A poem-a-day for National Poetry Month

Prompt #09: Metonymy

Today’s prompt brought to us by Shanna Germain:

We hear a lot about similes and metaphors when it comes to poetry, but we don’t often hear about metonymy. Metonymy is, according to Wikipedia, “a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept.” A good example is “drinking” which originally meant “to consume any liquid” and now typically means “to consume alcohol.”

Read all about Metonymy here.

Then read Out, Out by Robert Frost, as an example of a poem using metonymy.

Now, write your poem, either using metonymy for your subject matter or else talking about the idea of how one thing morphs into another through language and expression.


Reminders for Participants: You can post your poem below in the comments, offer a link back to your site where the poem is posted, or comment about the experience of writing the poem (without actually posting the poem). If you’re going to comment on other participant’s poems, please remember that this is not a critique space — comments should be kept thoughtful and supportive. Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the prompt to write your poem — they’re here for your inspiration but they’re certainly not a requirement.

Let the Wild Poeming Being!

36 responses

  1. Ok attempted to understand the prompt this morning without the aid of caffeine.

    Here’s day nine


    April 9, 2011 at 5:05 am

    • Mary Beth Frezon

      Lol. My caffeinated head is still working on it so no worries.

      April 9, 2011 at 6:58 am

  2. dorlamoorehouse

    Skipping the prompt again and posting something I wrote in a workshop last night: http://dorlamoorehouse.com/2011/04/09/napowrimo-day-9-3/

    April 9, 2011 at 5:12 am

    • That’s great, Dorla. One of my favourites of all the good ones I’ve read here.

      April 9, 2011 at 10:34 am

  3. Robin Elizabeth Sampson

    am making an attempt now. and want to apologize to everyone because I’m so far behind in reading everyone’s poems. Part of my commitment this month–to myself–was to read everyone’s poems. Yeah, insane, I know. But there’s been so many good ones!

    April 9, 2011 at 6:39 am

  4. Robin Elizabeth Sampson

    Okay. I needed to get this done early. [insert strangled sound here]


    April 9, 2011 at 7:17 am

    • Very true.

      April 9, 2011 at 10:36 am

  5. Hahaha. This sounded like such a good idea when I came up with it a month ago, and now I can’t even begin to think of something to write…. Eeps.

    April 9, 2011 at 8:41 am

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  7. Here is my poem to the prompt: http://umaathreya.blogsome.com/2011/04/09/the-old-house/

    April 9, 2011 at 9:04 am

  8. Holy metonymy batman. Today’s attempt.


    April 9, 2011 at 9:15 am

    • Bill Noble

      Jesus Christ, Shanna!

      April 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

      • Is that your poem, Bill? 😛

        April 9, 2011 at 11:36 am

        • chloe


          April 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    • WOW Shanna – that was hard to read. As a heart attack survivor, and just losing my dad to one in February, AND just having my heart ripped out by the love of my life…

      Still, amazingly done.

      April 12, 2011 at 6:35 am

  9. Progression

    A miss who is good for a smile.
    A lake blue and clear and not vile.
    A chat that turns ugly and bile.
    A scene that is all in a pile.
    A trial that may take awhile.
    A lawyer unlikely to file.
    A defender not known for her guile.
    A lass whose metonymy shows style.
    A miss is as good as a mile.

    Mary Beth Frezon 9 April 201

    April 9, 2011 at 9:53 am

  10. Pingback: National Poetry Month Day #9

  11. Bill Noble

    For Desiree’s birthday (but not much metonymic –eep).


    We’ve journeyed together ten year’s time,
    certain only of our hands in joining, of mingled
    breath, to arrive at last at what we discover
    as simply an end of places, a sere scant refuge,
    to discover kelp shadowed by trembling wings,
    and a silence loud with incantations.
    Here we are proffered no promise
    but salt and low sky. So take my hand;
    begin again. Set foot with me upon living water.

    April 9, 2011 at 10:12 am

    • Lovely poem, Bill.

      April 9, 2011 at 10:43 am

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  13. I’ve finished my entry for today. I think the poem as a whole is metonymic, but I find it difficult to recognise that particular figure of speech:

    April 9, 2011 at 10:22 am

  14. Oh, nearly a day late and probly more than a dollar short, but here is today’s:

    Spring Tide

    Red crane lifted boat
    in cradle-slung beak, turned,
    but the sea hung back

    (No, I don’t see the metronym either!)

    April 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

  15. Jennifer P-W.

    Day nine of my Poem-A-Day path: Not really to any prompt, other than my teenage daughter’s casual dismissal to the whole Woman’s Rights/Liberation movement that came about during my life.

    To A Young Woman: Don’t Look!

    Was told,was told:
    XX chromosomes
    can’t do math.
    Guys don’t make passes at girls
    who wear glasses.
    Don’t look outside the
    corral of marriage.
    Don’t think about
    becoming a priest!
    A man, God’s (capital G) man
    can excommunicate you
    right out of the house.
    Hey, you need this product
    to be desirable!

    Am saying and saying:
    My daughter,
    don’t accept rage, blame,
    even indifference lightly; instead,
    fix a spotlight on them.
    Reveal them for the slumps, the slaps,
    the piecemeal put-downs
    that hound you so often,
    you no longer notice.

    April 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm

  16. b_y

    Not sure I got it
    Rock Candy Night

    April 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm

  17. I decided to put concrete shoes on subtlety and throw it in the lake.


    As boots are made for walking
    and daggers made to kill
    as words are meant for talking
    the confuson hounds us still;

    Do the words do all the talking?
    Does a dagger make the stab?
    Can a boot make prints unaided
    by a foot? a leg? a man?

    Where do we stop?
    It’s turtles all the way up.

    (“And if I seem to act unkind
    It’s only me, it’s not my mind
    that is confusing things.”)

    April 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm

  18. Long day. Best a tired mind can do. Nice prompt, though, Shanna. (I like a challenge.)

    Into Ploughshares

    If only tongue could tell,
    in subtle words, a story
    to which you might lend an ear,
    perhaps that lamb and lion
    might lay down in the dark
    forests of the night,
    and lay to rest the endless
    march to death.

    April 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

  19. Kinda stumbled onto a metronym without thinking:

    I think the idea’s decent, but the expression needs work.

    April 9, 2011 at 6:15 pm

  20. Kam Leitner

    Lost in the ether
    words meaning else
    My misunderstanding

    April 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm

  21. Nick Gerund knew that the time had come
    to lay the hammer down
    Metallic and meddling, yet it shone true mettle
    While he drove at something dancing around words
    Punching the clock of obsequiousness
    Ground into hamburger

    April 9, 2011 at 6:55 pm

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  23. My offering for today:

    April 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm

  24. Consideration

    First thing is, you separates the good meats
    From the bad meats
    And give the bad meats to the hogs
    They don’t know no better so don’t think on it too much
    Then save the good meats for cousins and good company
    Of all sorts, church people and such

    Give smart attention to the shoes you might wear

    Prepare for talking with a visit to the barber
    And pick out some long words
    With some news of the day, such as floods
    But remember there is no need to take the chair for a cut
    The barber himself will understand you dropping in for a visit
    Even still, a money tip is a good gesture always

    Emily, at the Stop and Shop, knows how to tie a tie

    Welcome each with a handshake and your eye
    Offer punch, point to the good meats
    But do not linger too long on any one arrival in the hall
    Circle the room, keep everyone’s eye, and check the locks twice
    And when the gathered are complete, take the axe from drawer
    Then move slowly, with deliberation, and smile

    Next thing is, separate the good meats from the bad meats

    April 9, 2011 at 8:38 pm

  25. This prompt has outed me for my lack of technical training. I think I got there, though.

    Sunday morning talking heads
    Gas about the latest bespoke crisis
    From the folks who brought us
    Death panel calumny and
    Birther clacques

    I drink my coffee
    Eat my bagel
    Listen to the other
    Clack, the one who works with Click
    Gas about the price of

    April 9, 2011 at 9:38 pm

  26. Kosuke Miyata

    Myday 9 offering:


    There are these moments when roads come back to me,
    the roads we’ve trodden and then forgotten, still
    surviving in a strange form of memory,

    mirage metonymy. A long bright downhill
    I saw on your back, a fork on a page of a book, –
    they reach me like drafts of wind past the windowsill

    and fade like details of a dream when I look.
    I wonder where we are on those roads today
    beyond all these thunderclouds, what turns we took.

    (The downpour made us stay and washes away
    the dust of yesterday from the empty street
    imperfectly reflecting the flux of gray.)

    Come feel the solid sidewalk under your feet,
    and breathe the scent of wet concrete fleeting and sweet.

    Cherry blossoms are unfolding in southern Tohoku now. When we talk about “hanami” (literally “blossom viewing”), it means cherry blossom viewing in most parts of Japan. I wondered if there can be a “private” metonymy that’s sharable on its own. I guess every poet has certain words in his/her lexicon whose functions are more metonymic than metaphoric to him/her, if not universally accepted. Thanks Shanna, this was a deep-digging prompt.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:01 am