accent The stress on one or another syllable, especially when poetry is read aloud. accentual verse A system of verse throughout at least a portion of a poem that depends on a certain fixed number of stresses in a line of poetry; this system, however, allows for any number of unstressed syllables. allegory Extended metaphor or symbol with at least two levels of meaning, a literal level and an implied, figurative level; an allegorical narrative tells a story and at the same time suggests another level of meaning. alliteration Repeating consonant sounds at the beginnings of words. allusion Making reference to something or someone, usually in an indirect manner. anapest A metrical foot consisting of two soft stresses followed by a hard stress. See meter. anaphora A word or phrase that is repeated at the start of successive lines of poetry. apostrophe A turn away from the reader to address another listener. assonance Repetition of like vowel sounds, often in stressed syllables in close proximity to each other.
ballad A narrative in verse; the form derives from a narrative that was sung. blank verse Unrhymed iambic pentameter.
cadence The rhythm in language, a pattern that can lend a musical order to a statement. caesura A pause within a verse line, usually at approximately mid point. canon A term originally derived from the Roman Catholic Church having to do with church law, this term also refers to a body of literature that is generally accepted as exhibiting what is best or important in terms of literary art. collagist poetry Poetry that employs the organizing element of collage or the bringing together of disparate material to create a new statement or vision. conceit Not unrelated to the term concept, an unusual supposition, analogy, metaphor, or image, often clever.
connotation Meaning that is implied rather than stated directly as in denotation. consonance Repetition of identical consonant sounds, within the context of varying vowel sounds.
couplet Two verse lines in succession that have the same end rhyme. When the two lines contain a complete statement in themselves, they are called a closed couplet. See also heroic couplet. dactyl A metrical foot consisting of a hard stress followed by two soft stresses. denotation The literal meaning of a word or statement, the opposite of connotation. diction Word choice, the actual language that a writer employs.
dimeter A verse line consisting of two metrical feet. dramatic monologue An address to an interlocutor (another potential speaker) who is not present; a dramatic monologue has only one actual speaker.
elegy A poem mourning someone's death. ellipsis Part of a statement left out, unspoken. end rhyme A rhyme at the end of a verse line. end-stopped A VERSE line that pauses at its end, when no enjambment is possible. enjambment A verse line whose momentum forbids a pause at its end, thus avoiding being end-stopped.
epic A long poem that, typically, recounts the adventures of someone in a high style and diction; classically, the adventures include a hero who is at least partially superhuman in makeup or deed, and the events have special importance in terms of the fate of a people. epigram A brief, witty statement, often satiric or aphoristic.
epithet A word or phrase that characterizes something or someone. eye rhyme Agreement of words according to their spelling but not their sound. feet See foot.
feminine ending A vERsE line that ends with an extra soft stress. feminine rhyme The rhyming of two words in more than a single syllable. figurative language Language that employs figures of speech such as irony, hyperbole, metaphor, simile, symbol, metonymy, etc., in which the language connotes meaning. foot A configuration of syllables to form a meter, such as an iamb, trochee, anapest, dactyl, or spondee. A line of one foot is called a monometer line, of two feet a diameter line, of three feet trimeter, of four TETRAMETER, of five PENTAMETER, of six HEXAMETER, etc. free verse poetry lacking a metrical pattern or patterns; poetic lines without any discernible meter. haiku A japanese lyric form consisting of a certain number of syllables overall and in each line, most often in a five-seven-five syllabic line pattern.
half rhyme A form of consonance in which final consonant sounds in neighboring stressed syllables agree.
heroic couplet Two successive lines of end-rhyming
IAMBIC PENTAMETER. hexameters A verse line consisting of six metrical FEET.
hyperbole An exaggeration meant to emphasize something.
iamb A metrical foot consisting of a soft stress followed by a hard stress. iambic pentameter A five-FOOT line with a preponderance of IAMBIC FEET. image Language meant to represent objects, actions, feelings, or thoughts in vivid terms. internal rhyme A rhyme within a poetic line. masculine rhyme A rhyme depending on one hard-
stressed syllable only. metaphor An implicit comparison, best when between unlike things, made without using the words like or as. meter An arrangement of syllables in units called feet, such as iamb or trochee, and in numbers of feet to make a pattern, such as iambic pentameter; the syllables can be hard- or soft-stressed according to the type of foot or pattern to be employed.
metonymy The substitution of a word that represents an association with, proximity to, or attribute of a thing for the thing itself; this figure of speech is not unlike synechdoche. monometer A verse line consisting of a single metrical foot.
occasional verse verse written to celebrate or to commemorate a particular event. octave An eight-line stanza of poetry, also the first and larger portion of a sonnet. See octet. octet An eight-line stanza of poetry See octave. ode A lyric poem usually in a dignified style and addressing a serious subject. onomatopoeia A word or phrase whose sound resembles something the word or phrase is signifying.
oxymoron A phrase or statement containing a self-contradiction.
paradox A statement that seems to be self-
contradictory but contains a truth that reconciles the contradiction. pastoral A poem that evokes a rural setting or rural values; the word itself derives from the Latin pastor, or "shepherd." pentameter A verse line consisting of five metrical FEET.
persona The speaker in a poem, most often the narrator; the term is derived from the Latin word for "mask."
personification Attributing human qualities to an inanimate entity. prosody The study of versification; the term is at times used as a synonym for meter. quatrain A four-line stanza of a poem, also a portion of a SONNET. rhetorical figure An arrangement of words for one or another emphasis or effect. rhyme Fundamentally, "agreement," the term specifically indicates the sameness or similarity of vowel sounds in an arrangement of words; there can be END RHYME, INTERNAL RHYME, EYE RHYME, HALF RHYME, FEMININE RHYME, etc.
rhyme scheme The arrangement of end rhymes in a poem, indicated when analyzing a poem with the letters of the alphabet, such as, for a poem in successive couplets, AA, BB, CC, etc. rhythm A sense of movement created by arrangement of syllables in terms of stress and time. sestet A six-line stanza of poetry, also the final large portion of a sonnet. sestina A 36-line poem broken up into six sestets as well as a final stanza of three lines, the six words ending the first sestets lines appearing at the conclusions of the remaining five sestets, in one or another order, and appearing in the final three lines; these repeated words usually convey key motifs of the poem. simile A comparison using the word like or as. slant rhyme A partial, incomplete rhyme, sometimes called a half, imperfect, near or off rhyme. sonnet A poem of 14 lines, traditionally in iambic pentameter, the rhyme scheme and structure of which can vary. There are two predominant types of sonnets: the English or Shakespearean, which consists of three quatrains and a final couplet, usually with a rhyme scheme of ABAB cDcD EFEF GG; and the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, often with an initial octave rhyming ABBA ABBA and a concluding sestet rhyming CDECDE. However, it is important to keep in mind that sonnet rhyme schemes can be very different from the above. spondee A metrical foot comprised of two hard stresses.
sprung rhythm Lines or stanzas made up of a preset number of hard syllabic stresses but any number of soft stresses; the effect is a rhythmic irregularity. stanza A group of lines of poetry. stress The emphasis when reading a poem accorded to a syllable. strophe A stanza, or verse paragraph in a prose poem, derived from classical Greek drama. syllabic verse poetry that employs a set number of syllables in a line, regardless of stress. symbol A figure of speech that means what it says literally but also connotes a secondary meaning or meanings, and which usually conveys a concept, motif, or idea. synecdoche A figure of speech in which a part of something is meant to signify the entirety of the thing, such as a hand that is meant to suggest a sailor whose hands are used in sailing a ship (as in "all hands on deck"). See metonymy. synesthesia The mingling or substitution of the senses, such as when talking about a sound by mentioning a color. tanka A Japanese verse form consisting of five lines, with the first and third line each containing five syllables and the rest of the lines each containing seven.
tercet A three-line stanza grouping.
terza rima Poetry comprised of tercets and an interlocking rhyme scheme: ABA, BCB, CDC, etc. tetrameter A verse line of four metrical feet. tone A poet's manifest attitude toward the subject expressed in the poem. trimeter A verse line of three metrical feet. trochee A metrical foot consisting of a hard stress followed by a soft stress.
trope A figurative or rhetorical mechanism, and at times a motif. verse A line of poetry or at times a synonym for poetry or poem. vers libre free verse.
villanelle A 19-line poem made up of six stanzas—five tercets and a final quatrain—with the first tercet employing an ABA rhyme scheme that is then replicated in the following tercets as well as in the final two lines of the quatrain. In addi tion, the first and third lines are repeated in lines 6, 12, and 18, and 9, 15, and 19, respectively. The poem's first and third lines, and their subsequent iterations, carry a special thematic weight, and the poem's motifs are brought together in the concluding quatrain.
voice Not unlike the poem's persona, a sense of a personality or speaker's diction, point of view or attitude in a poem; voice can also simply refer to a poem's speaker.
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