Term: Synecdoche

Synecdoche is the use of a deliberate confusion of scale, in which a poet refers to one thing in terms of a part of it - or in terms of what it is a part of. So a person could be "a sympathetic ear", or the person who was actually speaking when the news reports that "the government said today...". The person is neither just an ear nor the whole government, but using synecdoche to suggest that s/he is heightens that role.

How to use this term

The mysterious arsonist in 'Incident on a Holiday', by Alan Brownjohn, is just "unpoliced fingers", a synecdoche that maintains the mystery with this extreme close-up.

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Daljit Nagra

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation.

Comic Verse

I'm troubled, as you can tell by my introduction, about comic verse. Comic verse gets bad press because rigid notions of comedy foreground throwaway poems. Surely the best comedy is when the poem surprises us into laughter rather than setting up t... >