3 Steps to Writing an Allegorical Poem

By Ellen Gwin

Allegorical Poetry:
An allegorical poem is a poem that holds two meanings: one should be able to read the poem for both a literal and a symbolic meaning. In literature, allegories typically fall with three categories: religious, political, or historical.

What’s the difference between an allegory and an extended metaphor?
In an allegory, all characters, places and objects become linked with figurative symbolism within the extended metaphor. It’s kind of like creating an alternate universe with rules linked to rules of the reality of your story (religious event, political event, historical event, etc).

Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene
George Orwell’s Animal Farm
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Emily Dickinson’s poem 479
Dante’s Divine Comedy

Step 1: Choose your idea
Whether it be morality, religion, politics, a historical event: choose an idea to model your symbolic story after.

Step 2: Plan out the literal story first
Who are important figures related to your chosen idea?
What are important events related to your chosen idea?
Where are important settings related to your chosen idea?

Step 3: Create your surface story
Create a surface story (the alternate universe) that you can easily find correlations with.
The story can be set in a different time period, a fantasy universe, on a smaller scale (i.e. a family to represent a country), etc.

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