Literal language refers to the meanings of words, phrases, and sentences in their real or actual sense. The definition of words in their literal sense is precise and uncomplicated and, in dictionary terms, is referred to as its denotation. Literal language is the language one uses to precisely say what one means. The meaning of literal language does not change, irrespective of the context in which it is written. An example is William Carlos Williams poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow." The poem is arranged in couplets on the page so that each line has the shape of a classic wheelbarrow. The poem reads "so much depends//upon/a red wheel/barrow//glazed with rain/water//beside the white/chickens." In literal form, the poem is simple: the red wheelbarrow makes possible quite a bit of important work.
Figurative languages are words and expressions used in poems and texts to convey various meanings and interpretations from the literal meaning. Figurative devices play major while writing poems, sonnets, or ballads. They are the best tool for a writer to appeal to the senses of the reader. These devices give the reader detailed, vivid, and expressive insights. It also gives dimension to poetry and allows the writer to say things with additional flair and color. From William’s poem the wheelbarrow is symbolic, a representation of all the ordinary, day-to-day items which make life possible despite their simplicity.