What Is Synesthesia In Poetry

What is Synesthesia in Poetry

Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon that enables the brain to perceive two unrelated senses simultaneously. An example of this is when tasting a certain food makes the taster feel a certain color. Many people who experience synesthesia can describe their impressions with remarkable detail and accuracy. This ability has become highly valued in the field of poetry, and as such, synesthesia has been adopted as a unique poetic device.
Synesthesia in poetry gives the reader a unique, vivid, and direct sensory experience with words. Through the creative use of words, poets have the ability to communicate feelings in a more meaningful way. In the early days of poetry, synesthesia was a tool used to engage and evoke emotion in readers. However, its use has evolved and now serves to give the audience an imaginative experience.
The use of synesthesia can be found as far back as Homer’s writing in The Odyssey. In the 19th century, Lord Byron’s writing was known to have extensive use of synesthesia, particularly in his poem “She Walks in Beauty” where he uses the concept to describe the beauty of the poem’s subject. Another great poet who frequently used synesthesia was W.B. Yeats, who in his poem “The Song Of Wandering Aengus” explained “That broke a boundary line of light”.
Modern day poets also use synesthesia to add another layer of meaning to their work. One example is Carol Ann Duffy, whose poem “The Sirens” makes use of visual and aural elements in order to convey a unique sensory experience with words. In other works, poetry can be used to create a full sensory experience, such as in the poem “Dream Catcher” by BillyCollins, who describes the process of dreaming as a “castelike structure erected in the sky”.
The concept of synesthesia can also be found in popular music and other forms of art. From the “shimmery shades” of the sky in Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”, to the “yellow quickening in the air” of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”, the use of synesthesia has become commonplace in the arts.
Synesthesia in poetry is a powerful tool with which to communicate unique and vivid sensory experiences with words. It has been used by the great poets throughout history, and is still present in popular music and many other forms of art. It is an essential tool for contemporary poets who want to engage and evoke emotion in their readers and create a unique experience.

The Benefits of Synesthesia in Poetry

Synesthesia in poetry offers many benefits to both the writer and reader. It adds another layer of meaning to the piece and provides the audience with a more direct sensory experience. It adds novelty and complexity to the work and can be used to engage the reader with vivid descriptions. Additionally, the use of synesthesia can make writing more interesting and help the writer to communicate their ideas more effectively.
The creative use of words allows the author to more fully depict scenes and emotions and gives the reader a greater understanding of the writer’s intentions. In works such as “The Sirens” by Carol Ann Duffy and “Dream catcher” by Billy Collins, the use of synesthesia allows the author to invoke a full sensory experience, which is both engaging and vivid.
Synesthesia also serves to make the piece more emotionally powerful. By providing detailed sensory descriptions, the reader is able to connect on a deeper level with the work, and this can help to evoke strong emotions. This can be found in the works of Lord Byron, where the vivid descriptions of beauty enable the reader to feel connected to the poem’s subject on an emotional level.
Overall, synesthesia can be a very effective tool in poetry, providing the author with the ability to connect with their readers in a meaningful way.

Synesthesia in Poetry: How to use it Effectively

Using synesthesia in poetry can be a challenging task, especially for those who are just starting out. In order to use synesthesia effectively, it’s important to first understand the concept and how it works.
When using synesthesia, it’s important to use words that evoke the desired sensory experience. For example, if the writer wants to convey the feeling of a cold summer night, then words such as “icy” or “shivering” would be more appropriate than words like “warm” or “soft”.
It’s also important to be mindful of the tone of the writing. Synesthesia can evoke powerful emotions, but it’s important to make sure that the author’s intent is being communicated correctly. For example, if a poet wishes to create a feeling of joy, then they should use words like “glittering” or “brilliant”, rather than somber words such as “dismal” or “dark”.
Finally, the use of metaphors and images can also help to create a more vivid sensory experience. Instead of simply saying something like “it was hot”, the use of a metaphor such as “the sun felt like a furnace” can add depth and detail to the piece, and therefore make it more engaging.

The Limitations of Synesthesia in Poetry

Although synesthesia is an effective tool for poets, there are also some limitations. One of the biggest issues is that it can be difficult to accurately portray the desired sensory experience, as the writer and reader may have different interpretations of the same words.
Additionally, when using synesthesia to evoke a particular emotion in the reader, the writer must be careful not to be too heavy-handed. Overuse of synesthesia can make a piece of poetry feel over- dramatic, and this can make it difficult to connect with the readers.
Finally, synesthesia can be a difficult tool to master, and it takes practice to be able to use it effectively. As such, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those who are just starting out in the world of poetry.


Synesthesia in poetry is an effective tool with which to evoke strong emotions in the reader. It can be used to create powerful imagery and a full sensory experience. However, it is important to remember that it can be easy to overuse synesthesia, and it is important to use it in moderation in order to create the best possible result. Additionally, it is important to understand how synesthesia works and to be mindful of the tone of the writing. With practice and patience, synesthesia can be used to great effect in any form of poetry.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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