An analogy is a literary device often used in poetry and literature to show connections between familiar and unfamiliar things, suggest a deeper significance, or create imagery in the reader's mind.
Analogies enable writers to make a quick comparison between two unlike things and identify a common thread between them so the reader can identify the relationship without a lengthy explanation. Below are a few examples:
"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called"
- Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
"As cold waters to a thirsty soul,
So is good news from a far country."
- Proverbs 25:25
"Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
- Macbeth, Act V, William Shakespeare
"They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there. It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water." - "A Hanging," George Orwell
"If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe." - Let Me Count the Ways, Peter De Vries
"Memory is to love what the saucer is to the cup." - The House in Paris, Elizabeth Bowen
"It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo." - Cocktail Time, P.G. Wodehouse
"A nation wearing atomic armor is like a knight whose armor has grown so heavy he is immobilized; he can hardly walk, hardly sit his horse, hardly think, hardly breathe. The H-bomb is an extremely effective deterrent to war, but it has little virtue as a weapon of war, because it would leave the world uninhabitable." - Sootfall and Fallout, E.B. White
In poetry analogies help the writer quickly paint a vivid picture in the reader's mind, while adding a layer of deeper significance. Below are a few examples:
"The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight."
- "The Day Is Done," Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!"
- "There is no frigate like a book," Emily Dickinson
"This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is."
- "The Flea," John Donne
"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."
- "Nothing Gold Can Stay," Robert Frost
"The white mares of the moon rush along the sky
Beating their golden hoofs upon the glass Heavens;
The white mares of the moon are all standing on their hind legs
Pawing at the green porcelain doors of the remote Heavens."
- "Night Clouds," Amy Lowell
"Make me Thy loom then, knit therein this twin;
And make Thy holy spirit, Lord, wind quills;
Then weave the web Thyself. The yarn is fine.
Thine ordinances make my fulling mills.
Then dye the same in heavenly colors choice,
All pinked with varnished flowers of paradise."
- "Huswifery," Edward Taylor
"The evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table"
- "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," T.S. Eliot
"Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did'st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad exposed to public view"
- "The Author to Her Book," Anne Bradstreet