mind uses its imagination in "its purest play" to alter or go beyond perception in order find its way through the often dark and bleak aspects of reality. The vehicle of a bat confidently fluctuating through the dark cave without hitting any walls helps envision the cocksure, fluctuating movements of the imaginative mind as a means of survival.
Implicit metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things in which the tenor is not specified, but is implied by the vehicle. For example:
"The reed was too frail to survive the storm of its sorrows."
As the vehicle, "the gazelle," prances over the landscape, the tenor, "the eye," moves effortlessly from object to object. The vehicle, "a delicate wanderer," forces the reader to perceive the eye as a nomad, aimlessly traveling the landscape, without harmful intent. Finally, the vehicle, "drinker of horizon's fluid line," suggests that the tenor,” the eye," is thirsty, insatiable, and yearning for fulfillment. All three tenors help present the eye as effortless, aimless, and desiring--three details implicit in the comparison.
In the following poem, there is one simile and one metaphor in bold type.
Directions: In the following poem, there are SIX metaphors (two metaphors in the last line).
Praise in Summer
Obscurely yet most surely called to praise,
As summer sometimes calls us all, I said
The hills are heavens full of branching ways
Where star-nosed moles fly overhead the dead;
I said the trees are mines in air, I said
See how the sparrow burrows in the sky!
And then I wonder why this mad instead
Perverts our praise to uncreation, why
Such savor's in this wrenching things awry.
Does sense so stale that it must needs derange
The world to know it? To a praiseful eye
Should it not be enough of fresh and strange
That trees grow green, and moles can course in clay,
And sparrows sweep the ceiling of our day?
In either the Drag and Drop mode or the Freestyle mode of PicLits.com, write a poem that has at least one metaphor or simile. Write a brief paragraph on how the breakdown of the metaphor or simile helps the creation of your poem’s meaning.