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Poetry Terms


undefined, object
copy deck
The literal dictionary meaning(s) of a word as distinct from an associated idea or connotation.
The choice of words, phrases, sentence structures, and figurative language in a literary work; the manner or mode of verbal expression, particularly with regard to clarity and accuracy. The diction of a poem can range from colloquial to formal, from literal to figurative, or from concrete or abstract.
The central idea, topic, or didactic quality of a work.
A basic artistic device, fundamental to any conception of poetry. It is a highly effective unifying force
blank verse/iambic pentameter
The most common metrical foot in English, German, and Russian verse, and many other languages as well; it consists of two syllables, a short or unaccented syllable followed by a long or accented syllable
rhyme scheme
The pattern established by the arrangement of rhymes in a stanza or poem, generally described by using letters of the alphabet to denote the recurrence of rhyming lines
The repetition of the same or similar sounds at the beginning of words. Some famous examples of alliteration are tongue twisters such as Betty Botta bought some butter and Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
internal rhyme
Also called middle rhyme, a rhyme occurring within the line. The rhyme may be with words within the line but not at the line end, or with a word within the line and a word at the end of the line; I bring fresh showers, for the thirsting flowers
free verse
A fluid form which conforms to no set rules of traditional versification
narrative/narrative poem
The narration of an event or story, stressing details of plot, incident, and action
point of view
the perspective from which a story is told
end rhyme
A rhyme occurring in the terminating word or syllable of one line of poetry with that of another line, as opposed to internal rhyme.
A figure of speech in which a part of something stands for the whole or the whole for a part, as wheels for automobile or society for high society.
A literary work which exposes and ridicules human vices or folly. Historically perceived as tending toward didacticism, it is usually intended as a moral criticism directed against the injustice or social wrongs. It may be written with witty jocularity or with anger and bitterness.
A fixed form consisting of fourteen lines of 5-foot iambic verse
A short narrative poem with stanzas of two or four lines and usually a refrain. The story of a ballad can originate from a wide range of subject matter but frequently deals with folk-lore or popular legends. The plot is the dominant element, dealing with a single crucial episode, narrated impersonally, with frequent use of repetition.
An image transferred by something that stands for or represents something else, like flag for country, or autumn for maturity
A line of writing arranged in a metrical pattern, i.e., a line of poetry. Also, a piece of poetry or a particular form of poetry such as free verse, blank verse, etc., or the art or work of a poet.
The relatively close juxtaposition of the same or similar vowel sounds, but with different end consonants in a line or passage, thus a vowel rhyme, as in the words, date and fade.
An essential of all poetry, the regular or progressive pattern of recurrent accents in the flow of a poem as determined by the arses and theses of the metrical feet, i.e., the rise and fall of stress. The measure of rhythmic quantity is the meter.
literature in metrical form
A Japanese form of poetry consisting of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables
Strictly speaking, the formation or use of words which imitate sounds, like whispering, clang, and sizzle, but the term is generally expanded to refer to any word whose sound is suggestive of its meaning, whether by imitation or through cultural inference.
imagery (5 types)
olfactory (smell); tactile (touch); visual (sight); auditory (hearing); gustatory (taste)
a reference to an idea, place, person or text (or part of a text) existing outside the literary work
Poetry idealizing the lives of shepherds and country folk, although the term is often used loosely to include any poem featuring a rural aspect
A poem in a fixed form, consisting of five 3-line stanzas followed by a quatrain and having only two rhymes. In the stanzas following the first stanza, the first and third lines of the first stanza are repeated alternately as refrains.
A figure of speech in which an explicit comparison is made between two essentially unlike things, usually using like, as or than, as
An agreement or similarity in some particulars between things otherwise different; sleep and death, for example, are analogous in that they both share a lack of animation and a recumbent posture.
foot (poetic)
A unit of rhythm or meter; the division in verse of a group of syllables, one of which is long or accented. For example, the line, "The boy | stood on | the burn | ing deck," has four iambic metrical feet.
A figure of speech in which an address is made to an absent or deceased person or a personified thing rhetorically
A type of metaphor in which distinctive human characteristics, e.g., honesty, emotion, volition, etc., are attributed to an animal, object, or idea, as "the haughty lion surveyed his realm" or "my car was happy to be washed" or "'Fate frowned on his endeavors."
A measure of rhythmic quantity; the organized succession of groups of syllables at basically regular intervals in a line of poetry, according to definite metrical patterns
An extended narrative poem, usually simple in construction, but grand in scope, exalted in style, and heroic in theme, often giving expression to the ideals of a nation or race.
he poet's or persona's attitude in style or expression toward the subject, e.g., loving, ironic, bitter, pitying, fanciful, solemn, etc
irony (3 types)
Verbal-sarcasm; Dramatic-the spectator a step ahead of at least one of the characters; Situational: ie)When John Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, all of his shots initially missed the President; however a bullet ricocheted off the bullet-proof windows of the Presidential limousine and struck Reagan in the chest. Thus, the windows made to protect the President from gunfire were partially responsible for his being shot
The close repetition of the same end consonants of stressed syllables with differing vowel sounds, such as boat and night, or the words drunk and milk
A ludicrous imitation, usually intended for comic effect but often for ridicule, of both the style and content of another work
Two successive lines of poetry, usually of equal length and rhythmic correspondence, with end-words that rhyme. The couplet, for practical purposes, is the shortest stanza form, but is frequently joined with other couplets to form a poem with no stanzaic divisions
A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one object or idea is applied to another, thereby suggesting a likeness or analogy between them
figurative language
The use of words, phrases, symbols, and ideas in such as way as to evoke mental images and sense impressions. Figurative language is often characterized by the use of figures of speech, elaborate expressions, sound devices, and syntactic departures from the usual order of literal language.
literal language
A fact or idea stated directly. When a writer intends something to be understood exactly as it is written, he or she is using literal language.
One of the three main groups of poetry, the others being narrative and dramatic.
A division of a poem made by arranging the lines into units separated by a space, usually of a corresponding number of lines and a recurrent pattern of meter and rhyme.
speaker or voice of a literary work, i.e., who is doing the talking.
A bold, deliberate overstatement, e.g., "I'd give my right arm for a piece of pizza." Not intended to be taken literally, it is used as a means of emphasizing the truth of a statement.
The suggestion of a meaning by a word beyond what it explicitly denotes or describes. The word, home, for example, means the place where one lives, but by connotation, also suggests security, family, love and comfort.
A statement which contains seemingly contradictory elements or appears contrary to common sense, yet can be seen as perhaps, or indeed, true when viewed from another angle
In the specific sense, a type of echoing which utilizes a correspondence of sound in the final accented vowels and all that follows of two or more words
speaker of the poem
The poet's or persona's attitude in style or expression toward the subject, e.g., loving, ironic, bitter, pitying, fanciful, solemn, etc.
A poem, unit, or stanza of four lines of verse, usually with a rhyme scheme of abab or its variant, xbyb.

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