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Like metaphors, similes are examples of figurative language. A simile explicitly compares one thing to something else, often naming the quality which makes the two separate things alike (i.e. 'She is as fierce as a tiger'). The key words which you will find in similes are 'as' and 'like'.

See how well you can spot the similes which the poets quoted in this quiz have used.

Which of the following lines from Lord Byron's poem, 'The Destruction of Sennacherib', includes a simile?
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating turf
Which of the following lines from U.A. Fanthorpe's poem, 'Men on Allotments', includes a simile?
As mute as monks, tidy as bachelors
They manicure their little plots of earth
Pop music from their little council house estate
Counterpoints with the Sunday-morning bells
This line has two similes, in fact!
Which of the following lines from Theodore Roethke's poem, 'The Visitant', includes a simile?
Slow, slow as a fish she came
Swaying in a long wave
Her skirts not touching a leaf
Her white arms reaching towards me
Which of the following lines from Emily Dickinson's poem, 'A Bird came down the Walk', includes a simile?
He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad
They looked like frightened beads, I thought
He stirred his velvet head
The beads are personified - being inanimate, they cannot literally feel fear, but a bird's bead-like eyes can show fear
Which of the following lines from Robert Frost's poem, 'Gathering Leaves', contains a simile?
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons
And bags full of leaves
Are as light as balloons
Which of the following lines from Edwin Muir's poem, 'The Horses', includes a simile?
And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness
The tractors lie about our fields; at evening
They look like dank sea-monsters couched and waiting
We leave them where they are and let them rust
Which of the following lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', contains a simile?
The bride hath paced into the hall
Red as a rose is she
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy
The word 'as' is a good clue that you have found a simile.  The line above means 'as red as a rose'
Which of the following lines from John Keats's poem, 'To Autumn', contains a simile?
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook
The word 'like' is often used in similes.  Autumn is like a 'gleaner', someone who gathers the last few grains after a field has been harvested
Which of the following lines from Dahlia Ravikovich's poem, 'The Blue West', includes a simile?
On one of the days to come
The eye of the sea will darken
In that hour all the mass of the earth
Will be stretched out like a sail
Which of the following lines from W.E. Henley's poem, 'Invictus', includes a simile?
Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Using language effectively

Author:  Sheri Smith

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