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I tend to love metaphors and get irritated by similes. Similes often feel unnatural to me. I find myself distracted from the meaning of the text by the presence of the simile. I like writing best that causes me to become so engrossed in the ideas being transmitted by the text that I am not aware of the text itself. When similes distract me, I don’t like them.

That said, I admit similes do have their place, especially in poetry. Take for example Psalm 131:2, which contains a powerful simile:

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother;

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

A child not yet weaned demands milk from his mother. He refuses to relax in her arms until he has what she gives. But a weaned child just wants his mother’s presence. I think that’s the point the psalmist is making. He finds comfort in God’s presence–not in His gifts.

Another winning string of similes is in this favorite song of mine:

So use those similes when you have to, but make sure they are natural enough not to cause a distraction.

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