Literary Devices vs. Poetic Devices

What's the Difference?

Literary devices and poetic devices are both tools used by writers to enhance their works, but they differ in their specific applications. Literary devices encompass a broader range of techniques, including figures of speech, symbolism, irony, and foreshadowing, among others. These devices are employed in various forms of writing, such as novels, short stories, and plays, to convey deeper meanings and engage readers. On the other hand, poetic devices are more specific to poetry and focus on the rhythmic and aesthetic aspects of language. These devices include rhyme, meter, alliteration, assonance, and imagery, which are used to create musicality, evoke emotions, and enhance the overall beauty of the poem. While both literary and poetic devices serve to enrich the written word, their distinct purposes and applications make them unique in their own right.


AttributeLiterary DevicesPoetic Devices
DefinitionTechniques used in literature to create specific effects or convey meaning.Techniques used in poetry to create specific effects or convey meaning.
ExamplesSimile, metaphor, personification, irony, foreshadowingAlliteration, rhyme, meter, enjambment, onomatopoeia
FunctionEnhance the overall meaning, mood, or theme of a literary work.Enhance the overall meaning, rhythm, or musicality of a poem.
UsageFound in various forms of literature such as novels, short stories, plays, etc.Found specifically in poetry.
EffectCan evoke emotions, create vivid imagery, add depth to characters or plot.Can create rhythm, enhance the musicality, add emphasis or create specific effects in a poem.

Further Detail


Literary devices and poetic devices are essential elements in the world of literature and poetry. They both serve to enhance the overall impact and effectiveness of a piece of writing, but they differ in their specific applications and effects. In this article, we will explore the attributes of literary devices and poetic devices, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Literary Devices

Literary devices are techniques and structures used by writers to convey their message, evoke emotions, and create a deeper understanding of the text. These devices can be found in various forms of literature, including novels, short stories, plays, and essays. Some common literary devices include:

  • Metaphor: A figure of speech that compares two unrelated things, often using "is" or "was" to imply a resemblance. For example, "Her smile was a ray of sunshine."
  • Simile: Similar to a metaphor, but uses "like" or "as" to make a comparison. For example, "He ran as fast as a cheetah."
  • Personification: Giving human qualities or characteristics to inanimate objects or abstract ideas. For example, "The wind whispered through the trees."
  • Symbolism: The use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. For example, a dove symbolizing peace.
  • Irony: A contrast between what is expected and what actually happens. For example, a fire station burning down.

These literary devices add depth and complexity to the writing, allowing readers to engage with the text on multiple levels. They can evoke emotions, create vivid imagery, and convey abstract concepts in a more tangible way.

Poetic Devices

Poetic devices, on the other hand, are specific techniques used in poetry to enhance the rhythm, sound, and meaning of the words. These devices are often more focused on the musicality and aesthetic qualities of the language. Some common poetic devices include:

  • Rhyme: The repetition of similar sounds at the end of words, creating a musical effect. For example, "cat" and "hat."
  • Alliteration: The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. For example, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."
  • Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds within words. For example, "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain."
  • Meter: The rhythmic pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. For example, iambic pentameter.
  • Enjambment: The continuation of a sentence or phrase from one line of poetry to the next without a pause. For example, "I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high o'er vales and hills."

Poetic devices are crucial in creating the unique musicality and flow of poetry. They help establish the rhythm, emphasize certain words or ideas, and enhance the overall aesthetic experience of the reader.


While literary devices and poetic devices have distinct purposes and applications, they also share some similarities. Both types of devices aim to enhance the effectiveness and impact of a piece of writing. They provide writers with tools to engage readers, evoke emotions, and convey complex ideas in a more accessible manner.

Furthermore, both literary and poetic devices rely on the creative and intentional use of language. They require writers to think critically about their choice of words, sentence structure, and overall composition. Whether it's a novel or a poem, the skillful use of devices can elevate the quality of the writing and captivate the audience.


Despite their similarities, literary devices and poetic devices differ in their specific applications and effects. Literary devices are more commonly found in prose writing, such as novels and essays, where the focus is on storytelling and conveying ideas. They help create vivid imagery, develop characters, and explore themes in a comprehensive manner.

On the other hand, poetic devices are primarily used in poetry, where the emphasis is on the musicality and aesthetic qualities of the language. Poets often employ rhyme, meter, and other devices to create a specific rhythm and flow, enhancing the overall impact of their work. The concise and condensed nature of poetry allows for a more concentrated and intense use of these devices.

Additionally, literary devices tend to be more explicit and direct in their use, while poetic devices often rely on subtlety and suggestion. Literary devices may be used to convey a specific message or theme, while poetic devices can evoke emotions and create multiple layers of meaning through their sound and rhythm.


Literary devices and poetic devices are essential tools in the writer's arsenal, allowing them to craft compelling and impactful pieces of literature and poetry. While literary devices focus on conveying ideas and creating vivid imagery, poetic devices emphasize the musicality and aesthetic qualities of the language. Both types of devices serve to engage readers, evoke emotions, and enhance the overall experience of the audience. By understanding and utilizing these devices effectively, writers can elevate their work to new heights and leave a lasting impression on their readers.

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