Using the figurative language adds human touch to words. While it makes prose more interesting, it sparks a lucid image in poetry.
A word is most effective when used with care. A polished poet uses the right denotation (dictionary or factual meaning) and connotation (figurative or suggestive meaning) of words.
The figurative language is woven by the poet from the stock of experiences, knowledge, and zeal she deals with everyday, in and out of her world. Through the senses, she relates words with pleasure so the readers could feel, hear, see, smell and taste.
Way back in high school, my English teacher (Miss Jose) asked, "What's a cloud like?"
"It is like a cotton ball," I answered. Until now, that scene is vivid to me dealing with similes and metaphors.
See this example.
A simile is a comparison with the use of as or like.
That is: A cloud is like a cotton ball. It is soft as a cotton ball. It is white as a cotton ball.
A metaphor is an implied comparison without as or like.
That is: A cloud is a cotton ball. It is soft and white.
Among others, other symbolic devices are personification, metonymy, hyperbole, and allusion. It will depend how you would interpret your words and make them alive.
Here is my own poem, as an example.
I Will Write In Your Heart
I will whisper in your ear, all your heart yearns to hear.
I will write in your heart, all your mind wants to remember.
I will weave in your body, all you dream about love.
I did the poem using implied metaphors.
Literally, the ear is for hearing. The word whisper is appropriate for soft cuddling with a lover. The heart literally, can't hear sounds, but it does feel unspoken words. When you love someone, you feel the beloved in your heart. Here is acceptance.
I will etch. I will write in your heart, literally, is bloody. Blood is a sacred pact. It comes with a covenant. The mind is very intelligent; hence, people are specially created by God for his Kingdom. The heart is over mind here, only to offer what is most beautiful for the beloved. The mind will be programmed to remember the beautiful things because of that sacred love. An endless love like that of the Sacred Heart, roots from God's words all over time.
I will weave in your body, all you dream about love. How do you weave? You intertwine threads. You lace colors. You merge juices.
My friend asked me, "How would you do that?"
I answered, "By kneeling... "
Also, I got mixed feelings in this poem. I used "synesthesia" as a device (in Greek, it means perceiving together). When I had this poem, it just came out quickly like press, zoom, and send!