Simile: A figure of speech involving a comparison between two unlike entities. In the simile, unlike the metaphor, the resemblance is explicitly indicated by the words “like” or “as.” The common heritage of similes in everyday speech usually reflects simple comparisons based on the natural world or familiar domestic objects, as in “He eats like a bird,” “He is as smart as a whip,” or “He is as slow as molasses.” In some cases the original aptness of the comparison is lost, as in the expression “dead as a doornail.”
Example: In Mine, Steve Collis provides us with a well-constructed simile in Shaft Three’s “Tailings: Euphoria”:
like miners attempting unions in lightless
like stones found to contain fires unactualized
like the deep pockets time has for its hostages
like a sexy pickaxe swing
like light headed gas prophecies of spectral Communism
like how much cash I can pull in
like mine shafts flooded hidden abandoned still there
like memory beneath calm city surfaces today (56)
Collis’ careful word selection does more than merely assert the actions and comparisons in the passage but also draws the reader’s attention to the life of the miners. The comparisons allow the readers imagination to expand and explore. Asserting the life of a miner, giving the chance for the reader to close his or her eyes and experience each word and moment. Stephen Collis unveils the history; down into dark depths of coal mining on Vancouver Island, “This is their story. I mine it as I write it”.
“Simile.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. Web. 12 Feb. 2011.
Collis, Stephen. Mine. Vancouver: New Star, 2001. Print.