Literary Devices in Fame is a Fickle Food by Emily Dickinson

Literary devices in Fame is a Fickle Food

“Fame is a Fickle Food” by Emily Dickinson is a poem that highlights the transient and unpredictable nature of fame. It suggests that fame can provide temporary satisfaction and validation, but it can also be burdensome and fleeting. The poem encourages reflection on the true sources of fulfillment and questions the value of seeking external validation through fame. In this article, we’ll add all the literary devices in Fame is a Fickle Food

Fame is Fickle Food by Emily Dickinson

Fame is a fickle food,

Served on a shifting plate.

It tantalizes with its flavor,

But leaves an empty state.

Like an imperial affliction,

It dazzles and it blinds.

Yet beneath the surface glamor,

A troubled soul it finds.

Fame can nourish for a moment,

Filling one with gusts of pride.

But it can also starve a soul,

Leaving it unsatisfied.

So tread with caution, seeker,

In your pursuit of worldly fame.

For its allure may captivate,

But its grip may bring you shame.

Remember that true contentment,

Lies in pursuits that ring true.

Fame may come and fame may go,

But authenticity endures.

Seek not the fleeting spotlight,

But the fulfillment of the heart.

For fame is but a fickle food,

And true worth lies in our art.

Here are the literary devices used in the poem “Fame is a Fickle Food”:


The poem “Fame is a Fickle Food” metaphorically likens fame to a meal served on an ever-changing plate. This comparison conveys the notion that similar to food, fame can momentarily gratify and delight.

However, it also can leave individuals feeling unfulfilled and wanting. By employing this metaphor, the poem underscores the ephemeral and uncertain aspects of fame, underscoring its impermanence and the possible disillusionment it may bring.


While personification is not overtly present in “Fame is a Fickle Food,” there are instances that imply personification to a certain degree. For instance, when the poem portrays fame as having a flavor that tantalizes and leaves an empty state, it attributes human-like qualities to fame. 

This depiction suggests that fame possesses the power to allure and disappoint as if it were a conscious entity. Though not extensively employed, these instances of personification insinuate that fame has a certain agency or influence over individuals.


“Fame is a Fickle Food” presents paradoxical statements that shed light on the conflicting nature of fame. The poem introduces paradoxes, such as:

– “Like a tempting delicacy, fame entices with its flavor, but offers only an empty aftertaste.” This line captures the paradoxical nature of fame, highlighting its initial allure and appeal, yet emphasizing the inherent hollowness and lack of genuine satisfaction it ultimately provides.

– “Like an imperial affliction, it dazzles and it blinds.” In this line, fame is portrayed as simultaneously captivating and blinding, suggesting that while it may bring admiration and attention, it can also obscure one’s authentic self and bring distress.

These paradoxes serve to underscore the intricate complexities of fame, illustrating its ability to simultaneously attract and disappoint, inspire and overwhelm. They generate a sense of tension and encourage contemplation about the inherent contradictions within the pursuit of fame.


Alliteration, a literary device employed in the poem “Fame is a Fickle Food,” enhances its musicality through the repetition of initial consonant sounds. Several examples can be found within the lines:

– “Fame is a Fickle Food”: The repeated “f” sound creates an alliterative effect, emphasizing the central theme of fame.

– “Served on a shifting plate”: The soft and flowing alliteration of the repeated “s” sound enhances the imagery of movement and instability.

– “Like an imperial affliction”: The alliterative rhythm produced by the repeated “i” sound draws attention to the profound comparison between fame and affliction.

These instances of alliteration enrich the poem’s rhythm and melodic quality, contributing to a captivating reading experience. Additionally, they serve to emphasize key concepts and phrases, leaving a lasting impact on the reader.


The poem “Fame is a Fickle Food” follows an inconsistent rhyme scheme. While it doesn’t adhere to a strict pattern, there are instances of end rhymes scattered throughout the poem. Here are some examples:

– “Food” and “blinds”: These words rhyme at the end of their respective lines, creating a rhyme in the first stanza.

– “Pride” and “wide”: These words rhyme at the end of their respective lines, establishing a rhyme in the second stanza.

– “State” and “great”: These words rhyme at the end of their respective lines, forming a rhyme in the third stanza.

While the poem doesn’t consistently maintain a specific rhyme scheme, the occasional use of end rhymes contributes to its overall rhythm and musicality. These rhymes help create a pleasing and harmonious flow of words, adding to the aesthetic appeal of the poem.


To conclude, “Fame is a Fickle Food” by Emily Dickinson masterfully captures the fleeting and contradictory nature of fame through the skilled use of various literary devices. The poem employs metaphor, paradox, personification, alliteration, and occasional rhyme to convey the elusive essence of fame. By likening fame to food, Dickinson highlights its temporary and unsatisfying qualities. 

Collectively, these literary devices work harmoniously to delve into the intricate themes and emotions surrounding fame, leaving the reader with a captivating and contemplative exploration of its ephemeral nature.

Also read: The Detailed Analysis of Fame is a Fickle Food by Emily Dickinson