A photograph of a young man acting out all of the five senses in a conceptual photograph.

Source: Sense no evil, Hilde Skjolberg, Flickr

In addition to the types of figurative language you learned about in the previous section, poets often use figurative language to appeal to the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Language that appeals to the senses also creates a greater emotional impact on the reader. Can you match the lines of poetry below to the corresponding senses?

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Often, a poet makes use of special figurative language known as sound devices. These devices appeal to the sense of sound and intensify the impact of the poem. Two of these useful sound devices are alliteration and onomatopoeia. Click below to reveal examples of each from poetry.

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Notice how the repetition of the “w” sound in the first example above adds a weighty, weary tone to the line, reinforcing how the speaker must have felt at midnight, unable to sleep. In the second example, the repetition of the word “tinkle” sounds like the bells themselves ringing over and over.

take notes icon Now think of any subject you like, and use your notes and the guide below to create your own five senses poem. When you are finished, check your understanding to see a sample response.

A photograph of a Red Delicious apple.

Source: Red Delicious, Bangin, Wikimedia

Line 1: Title
Line 2: Tell what it smells like
Line 3: Tell what it looks like
Line 4: Tell what it feels like
Line 5: Tell what it sounds like
Line 6: Tell what it tastes like

Check Your Understanding

Sample Response:

An Apple
Smells like cider.
Looks like a big red ball.
Feels hard and smooth.
Sounds crunchy when you bite into it.
Tastes sweet and juicy.

Notice that the repeated “b” sound, an example of alliteration, helps to describe the apple as being hard and solid. The word “crunchy” is an example of onomatopoeia, a word that sounds like what it means. Try to use onomatopoeia and alliteration in your poem, too!