Imagery and the Imagist Movement
  • Aug 2021
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Imagery and the Imagist Movement

28th August 2021

Literary criticism makes extensive use of this device known as Imagery which means to create images of something in the mind of readers through intelligent use of words. Research paper writing on the topic have hinted at various uses to make the poetry concrete and not abstract. Therefore, Imagery plays a vital role in the literary field.


This is one of the most frequently used words in literary criticism and can refer to a variety of meanings. Imagery has its applications ranging from the mental pictures created in the reader's mind while he is reading a piece of work. The reader experiences these pictures in the totality of the components that make up a poem.


In his Poetic Image, Cecil Day-Lewis says that a picture is made up of words and that a poem is itself an image made up of smaller images. Thus, Imagery refers to the poetic device or specifically figurative language that appeals to the readers' senses. In literature, this appeal is rendered in the form of words.


The poet uses such images that the reader gets sensations affecting either of our five sense organs. In such a way, Imagery can be classified into five types, which are essential to be remembered by students seeking assignment help:


  • Visual Imagery:  The most clearly understood form of Imagery is visual Imagery. When the poet or the writer of a piece of work uses this device, he intends to appeal to the visual senses of the readers by writing a combination of such words that create an exact picture in the reader's mind. Such Imagery is used so that the reader may get the poem's essence in the most beautiful sense by having a blurred picture of the scene the poet wishes to convey. The American poet Robert Frost made great use of such imageries in his work- his poems like Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Road not Taken, Mending Wall are all abundant in it. An example of this Imagery can be seen in the following line from Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep…." Frost presents a clear picture of the woods in other lines and tries to take his readers themselves into the woods. While he is traveling the woods, he also wants the readers to have the same experience. In such a manner, they would relate to the poem's essence more than ever.


  • Auditory Imagery: This Imagery appeals to the sense of hearing of the reader. The use of this Imagery is in the poet's ability to produce the sound of certain things in the form of words and make the readers understand this sound. Although it seems easy, the employment of this technique is itself a big task at hand. The poet has to use such words that create the effect of the sound; thus, he may use literary devices such as onomatopoeia or alliteration to create the effect. Let us again go back to Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, there he makes use of the auditory Imagery in the lines- "The only other sound's the sweep/ Of easy wind and dowry flake…." Using these lines, Frost tries to describe the silence of the woods. Another technique may be using the sounds of particular objects (onomatopoeia) like hisss for a snake, buzz for a bee, and the like.


  • Tactile Imagery: Imagery appeals to the sense of touch of the reader. The way objects are described in the poem makes the reader feel that he can touch the object and feel the texture without actually touching it. This also includes several other sensations that a person experiences while they touch something. Understanding and feeling the temperature difference is also a part of tactile Imagery. If we go back to Frost's After Apple-Picking, we get an example of this Imagery in the lines- "I feel the ladder sway…", "…fruit to touch…."


  • Olfactory Imagery: This Imagery appeals to the sense of smell of an individual. We all that the scent of something immediately sends sensations to our mind but writing about such sensations becomes a difficult task. Adding to this, sometimes it can be confused with gustatory Imagery since smell and taste are the same. While using this Imagery in a poem, the simile is the most common device used to establish comparisons. After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost has again used this type of Imagery in the line- "…smell of apples…."


  • Gustatory Imagery: This imagery appeal to the sense of taste of an individual. It also includes flavors. Since we deal with the taste, we need to know about the five basic tastes- sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami, and the sensations associated with taste. Mending Wall by Frost has an example of this Imagery in the line- "…and eat the cones under his pine…."


  • Kinesthetic Imagery: Derived from the word kinetic, this Imagery links itself to the sensations of movement. Any action that has to be shown happening in the poem is done using this Imagery. For example, in Mending Wall by Frost, the Imagery appears in the lines- "that sends the frozen ground swell under it…", "bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top…."


Imagism flourished in England and America between 1912 and 1917 and was essentially a poetic movement. The movement gained more impetus in America and was later exemplified at the hand of London's English and American writers. Imagism originated as a reactionary movement to Romanticism, the Victorian age writing, and briefly emphasized the clarity of expression, simplicity of language, and thought and precision through exact images portrayed through words.


Although its origin can be credited to Ezra Pound, its ideas were based on the thoughts of the English poet and philosopher T. E. Hulme. Hulme focused on presenting the subject of poetry in the manner of words- fewer words and more essence, words that convey the exact image.


When given a brief look, these poems are usually short ones with smaller words, words that convey the image the poet is trying to portray correctly. Thus, they can be the successors of poems of ancient Greek lyricists and Japanese Haiku.


Thus, these types of Imagery add up to the beauty and essence of the poems and are sufficient to offer assignment help to students of literature. Various research papers on literary criticism have stated that Imagery may sometimes signify specific figurative languages like metaphor and simile. Overall, literary critics have stated that Imagery is an essential component in poetry and a significant factor in poetic structure, meaning, and effects.



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