Examples of Hyperbole Poems
Hyperbole is a figure of speech that uses exaggeration for emphasis. Poets use this literary technique to express extremes. Using hyperbole effectively, poets communicate a range of emotions. They often use hyperbole to reinforce astonishment for natural and supernatural phenomena. Hyperbole also lends itself well to the creation of nonsensical humor.
Hyperbole is Timeless
The use of hyperbole is nothing new. Homer used hyperbole frequently when writing his epic poems in order to express the powers of gods and nature. His use of hyperbole enforces the realization that most natural and supernatural forces are beyond any human ability or comprehension. We see examples of this in these lines from The Iliad: “Mars cried out aloud, with such a shout / As if nine thousand or ten thousand men / Should simultaneous raise their battle cry.” And again in the line, “Two winds rose with a cry that rent the air and swept the clouds before them.”
Shakespeare Loves Hyperbole More Than Anything in the World
Shakespeare was very fond of using hyperbole. In "Romeo and Juliet," he exaggerates Juliet’s beauty: "It is the East and Juliet is the Sun!" and "the brightness of her cheek would shame those stars.” In “Antony and Cleopatra,” Cleopatra mourns her dead lover: “His legs bestrid the ocean: his reared arm crested the world.” In "Macbeth," he uses hyperbole to express the depth of guilt Macbeth experiences over the murder of King Duncan “Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No.”
Hyperbole is Deep
Hyperbole is often used to express the depth of emotion. In his 1794 poem, “A Red, Red Rose,” Robert Burns uses hyperbole to symbolize the eternal nature of his love in lines, such as “Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear / And the rocks melt wi' the sun/ O I will love thee still, my dear, / While the sands o' life shall run.” In W.H. Auden’s 1935 poem, “As I Walked Out One Evening,” we see hyperbole in these lines: “I'll love you, dear, I'll love you / Till China and Africa meet, / And the river jumps over the mountain / And the salmon sing in the street.”
Hyperbole is Hilarious
Hyperbole is often used to create humor. Jack Prelutsky uses hyperbole often in his poetry for children. He makes a “pizza the size of a sun” that will take “a year and a half” to bake. Sharon Hendricks illustrates the excesses of the Thanksgiving holiday in this humorous poem: “A mountain of baby carrots / a turkey the size of a cow/ a river full of gravy; / a dog that says meow / every pie known to man / and gallons full of ice cream. / By the time my dinner is over / I surely won’t be lean.”
Debbie McCarson is a former English teacher and school business administrator. Her articles have appeared in "School Librarians’ Journal" and "The Encyclopedia of New Jersey." A South Jersey native, she is a regular contributor to "South Jersey MOM" magazine.