I am neither an authority in literature nor a learned man. But I enjoy reading literature, specifically in English and Samskrt. And there is a particular figure of speech, called Simile that I really enjoy reading. There are some great examples of Similes employed by great authors with imaginative ingenuity that I have not only read but ruminated again and again like chewing of cud by a cow, that I thought I would share them with you all.
But before we proceed with the examples, Let us learn what Simile is and why is it so special.
Simile is a figure of speech (method) that compares two different things; usually employed by the author to explain a thing (new) by comparing it with another thing (usually well known or easily understood).
For example, to explain the shape of the Earth, we may compare it with the shape of an Egg.
Now, unlike Science or History where the authors or proponents are expected to prove their findings with unquestionable evidences, in literature the author has freedom to employ his own exaggerations without worrying about the validity of the examples. The idea is to bring out the essence of the subject rather than the authenticity of the example employed.
To illustrate the imaginative ingenuity of poets on how they have used their freedom to employ implausible but highly appealing ideas, I will quote here one couplet from a popular Tamil work, Thirukkural (Tamil to English Translation of Tirukkural), written by the famous poet Thiruvalluvar:
வலியில் நிலைமையான் வல்லுருவம் பெற்றம்
புலியின்தோல் போர்த்துமேய்ந் தற்று.
Meaning in Tamil: மனத்தைத் தன்வழிப்படுத்தும் வல்லமையில்லாதவனது வலிய தவத்தோற்றமானது, பசுவானது புலித்தோலைப் போர்த்திக் கொண்டு பயிரை மேய்ந்ததை ஒத்ததாகும்.
Meaning in English: Vaunting sainthood while week within Seems a grazer with tiger skin.
Here the poet uses an unrealistic but highly appropriate example of a Cow in the disguise of a Tiger by covering its body with the skin of a Tiger. It is obvious that the readers are aware that such a phenomenon does not occur in real world; however, the reader, as in the words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with the willing suspension of disbelief, enjoys the essence without questioning the authenticity of the example employed.
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