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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Comparisons work in poetry, not in life!


Comparing one person to another or one thing to something better (or worse!) does not work well in real life. In poetry, however, comparisons can reveal the abstract in visible terms readers can picture.


First, an example of the nonworkable way to compare: After my husband and I bought a newly built house with shiny hardwood floors, we visited my parents, who lived in an older home. As soon as we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the floors – old and in need of sanding and re-staining.


A couple of years later, we moved to an old apartment building in New Orleans with dark, worn wooden flooring. So, what do you suppose I thought of my parents’ house when we returned to visit? Yes, I discovered they had nice, bright medium-stained floors, which had not been redone in years.


That kind of comparison skews our view and can get us into trouble. For instance, comparing one child or skin color or church affiliation to another mainly shows our favoritism, prejudice, or ignorance!


In poetry though, we aim to illustrate ideas and concepts that cannot be pictured with something that can. For example, in writing PRAISE! these “pictures” of God came to me.


Praise God Our Axis –

Around Whom

all things turn

and without Whom

everything gets

off balance –

like an overloaded

washing machine

or earth off its orbit

or a planet spinning

out of control.




Praise God Our Heavenly Fog –

Through Whom we see what’s now

and near and clear enough to touch.




Praise Christ Our Holy Telescope –

Through Whom we clearly see

what’s coming

when we need to know.


Praise Christ our holy


Who helps us to discern

the true,

the false

in tiny telling detail.


from PRAISE! by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, published by Cladach Publishing


Scrolling through this blog site and/or typing a subject of interest into the Search box above can help to expand your own options in writing poetry.


If you’ve been following this blog (thank you very much!), you’ve most likely seen posts on figurative language expressed in metaphor (this IS that) and simile (this is LIKE that or similar.) When freshly done, those comparisons reawaken our senses and help us to be more appreciative of the beauty around us.


Every evening, for instance, my husband and I sit on the deck overlooking our little lake in hopes of witnessing a memorable sunset. Some are subtle, some vivid, but many often evoke comparisons fit for a new haiku:


The low-lying sun

ignites a cotton blanket

of flammable clouds.


Pink flying saucers

trailing across the twilight –

landing in the pond.


from Talkingto the Wren: haiku, short verse, and one long poem by Mary HarwellSayler, ©2020, published by Cyberwit.net


Coming up with fresh comparisons will likely occur if you simply give a poem ample time. Then, meditating on abstract concepts or carefully observing what can be seen, heard, or felt will elevate your poems and your awareness of the amazing creation in which we live.


Mary Sayler, ©2020



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