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Monday, August 30, 2021

Apostrophe – Literary Terms

Apostrophe, Literary Terms

Apostrophe – Literary Terms

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The device, usually in POETRY, of calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person, or to a place, thing, or personified abstraction either to begin a poem or to make a dramatic break in thought somewhere within the poem. In these lines from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Lord Byron twice breaks into his description of a stormy night in the Alps to call out to the night:


The sky is changed! --and such a change! Oh night,

And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,

Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light

Of a dark eye in woman! Far along,

From peak to peak, the rattling crags among

Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,

But every mountain now hath found a tongue

And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,

Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud!

And this is in the night-most glorious night!

Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be

A sharer in thy fierce and far delight

A portion of the tempest and of thee!


An apostrophe asking a god or goddess for inspiration, especially at the beginning of an EPIC, is an invocation. John Milton begins Paradise Lost with the invocation, "Sing, Heavenly Muse."

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