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What Is Anastrophe? (with Examples)

Anastrophe is the deliberate changing of normal word order for emphasis or another rhetorical effect. (A rhetorical effect is any effect that elicits a response from the reader, e.g., causes the reader to pause for thought.)

Examples of Anastrophe

Here are some examples of anastrophe:
  • She stared into the dog's eyes deep and menacing.
  • (Normal order: She stared into the dog's deep and menacing eyes.)
  • On a black cloak sparkle the stars.
  • (Normal order: The stars sparkle on a black cloak.)
  • Bright he was not.
  • (Normal order: He was not bright.)
anastrophe example

Anastrophe Is Figurative Language

When most people think of figurative language, metaphors, similes, personification, hyperbole, idioms, and euphemisms usually come to mind. However, the term "figurative language" also covers unusual or imaginative word constructions. Therefore, it also includes alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia, logosglyphs, and anastrophe.

Yoda's Speech is Anastrophic

"Powerful you have become. The dark side I sense in you." - (Yoda)

"Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is." - (Yoda)

More Examples of Anastrophe

Here are some more examples of anastrophe from literature or famous speeches.
  • "And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: Nine bean-ros will I have there." (Irish poet William Butler Yeats)
  • "Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing." (Writer Edgar Allan Poe)
  • "It only stands our lives upon, to use our strongest hands." (Playwright William Shakespeare)
  • "Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer." (Prime Minister Winston Churchill)
  • "Intelligent she was not. In fact, she veered in the opposite direction." (American writer Max Shulman)

Why Should I Care about Anastrophe?

Breaking the expected word order places emphasis on the misplaced words. Anastrophe is commonly used in poetry, but it has utility outside poetry.
  • "City Beautiful" was a movement in 1890s to introduce beautification and monumental grandeur in US cities.
  • (The expected word order is "Beautiful City." Placing "Beautiful" in the "wrong" place gives it more emphasis.)
If you're analysing someone else's writing and they've used anastrophe, you ought to recognize it.
Ready for the Test?
Here is a confirmatory test for this lesson.

This test can also be:
  • Edited (i.e., you can delete questions and play with the order of the questions).
  • Printed to create a handout.
  • Sent electronically to friends or students.

See Also

What is figurative language? What is assonance? What is consonance? What is a logosglyph? What is alliteration? Glossary of grammatical terms