Lesson one



This is a literary device where the writer employs the words ” like, as ” or any other to compare two different ideas. Examples;

  1. He flew like a dove.
  2. Her eyes sparkle like a crystal.
  3. He is acting like a clown.
  4. John is as tall as a tower.
  5. The teacher was as happy as a king.

All the above expressions are similes

Illustration (poem). Read the poem below and identify the similes in it. 

1.2       A MAN OF WORDS

A man of words and not deeds

Is like a garden full of weeds;

And when the weeds begin to grow,

It’s like a garden full of snow;

And when the snow begins to fall,

It’s like a bird upon the wall;

And when the bird does fly away

It’s like an eagle in the sky;

And when the sky begins to roar,

It’s like a lion at the door;

And when the door behind to crack,

It’s like a stick across your back;

And when your back begins to smart,

It’s like a penknife in your heart

And when your heart begins to bleed,

You’re dead, and dead, and dead in deed .


There are seven similes in the poem “A man of words”

The poet uses the similes to make sure the reader understands what kind of person a man who does not keep his word is.

Therefore, similes help the poet make his or her message clearer, develop a theme or humour by bringing out unusual relationship between things.

While identifying a simile, ensure that you understand what the similarity between the two objects or concepts is. In the statement, one has to include what has been compared to what and what the ground of comparison is. For instance;

Peter is like a giraffe. The ground of comparison is height. 



Your head is like a drum that is beaten for spirits.


Your ears are like the fans used for blowing fires.


Your nostril is like a mouse’s den.


Your mouth is like a mound of mud.


Your hands are like drum- sticks.


Your belly is like a pot of rotten water.


Your legs are like stakes.


Your buttocks are like a mountain top.

                                          Traditional Igbo.

1.3       Exercise

Write at least ten sentences with similes 

1.4       METAPHOR

 A metaphor compares one thing to another in order to bring out their similarities. A metaphor does not use “as and like “.

Unlike a simile that makes a direct comparison between one thing and another, a metaphor makes an indirect comparison. Examples

  1. Isaac is tall like a giraffe.
  2. Isaac is a giraffe.

In the first sentence, the speaker makes direct comparison between Isaac and a giraffe: both are tall.

In the second sentence, the speaker makes the same comparison only this time, it’s not so direct. Thus a simile says something is like another thing while a metaphor means something is another thing… Therefore, one has to identify the similarities between the two items being compared. Other examples of metaphors include;

  1. He has a Hyena’s laughter.
  2. His voice was an explosion of sound.
  3. Mary is a snail.
  4. Gilbert is a pig.


Read the poem below and identify what the speaker compares his love for the “you” of the poem to.

Describe the qualities of the items that his love is compared to. 


I love you, my gentle one;

My love is the fresh milk in the rubindi

Which you drank on the wedding day;

My love is the butter we were smeared with

To seal fidelity into our hearts.

You are the cattle – bird’s egg,

For those who saw you are wealthy;

You are the papyrus reed of the lake,

Which they pull out with both hands,

And I sing for you with tears

Because you possess my heart;

I love you, my gentle one.

                                  Ralph Bitamazire.

In the above poem, the poet uses metaphors to develop the theme of love. Milk and butter are highly valued in this community. By comparing the person’s love for the beloved to butter, the poet makes the reader appreciate just how much the “you” of the poem is loved.

A cattle bird’s egg is beautiful. By comparing the “you” of the poem to cattle – bird’s egg, the poet brings out her Beauty more emphatically. 

1.6       Exercise.

Write a three stanza poem with at least five metaphors.