17 Poetry Allusion Examples: What, Why, Where, How, When To Use

An allusion is one of the figures of speech that helps to the poets or writers to utilize the phrase or word to carry something to mind, without mentioning that thing explicitly. It alludes the poetry more effective through special references i.e. a person, place, historical event, or ancient source such as The Bible and from the other literary works.

Poetry Allusion Examples with Explanations

Example #1.

 “ Of Mans, First Disobedience, and the Fruit

Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast

Broght Death into the World, and all our woe,”

 — Paradise Lost (By John Milton)


John Milton’s paradise Lost is an immortal creation in literature. The allusion “Of Mans” is being used in that poem.  

Example #2.

 In Xanadu did Kubala Khan

A stately pleasure —dome decree

Where, Alph, the scared river run.”—Kubala Khan (By S.T. Coleridge)


“Kubala Khan” is used an allusionby the poet, S.T. Coleridge to recall the Founder of Yuan dynasty of China.

Example #3.

 “ Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinix,

Pedestal’d haply in a palace court.” —Hyperion (By John Keats)


Memphian sphinix, is a poetry allusion that is used here by the poet John Keats to call the historical sphinix in Egypt.

Example # 4.

 “  Bright  wandered fair coquette of Heaven

To whom alone it has been given

To change and be adored for ever….” —Lines written in the Bay Of Lerici ( By P.B. Shelley)


“Coquette of Heaven” is a poetry allusion that is used by the poet, P.B. Shelley to create an effective poem.

Example # 5.

 “  O wild West Wind, thou breath of

Autumn’s being

Thou, from whose unseen presence

Leaves dead.”— The West Wind ( P.B.Shelley)


“West Wind” is  wind that is used as a word of allusion in this poem to indicate if the wind what changes could happen.

Example # 6.

 “ I said, ‘It’s certain there is no fair thing

Since Adam’s fall but needs much laboring” —Adam’s Curse ( By W.B. Yeats)


Adam’s fall” is an allusion which is used in the poem by the poet, W.B.Yeats to encourage the impact of using lines.

Example # 7.

“   To see a world in a Grain of sand

And Heaven in a wild flower,

Hold in firmly in the palm of your hand”—Auguries of Innocence (By William Blake)


Grain of sand” is an allusion that indicates the whole world is in changing.

Example # 8.

“  Once upon a midnight dreary, while I

Pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of

Forgotten lore —“

The Raven ( By Edgar Alan Poe)


“Quaint and curious volume” is the phrase that is used here as an allusion in this quotation of lines. The poet, Edgar Alan Poe creates a special impact of thing in this poem.

Example # 9.

“  Bent double, like old beggers under saks,

Knock-knee, coughing like hags, we cursed

Through sludge.”

Dulce et Decorum Est (By Wilfred Owen)


“Old beggers” is used as an allusion in the quotation of lines that indicates the personality of Jessie Pope.

Example # 10.

“  And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,”

Sonnet 18 (By William Shakespeare)


“Summer’s lease” is an allusion being used by the poet, William Shakespeare creates a special thing that is not mentioned the thing explicitly.

Example # 11.

 Rose –cheek’d Adonis tried him to the chase;

Hunting he lov’d, but love he laugh’d to


Venus and Adonis (By William Shakespeare)


“Cheek’d Adonis” is used as an allusion by the author, William Shakespeare in this poem to indicate an effective personality of lover.

Example # 12.

“  In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo-“

Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock ( By T.S. Eliot)


“Michelangelo” is a world’s famous artist and special well known for his painting. In this quotation of lines “Michelangelo” is used an allusion to create a special impact in the poem.

Example # 13.

“  Did squeak and gibber in

The Roman streets:

As stars with trains of fire

And dews of blood,”

Hemlet (By William Shakespeare)


“Stars with trains of fire” is used as allusion by the poet, William Shakespeare to indicate the situation of the Roman Streets that time.

Example # 14.

“That one, the fairest of all Rivers, lov’d

To blend his murmurs with my Nurse’s song

The prelude ( By William Wordsworth)


“Nurse’s song” is used here as an allusion by William Wordsworthto mark the special effectiveness of the love.

Example # 15.

“ Then Belfast, and then


Here’s two on’s are sophisticated,.”

The Ministry of Fear ( By Seamus Heaney)


“Berkeley” is used an allusion to indicate a sophisticated situation by the poet.

“ I know I would not always be

Example # 16.

A child

With a model train and a

Model tunnel,

And I knew I would not live


Writing in the Afterlife ( By Billy Collins)


“A child” is an allusion which is used by the poet to mark a special thing to indicate something without mentioning.

Example # 17.

My cousin’s, he took me our on a sled,

And I was frightened. He said, Marie,

Marie, hold on tight, And down we went

In the mountains, there you feel free.”

The Waste Land (By T.S.Eliot)


“My cousin’s” is used as an allusion. The poet, T.S.Eliot created a special effect through the poem.

Why to use poetry allusion?

Without using allusion, a poet or author cannot create a special impact in the readers’ mind. Any poet or writer wants to use such word or phrase of ancient references which will be more effective or useful for the writing genre.

How to use poetry allusion?

In the literature allusion is used to enhance the text more effective for the readers. By illustrating through the special references the poet and author composes theme ironically or metaphorically in literature.

When to use poetry allusion?

When the poet or author can convey to import ton of information in just one or a few words in the context of poetry.

Where to use poetry allusion?

Poetry allusion is vastly used in the poem and in drama to contextualize the special references into the new text of poetry or drama that can convey a vivid expression throughout the lines or the text.


The Uses of allusions in the poetry or in the drama convey a special effectiveness throughout the text.

Bhabesh Sing

Hi! I am Bhabesh Sing. I have completed M.A in English(IGNOU) and M.A in Vocal Music ( RBU Kolkata) with B.Ed(WBUTTEPA). I am a creative writer. Currently I am a part of the Lambda Geeks.

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