Resource 1: Poem
Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils
The above poem is a series of similes. (In this case, the series of similes is also a series of insults!) A simile is a comparison, used to highlight certain qualities in a person or thing that is being described. When you read or hear a simile, you picture the ‘mouse’s hole’ (for instance), and that helps you understand something about the nostril. In analysing the simile further, you say to yourself, ‘What is a mouse’s hole like? It is quite big (compared to a nostril). It is dark inside. It is full of messy nests and it is dirty.’ Then we can see more clearly what the poet thinks about the person’s nose!
A simile is an explicit comparison. In other words, the writer or speaker is open about the fact that this is a comparison. A simile, in English, always uses the words ‘like’, or ‘as’, e.g. ‘Your nostril is like a mouse’s hole’ or ‘In the tunnel, it was as black as night.’
If the poet had written ‘Your nostril is a mouse’s hole’ this would have a similar impact, but this kind of comparison is called a metaphor. Here, the comparison is implicit. We are not told that a comparison is being made. The nostril is described as if it is a mouse’s hole.
Original source: Machin, N. African Poetry for Schools: Book 1