Words : literary devices

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Words is a notable literary work by Sylvia Plath. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Words.

literary devices

Sylvia Plath‘s (1932 – 1963) poem “Words” employs several literary devices to fetch emotions. Here are some key literary devices used in the poem.

Literary Devices


Plath uses vivid and sensory language to create images in the reader’s mind. For example, “The sap Wells like tears,” and “A white skull, Eaten by weedy greens.” These images help evoke strong emotions and enhance the reader’s connection to the poem.


The poem contains metaphors that compare various elements to other things. For example, “The sap Wells like tears” compares the sap’s movement to tears, and “A white skull, Eaten by weedy greens” metaphorically describes the decay of an object.


The poem personifies words by describing them as “dry and riderless” and using phrases like “indefatigable hoof-taps.” This personification gives words a sense of life and motion.


Plath employs alliteration, the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words, to create rhythm and musicality. For example, “Wells like tears” and “Wood rings.”


The repetition of words like “Echoes” and “Words” emphasizes their importance in the poem and reinforces their impact.


Wood Rings and Echoes

The poem’s opening lines introduce the concept of wood rings and echoes. Wood rings can symbolize the passing of time, like the rings in a tree trunk, each representing a year. Echoes represent the lingering effects of past actions and words, which continue reverberating in one’s life.


The sap, welling like tears, is seen as a symbol of the speaker’s emotional depth and inner life. It reflects the idea of emotions and memories welling up within a person, like tears.

Water and Mirror

The water striving to re-establish its mirror over the rock symbolizes the constant effort to maintain one’s self-image and identity, even when faced with obstacles and challenges.

White Skull

The image of the white skull being eaten by weedy greens can symbolize the inevitability of death and decay. It also suggests the persistence of life and growth even in the face of mortality.


The “indefatigable hoof-taps” can symbolize the relentless passage of time, the constant march of history, and the persistence of memory and echoes of the past.

Fixed Stars

The fixed stars at the bottom of the pool may symbolize eternal and unchanging truths or guiding principles that remain constant amid life’s changes and uncertainties.