Posted in Victoria C. Slotto, Writers' Fourth Wednesday, Writing

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday–Allegory


Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

The great Italian poet, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is best known for his Divine Comedy, an extensive poem in which the reader, guided by Virgil and Beatrice, journeys on a pilgrimage to hell, purgatory and heaven. This vast work, in poetic form that is divided into Cantos, is one of a number of literary gems that we categorize as an allegory.

Put simply, an allegory is an extended metaphor. As we all know, metaphor is a commonly used device in our poetic toolbox—an image that stands in for, or symbolizes something else. In choosing to write an allegorical poem, Dante recognized that everything in his poem needed to be metaphorical.

His skill may be seen in the subtlety of his use of these representations. In the Middle Ages, playwrights, painters and other artists turned to allegory. Biblical scholars recognized passages of both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as allegorical. Characters named Lust or Greed inhabited the stage of morality plays.

Dante was not so obvious about it. He introduced us to lust, for example, in the characters of Paolo and Francesca, who share the story of their fall into adultery with the pilgrim. In addition, Dante created punishments for each circle of hell that fit the sin leading the lost soul to damnation. For example, in his hell, those who sinned by lust spent eternity whirling around in a dark wind.

Artists in all genres have turned to allegory. Consider such contemporary works as “Star Trek,” “Avatar,” or the “The Lord of the Rings.”

To give an example of an allegorical poem, I am choosing one of my own in order to escape accidental copyright infringement. You may remember it from a previous post on my blog:

glory garden

Alternate Uses for a Steak Knife

I know better
than to dig blindly
in the tool box.

The knife—
sharp as it was
the day he died

ten years ago.
A bit of rust next
to the handle

crusted with dirt.
I can see him

beside the Sago
Palm, uprooting
stubborn weeds,

opening boxes,
slicing through
years of crap

to get at truth.
Then he would
sharpen the blade.

Listen carefully,
hear the song
of steel meeting flint.

That last time,
could he guess that
I would bleed?

In writing this, I could have chosen the title “Grief,” or “Mourning my Father.” Instead, I elected to trust the reader to figure out for himself the meaning hidden within the symbolism that I offered.

For today’s prompt, let’s visit allegory. Here are a few ways you might approach it:

• Write your own allegorical poem or short prose. Remember: extended metaphor. But I suggest you keep it briefer than Dante’s!
• Write about an already-written allegory. You might check out Dante or do a Google search on allegory.
• In our age, many have different understandings of what the hell or heaven means. Or purgatory, for that matter. Maybe you’ll enjoy writing your own allegory about this topic.
• Find a piece of allegorical art—they’re out there—and write an ekphrasis about it.
• Try a short piece of poetic, allegorical narrative.
• Check out the Bible or another sacred text for allegory and use that as a starting point.

If you’re able to join us: Write your poem or prose; Post it on your blog or website; Click on Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and enter your name and the direct URL of your post; Visit other poets’ work if you like and offer a comment while you’re at it.  Have fun.


Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia, Excalibur

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Victoria’s poetry collection is  Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on August 27. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. If you find Mister Linky too cumbersome to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 



RN, former hospice nurse, kidney transplant survivor, spiritual seeker, novelist, poet—Victoria C. Slotto is the author of two novels: "Winter is Past" and "The Sin of His Father", a collection of poetry: "Jacaranda Rain," and a Kindle Single: "Beating the Odds--Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia, " all of which are available in e-book and print formats. Use the link on my blog or visit my website at to purchase. Thank you!

8 thoughts on “Writers’ Fourth Wednesday–Allegory

  1. Big bird

    You were on the plane that day.
    flying over those ‘troubled skies’
    wearing those dark RayBan glasses that you used to
    tuck into your full top’s vee
    making other’s eyes fall out –
    both silly men and women –
    looking out at the clouds that swirled
    happy with your high flying life
    that you had built up with your ability to con
    but when the MH17 was blown up in a second
    by a BUV missile from the ground –
    by Russia, or Ukraine, or ethnic
    war -, flashing up into the suddenly unsettled deathly sky
    “in that moment of final despair”
    it was me you saw standing there
    You reached out your hand asking for help
    but help does not exist in the sky
    Stephen or Sebastian, both do not live there –
    one was stoned and one died with love’s arrows stuck in him –
    and in that last second before you died
    you wished that things between us had been different
    but it was too late
    and the smoke stung your eyes
    so the tears you shed were of sorrow and death
    Agnetha, I wish when you had
    the chance you had opened your sea-green eyes
    to see that one may be greater than many
    to not destroy and use the one who
    wanted to be destroyed, knowing it is not meet
    to steal from the mouth of a laughing child
    its candy and give to the rich after stealing from the poor
    with the many you opted for
    It’s true you had a wonderful backside
    and you sang like a beauty with great style
    Agnetha, but does that suffice?
    When the skies fall apart
    nothing will start
    to spread itself for you to rest your seat
    as you found out to your own surprise
    May you rest well now in your demise.


  2. Victoria I’m late to your prompt but did enjoy writing for it. But am not really sure if what I wrote was allegory or not…somehow I couldn’t quite get clear on what I should be writing. Please advise!


  3. Ampat, a deeply touching, sad poem. Using the second person made it even more tragic. I think this reminds us that we never know what can happen to us in an instant and how important it is to not leave things unmended. Thankb you for sharing.


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