Thursday , June 30 2022
Figures of Speech

Anastrophe Examples: Anastrophe for Students and Children

After reading any of Shakespeare’s works, have you ever felt like his words are being mixed up? Yes, this is the use of the figure of speech called anastrophe. Derived from the Greek word, anastrophe means ‘turning back or about’. It can be defined as the reversal of the normal word order in a sentence, for emphasis. Usually, an anastrophe is synonymous to a hyperbaton, which is inversion in the occurrence of terms or it could be the addition of words to a sentence that is already complete. But unlike a hyperbaton, an anastrophe typically changes the place of a single word only. Juxtaposition of words and phrases in this figure of speech can sometimes be a little attention-worthy as it causes confusion while the reader is trying to figure out its meaning. A simple example of an anastrophe can be quoted from the play ‘Comedy of Errors’, where Adriana says: ‘Why should their liberty than ours be more?’ Its usage is common in poetry, drama and classical literature written in English, Greek and Latin. Apart from William Shakespeare, some of the most famous users of anastrophe were Gerard Manely Hopkins, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Lewis Carroll and Coleridge and so on.

Examples of Anastrophe


  • The verb occurs before the subject-noun. Example: Glistens the dew upon the morning grass. (Or, the dew glistens upon the morning grass).
  • Adjectives after the noun it modifies. Example: She looked at the sky dark and menacing (Normally written as, she looked at the dark and menacing sky).
  • Object before the verb. Example: Will power, they have. (Otherwise stated as, they have will power).
  • Preposition following object. Example: “Our lives upon, to use Our strongest hands.” (Instead of, upon our lives).

Anastrophe in Literature

  • Lord Byron in Childe Harold:
    “Clear, placid Leman! Thy contrasted lake
    With the wild world I dwelt in.”
  • Max Shulman in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis:
    Gracious, she was. But gracious, I mean full of graces…
    Intelligent, she was not. In fact, she veered in the opposite direction.
  • Natalie Dorsch in Just Because:
    I walked up the door,
    Shut the stairs,
    Said my shoes,
    Took off my prayers,
    Turned off my bed,
    Got into the light,
    All Because,
    You kissed me goodnight.
  • Lewis Carroll in Jabberwocky:
    “Long time the maxnome foe he sought,
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree.”
  • T.S Eliot in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
    “Arms that wrap about a shawl.”
  • Coleridge in Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
    He holds him with his skinny hand,
    “There was a ship,” quoth he.
    “Hold off! Unhand me, grey-beard loon!”
    Eftsoons his hand dropt he.
  • In an inaugural address of John F. Kennedy:
    “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
  • William Wordsworth in A Collected Verse, The Tables Turned.
    Books!’ tis a dull and endless strife:
    Come, hear the woodland linnet,
    How sweet his music! On my life,
    There’s more of wisdom in it.
  • Henry Longfellow in Evageline:
    “This is the forest primeval.”
  • Alexander Pope in Epistle To A Lady:
    “How many pictures of one Nymph we view,
    All how unlike each other, all how true!”

Anastrophe in Films

  • Yoda in Star Wars Episode V – Empire Strikes
    “Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained…This one a long time have I watched…Never his mind on where he was.”
  • Sequence of events in Quentin Taratino’s famous motion picture “Pulp Fiction”. Here, the story starts on January 1st then it shifts to January 3rd and describes the sequence of the events happening there. This is the opposite of a flashback, since the plot moves to the future. Similarly the movie, “Back To The Future”, directed by Robert Zemeckis, portrays a high level of anastrophe.
  • Anastrophe can be symbolized in film as an upsetting of the normal. For example, in the movie ‘Brief Encounter’ by David Lean, a woman is shown contemplating suicide on the rail tracks. As the train approaches, the camera tilts showing her head to the left. She runs in the same diagonal onto the platform and the train moves from the top to the bottom frame. Her face is still tilted and the sounds of the train die down. The tilt then leaves the scene.
  • The depiction of a life turned upside down or ‘inverted’ is also that of an anastrophe. In the film, ‘Kaseki’, directed by Masaki Kobayashi, a man with a stage of incurable cancer is shown in his room. He locks the door and spreads out on his bed, upside down. It is clear from this scene that there has been a ‘turning upside down’ or inversion of his life and values. These are some of the symbols in the movie which appeal to the mind more than the explicit feelings.

Therefore, anastrophe is a common and popular figure of speech that lays emphasis on a particular phrase, sentence, subject, person or event. Although it might not always be necessary, in poetry, it can be added for an effect such as rhyming or versification. Given above are some of the examples of anastrophe that are sure to make a more lively conversation or written piece of work. Use well, this figure of speech!

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