How do you clarify that something is not a metaphor in a poem?

There was a forest in the sky

A beautiful green lush forest

I could fly to it with my angel wings

How do you clarify that the forest is actually hovering in the sky and it's not a metaphor? In a poem or a novel?

  • I think a poem would be really hard, but in a novel, there's enough length and non-poetic writing that you should be taken literally when you discuss the character preening their feathers in the descriptions. I got nothing on the poem part, though.
    – DWKraus
    May 21, 2021 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


Interpretation of prose is the province of the reader.

In prose, the more generic or general or abstract a description, the more likely it is to be interpreted by the reader as a metaphor.

The more specific and concrete the prose, the more likely it is to be interpreted literally.

Words like forest are generic and not specific. Pines trees is more specific, and Populus tremuloides is very specific — Aspen Trees.

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