Abecedarian poem - A poem having verses beginning with the successive
letters of the alphabet.
Abstract Language - Words that represent ideas, intangibles, and concepts such as "beauty" and "truth."
Abstract Poetry - Poetry that aims to use its sounds, textures, rhythms, and rhymes to convey an emotion, instead of relying on the meanings of words.
Academic Verse - Poetry that adheres to the accepted standards and requirements of some kind of "school." Poetry approved, officially, or
unofficially, by a literary establishment.
Acatalectic - A verse having the metrically complete number of syllables in the final foot.
Accent - The rhythmically significant stress in the articulation of words, giving some syllables more relative prominence than others. In words of two or more syllables, one syllable is almost invariably stressed more strongly than the other syllables. In words of one syllable, the degree of stress normally depends on their grammatical function; nouns,verbs, and adjectives
are usually given more stress than articles or prepositions. The words in a line of poetry are usually arranged so the accents occur at regular intervals, with the meter defined by the placement of the accents within the foot. Accent should not be construed as emphasis.
Accentual Meter - A rhythmic pattern based on a recurring number of accents
or stresses in each line of a poem or section of a poem.
Acephalexis - initial truncation (the dropping of the first, unstressed
syllable at the beginning of a line of iambic or anapestic verse).
Acrostic - a poem in which the first letter of each line spells out a name
Adonic - A verse consisting of a dactyl followed by a spondee or trochee.
Adynaton - A type of hyperbole in which the exaggeration is magnified so
greatly that it refers to an impossibility, as "I'd walk a million miles for
one of your smiles."
Afflatus - A creative inspiration, as that of a poet; a divine imparting of
knowledge, thus it is often called divine afflatus.
Alcaic verse - A Greek lyrical meter, said to be invented by Alcaeus, a
lyric poet from about 600 B.C. Written in tetrameter, the greater Alcaic
consists of a spondee or iamb followed by an iamb plus a long syllable and
two dactyls. The lesser Alcaic, also in tetrameter, consists of two dactylic
feet followed by two iambic feet.
Alexandrine - An iambic line of twelve syllables, or six feet, usually with
a caesura after the sixth syllable. It is the standard line in French
poetry, comparable to the iambic pentameter line in English poetry.
Allegory - A figurative illustration of truths or generalizations about
human conduct or experience in a narrative or description by the use of
symbolic fictional figures and actions which resemble the subject's
properties and circumstances.
Alliteration - the repetition of the consonant sounds within words or within
Allusion - An implied or indirect reference to something assumed to be
known, such as an historical event or personage, a well-known quotation from
literature, or a famous work of art.
Amphibrach - A metrical foot consisting of a long or accented syllable
between two short or unaccented syllables.
Amphigouri - A verse composition, while apparently coherent, contains no
sense or meaning.
Anachronism - The placement of an event, person, or thing out of its proper
chronological relationship, sometimes unintentional, but often deliberate as
an exercise of poetic license.
Anaclasis - The substitution of different measures to break up the rhythm.
Anacreontic - A poem in the style of the Greek poet, Anacreon, convivial in
tone or theme, relating to the praise of love and wine.
Anacrusis - when one or more unstressed syllables are added at the beginning
of a line.
Aagoge or Anagogy - The spiritual or mystical interpretation of a word or
passage beyond the literal, allegorical or moral sense.
Analogy - 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.
Anapest - a metrical foot composed of two weaker syllables followed by a
stronger, (or 'stressed') syllable.
Anaphora - the repetition of an opening word or phrase in throughout a
number of lines.
Anastrophe - A type of hyperbaton involving the inversion of the natural or
usual syntactical order of a pair of words for rhetorical or poetic effect.
Antanaclasis - A figure of speech in which the same word is repeated in a
different sense within a clause or line.
Anthology - A collection of selected literary, artistic, or musical works or
parts of works.
Antibacchius - A metrical foot consisting of two long syllables followed by
a short syllable.
Anticlimax - The intentional use of elevated language to describe the
trivial or commonplace, or a sudden transition from a significant thought to
a trivial one in order to achieve a humorous or satiric effect.
Antiphrasis - The ironic or humorous use of words in a sense not in accord
with their literal meaning, as in "a giant of three feet four inches."
Antispast - A metrical foot consisting of two long syllables between two
Antistrophe - The second division in the triadic structure of Pindaric
verse, corresponding metrically to the strophe; also, the stanza following
or alternating with and responding to the strophe in ancient lyric poetry.
Antithesis - A figure of speech in which a thought is balanced with a
contrasting thought in parallel arrangements of words and phrases.
Antonomasia - The use of a name, epithet or title in place of a proper name,
as Bard for Shakespeare.
Antonym - One of two or more words that have opposite meanings.
Aphaeresis or apheresis - A type of elision in which a letter or syllable is
omitted at the beginning of a word, as 'twas for it was.
Aphesis - A form of aphaeresis in which the syllable omitted is short and
unaccented, as in round for around.
Aphorism - A brief statement containing an important truth or fundamental
Apocope - A type of elision in which a letter or syllable is omitted at the
end of a word, as in morn for morning.
Apologue - An allegorical narrative, usually intended to convey a moral or a
Aposiopesis - Stopping short of a complete thought for effect, thus calling
attention to it, usually by a sudden breaking off, as in "He acted like--but
I pretended not to notice," leaving the unsaid portion to the reader's
Apostrophe - A figure of speech in which an address is made to an absent
person or a personified thing rhetorically.
Arcadia - A region or scene characterized by idyllic quiet and simplicity,
often chosen as a setting for pastoral poetry.
Archaism - A word or expression no longer in general use, for example, thou
mayst is an archaism meaning, "you may."
Argument - The subject matter or central theme of a work of literature or a
summary of the work, often used as a prologue to a drama, epic, or
Arsis - The accented or longer part of a poetic foot; the point where an
ictus is put.
Assonance - 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.
Asyndeton - The omission of conjunctions that ordinarily join coordinate
words and phrases, as in "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
Aubade - A song or poem with a motif of greeting the dawn, often involving
the parting of lovers, or a call for a beloved to arise.
Avant - Garde - The innovating artists or writers who promote the use of new
or experimental concepts or techniques.
Bacchius - In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of a short syllable
followed by two long syllables.
Ballad - 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 most frequently deals with folklore or popular legends.
They are written in straightforward verse, seldom with detail, but always
with graphic simplicity and force. Most ballads are suitable for singing
and, while sometimes varied in practice, are generally written in ballad
meter, i.e., alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter,
with the last words of the second and fourth lines rhyming.
Ballade - Frequently represented in French poetry, a fixed form consisting
of three seven or eight-line stanzas using no more than three recurrent
rhymes with an identical refrain after each stanza and a closing envoi
repeating the rhymes of the last four lines of the stanza. A variation
containing six stanzas is called a double ballade.
Baroque - An elaborate, extravagantly complex, sometimes grotesque, style of
artistic expression prevalent in the late sixteenth to early eighteenth
centuries. The baroque influence on poetry was expressed by Euphuism in
England, Marinism in Italy, and Gongorism in Spain.
Bathos - An unintentional shift from the sublime to the ridiculous which can
result from the use of overly elevated language to describe trivial subject
matter, or from an exaggerated attempt at pathos which misfires to the point
of being ludicrous. Bathos can be viewed as an unintentional anticlimax.
Blank verse - Poetry written without rhymes, but which retains a set
metrical pattern, usually iambic pentameter (or five iambic feet per line)
in English verse. Since it is a very flexible form, the writer not being
hampered in the expression of thought or syntactic structure by the need to
rhyme, it is used extensively in narrative and dramatic poetry. In lyric
poetry, blank verse is adaptable to lengthy descriptive and meditative
Boustrophedon--Boustrophedon is an ancient method of writing (prose or poetry) in which the lines are inscribed alternately from right to left and from left to right. The interesting challenge is trying to stick to the applied rule whilst keeping the poem interesting.
Bouts-Rimes - An 18th century parlor game in which a list of rhyming words
was drawn up and handed to the players, who had to make a poem from the list
keeping the rhymes in their original order.
Broadside Ballad - A ballad written in doggerel, printed on a single sheet
of paper and sold for a penny or two on English street corners in the late
16th and early 17th centuries. The name of the tune to which they were to be
sung was indicated on the sheet. The subject matter of broadside ballads
covered a wide range of current, historical or simply curious events and
also extended to moral exhortations and religious propaganda.
Broken Rhyme - Also called split rhyme, a rhyme produced by dividing a word
at the line break to make a rhyme with the end word of another line.
Bucolic - Derived from the Greek word for herdsman, an ancient term for a
poem dealing with a pastoral subject.
Burden - The central topic or principle idea, often repeated in a refrain.
Burlesque - A work which is intended to ridicule by the use of grotesque
exaggeration or by the treatment of a trifling subject with the gravity due
a matter of great importance.
Cacophony - Discordant sounds in the jarring juxtaposition of harsh letters
or syllables, sometimes inadvertent, but often deliberately used in poetry
Cadence - The progressive rhythmical pattern in lines of verse; also, the
natural tone or modulation of the voice determined by the alternation of
accented or unaccented syllables.
Caesura - A rhythmic break or pause in the flow of sound which is commonly
introduced in about the middle of a line of verse, but may be varied for
different effects. Usually placed between syllables rhythmically connected
in order to aid the recital as well as to convey the meaning more clearly,
it is a pause dictated by the sense of the content or by natural speech
patterns, rather than by metrics. It may coincide with conventional
punctuation marks, but not necessarily. A caesura within a line is indicated
in scanning by the symbol (||).
Canon - In a literary sense, the authoritative works of a particular writer;
also, an accepted list of works perceived to represent a cultural,
ideological, historical, or biblical grouping.
Canto - A major division of a long or extended poem. A canto of a poem
corresponds to a chapter of a novel.
Canzone - A medieval Italian or Provençal lyric poem of varying stanzaic
form, usually with a concluding short stanza or envoi.
Carmina Figurata/Figuratum - See Pattern Poetry
Carpe Diem - Latin for "seize the day," a common motif in lyric verse
throughout the history of poetry, with the emphasis on making the most of
current pleasures because life is short and time is flying.
Catachresis - Misuse or abuse of words; the use of the wrong word for the
context, as atone for repent, ingenuous for ingenious, or a forced trope in
which a word is used too far removed from its true meaning, as "loud aroma"
or "velvet beautiful to the touch."
Catalectic/Catalexis - Metrically incomplete; the dropping of one or two
unaccented syllables from the end of a line, thus ending with an incomplete
Catalog Verse - A poem comprised of a list of persons, places, things, or
abstract ideas which share a common denominator. An ancient form, it was
originally a type of didactic poetry.
Cataphora - The use of a grammatical substitute (like a pronoun) which has
the same reference as the next word or phrase.
Caudate Ryhme - See tail rhyme
Cento - Poetry made up of lines borrowed from a combination of established
authors, usually resulting in a change in meaning and a humorous effect.
Chain Rhyme - Also called interlocking rhyme, a rhyme scheme in which a
rhyme in a line of one stanza is used as a link to a rhyme in the next
stanza, as in the aba bcb cdc, etc. of terza rima or the aaab cccb
Chain Verse - Similar to chain rhyme, but links words, phrases, or lines
(instead of rhyme) by repeating them in succeeding stanzas, as in the
pantoum, but there are many variations.
Chanson De Geste - Literally, a song of heroic deeds, it refers to a class
of Old French epic poems of the Middle Ages.
Chant Royal - An elaborate form of ballade in old French poetry, consisting
of five stanzas of eleven lines, an envoi of eight lines, and five rhymes.
The rhyme scheme is usually ababccddede.
Chapbook - A small book or pamphlet containing ballads, poems, popular tales
or tracts, etc.
Chaucerian Stanza - See Rhyme Royal
Chiasmus - An inverted parallelism; the reversal of the order of
corresponding words or phrases (with or without exact repetition) in
successive clauses, which are usually parallel in syntax.
Choriamb - In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of four syllables,
the first two forming a trochee and the second two an iambus.
Choric Ode - See Pindaric Verse
Cinquain - A five-line stanza of syllabic verse, the successive lines
containing two, four, six, eight and two syllables. The cinquain, based on
the Japanese haiku, was an innovation of the American poet, Adelaide
Clarity Pyramid--A Clarity Pyramid is a poem consisting of two triplets and a single line (7 lines in all). Usually, this poem is center aligned when displayed.
The first triplet has 1, 2, and 3 syllables. The title of the poem is the one-syllable word of the first triplet, which is displayed in all capital letters. This line is followed by a two-syllable line, and then a three-syllable line both of which clarify the definition of the poem, or are synonyms for the title.
The second triplet has 5, 6, and 7 syllables. It's design is based around a life event contained within the triplet which helps give a poetic view or outlook on the first line (title).
The last line is 8 syllables, and is in quotations as this line contains a quote that defines the first word (title).
Clerihew: A clerihew is a humorous verse, rather similar to a limerick, that generally uses the name of a well known person at the end of the first or second line. The form was invented by and is named for Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The clerihew is usually whimsical, showing the subject from an unusual point of view. It is hardly ever satirical or abusive, and unlike the limerick, it is not often obscene. The form includes four free verse lines with irregular, prose-like rhythm, with two pairs of rhymes (aabb).
Classicism - The adherence to traditional standards that are universally
valid and enduring.
Cliche - well worn or tired phrase
Clerihew - A comic light verse, two couplets in length, rhyming aabb,
usually dealing with a person mentioned in the initial rhyme.
Climax - Rhetorically, a series of words, phrases, or sentences arranged in
a continuously ascending order of intensity. If the ascending order is not
maintained, an anticlimax or bathos results.
Closed Couplet - A couplet in which the sense and syntax is self- contained
within its two lines, as opposed to an open couplet.
Close Rhyme - A rhyme of two contiguous or close words, such as in the
idiomatic expressions, "true blue" or "fair and square."
Closet Drama - A literary work written in the form of a drama, but intended
by the author only for reading, not for performance in the theater.
Closure - The effect of finality, balance, and completeness which leaves the
reader with a sense of fulfilled expectations. Though the term is sometimes
employed to describe the effects of individual repetitive elements, such as
rhyme, metrical patterns, parallelism, refrains, and stanzas, its most
significant application is in reference to the concluding portion of the
Common Measure - A meter consisting chiefly of seven iambi feet arranged in
rhymed pairs, thus a line with four accents followed by a line with three
accents, usually in a four-line stanza. It is also called common meter.
Companion Poem - A poem that is associated with another, which it
Conceit - An elaborate metaphor, often strained or far-fetched, in which the
subject is compared with a simpler analogue usually chosen from nature or a
Concrete Poetry - Poetry which forms a structurally original visual shape,
preferably abstract, through the use of reduced language, fragmented
letters, symbols and other typographical variations to create an extreme
graphic impact on the reader's attention. The essence of concrete poetry
lies in its appearance on the page rather than in the written text; it is
intended to be perceived as a visual whole and often cannot be effective
when read aloud.
Connotation - 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.
Consonance - A pleasing combination of sounds; sounds in agreement with
tone. Also, the close repetition of the same end consonants of stressed
syllables with differing vowel sounds.
Content - The substance of a poem; the impressions, facts and ideas it
Controlling Metaphor - a symbolic story, where the whole poem may be a
metaphor for something else.
Conventions - In a literary sense, established "codes" of basic principles
and procedures for types of works that are recurrent in literature. The
prevailing conventions of their time strongly influence writers to select
content, forms, style, diction, etc., which is acceptable to the cultural
expectations of the public.
Couplet - 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.
Courtly Love - A late medieval idealized convention establishing a code for
the conduct of amorous affairs of ladies and their lovers. Expressed and
spread by the minnesingers and troubadours, it became associated with the
literary concept of love until the 19th century.
Crambo - A game in which one player gives a word or line of verse to be
matched in rhyme by the other players.
Cretic - Used in ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of a short
syllable between two long syllables, as in thirty-nine.
Criticaster - An inferior or petty critic.
Cross Rhyme - A rhyme scheme of abab, also called alternate rhyme. The term
derives from long-line verse such as hexameter in which two lines have
caesural words rhymed together and end words rhymed together, as in
Cycle - The aggregate of accumulated literature, plays or musical works
treating the same theme. In poetry, the term is typically applied to epic or
narrative poems about a mythical or heroic event or character.
Dactyl or Dactylic - A metrical foot of three syllables, the first of which
is long or accented and the next two short or unaccented.
Dadaism - A short-lived WWI European movement in arts and literature based
on deliberate irrationality and the negation of traditional artistic values.
Decameter - A line of verse consisting of ten metrical feet.
Decasyllable - A metrical line of ten syllables or a poem composed of
Denotation - The literal dictionary meaning(s) of a word as distinct from an
associated idea or connotation.
Diacope - See Epizeuxis
Diaeresis or Dieresis - The pronunciation of two adjacent vowels as separate
sounds rather than as a dipthong, as in coordinate; also, the mark
indicating the separate pronunciation, as in naïve.
Diamante---A Diamante is a seven-lined contrast poem set up in a diamond shape. The first line begins with a noun and second line contains two adjectives that describes it. The third line contains three words ending in -ing, and the forth line has four more words that describe the subject (in some diamantes the first two words of the 4th line modify the first line noun while the last two words modify the last line noun...an early shift). If using an antonym for the ending, this is where the shift should occur. The fifth line are three more -ing words that describe the ending noun of the poem. The sixth line contains two adjectives that modify the last line, which is the first noun's antonym or synonym. Line 1: Noun or subject Line 2: Two Adjectives Line 3: Three -ing words Line 4: Four words about the subject Line 5: Three -ing words
Line 6: Two adjectives Line 7: An antonym or contrast word for the subject
Dibrach - See Pyrrhic
Diction - 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.
Didactic Poetry - Poetry which is clearly intended for the purpose of
instruction -- to impart theoretical, moral, or practical knowledge, or to
explain the principles of some art or science.
Diiamb or Diamb - In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of four
syllables, with the first and third short and the second and fourth long,
i.e., two iambs considered as a single foot.
Dimeter - A line of verse consisting of two metrical feet, or of two
Diphthong - the sound formed by two merged vowels, highly prevalent in
English, eg the vowel sounds of 'loud', 'new', 'why'
Dipody or Dipodic Verse - A double foot; a unit of two feet.
Dirge - A poem of grief or lamentation, especially one intended to accompany
funeral or memorial rites.
Dispondee - In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of four long
syllables, equivalent to a double spondee.
Dissonance - A mingling or union of harsh, inharmonious sounds which are
grating to the ear.
Distich - A strophic unit of two lines; a pair of poetic lines or verses
which together comprise a complete sense.
Disyllable - A word of two syllables.
Disyllabic Rhyme - A rhyme in which two final syllables of words have the
Dithyramb - In classic poetry, a type of melic verse associated with drunken
revelry and performed to honor of Dionysus (Bacchus), the Greek god of wine
and ecstacy. In modern usage, the term has come to mean a poem of
impassioned frenzy and irregular character.
Ditty - A little poem meant to be sung.
Dizain---A dizain is a ten line poem rhymed a b a b b c c d c d; usually (though not by definition) it is written in iambic pentameter. Literary Example: Auden's "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" (second chapter)
Dochmius or Dochmii - In ancient Greek prosody, a metrical foot consisting
of five syllables, the first and fourth being short and the second, third
and fifth long.
Dodecasyllable - A metrical line of twelve syllables.
Doggerel - Originally applied to poetry of loose irregular measure, it now
is used to describe crudely written poetry which lacks artistry in form or
Dorian Ode - See Pindaric Verse
Double Dactyl - A word with two dactyls, such as counterintelligence or
parliamentarian; also, a modern form of light verse consisting of two
quatrains with two dactyls per line. The first line is a hyphenated nonsense
word, often "higgledy-piggledy;" the second line is a proper name, and the
sixth line is a single double dactyl word. The fourth and eighth lines are
truncated, lacking the final two unaccented syllables, and rhyme with each
Dramatic Monologue - A literary work which consists of a revealing one-way
conversation by a character or persona, usually directed to a second person
or to an imaginary audience. It typically involves a critical moment of a
specific situation, with the speaker's words unintentionally providing a
revelation of his character.
Dramatic Poem - A composition in verse portraying a story of life or
character, usually involving conflict and emotions, in a plot evolving
through action and dialogue.
Dysphemism - The substitution of a disagreeable, offensive or disparaging
expression to replace an agreeable or inoffensive one.
Echo - The repetition of particular sounds, syllables, words or lines in
Echo Verse - A form of poem in which a word or two at the end of a line
appears as an echo constituting the entire following line. The echo, either
the same word or syllable or a homophone, often changes the meaning in a
flippant, cynical or punning response.
Eclogue - A pastoral poem, usually containing dialogue between shepherds.
Edda - Either of two collections of mythological, heroic and aphoristic
Icelandic poetry from the 12th and 13th centuries.
Eidillion or Eidyllion - See Idyll
Ekphrasis or Ecphrasis - In modern usage, the vivid literary description of
a specific work of art, such as a painting, sculpture, tapestry, church, and
the like. Originally, the term more broadly applied to a description in
words of any experience, person, or thing.
Elegiac - A dactylic hexameter couplet, with the second line having only an
unaccented syllable in the third and sixth feet; also, of or relating to the
period in Greece when elegies written in such couplets flourished, about the
seventh century B.C.; also, relating to an elegy.
Elegiac Stanza - See Heroic Quatrain
Elegy - A poem of lament, usually formal and sustained, over the death of a
particular person; also, a meditative poem in plaintive or sorrowful mood.
Elision - The omission of a letter or syllable as a means of contraction,
generally to achieve a uniform metrical pattern, but sometimes to smooth the
pronunciation; most such omissions are marked with an apostrophe. Specific
types of elision include aphaeresis, apocope, syncope, synaeresis and
Ellipsis - The omission of a word or words necessary to complete a
grammatical construction, but which is easily understood by the reader, such
as "the virtues I esteem" for "the virtues which I esteem." Also, the marks
(. . .) or (--) denoting an omission or pause.
Emblem Poems - See Pattern Poetry
Empathy - The feeling or capacity for awareness, understanding and
sensitivity one experiences when hearing or reading of some event or
activity of another, thus imagining the same sensation as that of those
actually experiencing it.
Emphasis - A deliberate stress of articulation on a word or phrase so as to
give an impression of particular significance to it by the more marked
pronunciation. In writing, emphasis is indicated by the use of italics or
Enallage - The effective use of a grammatically incorrect part of speech in
place of the correct form, e.g., present tense in place of past tense,
plural for singular, etc.
Enargia - See under Ekphrasis
Encomium - A speech or composition in high praise of a person, object or
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.
End-Stopped - Denoting a line of verse in which a logical or rhetorical
pause occurs at the end of the line, usually marked with a period, comma, or
Enjambment - The continuation of the sense and therefore the grammatical
construction beyond the end of a line of verse or the end of a couplet.
Envelope - A poetic device in which a line, phrase, or stanza is repeated so
as to enclose other material.
Envoi or Envoy - A short final stanza of a poem, especially a ballade or
sestina, serving as a summary or dedication -- like an author's postscript.
Epanadiplosis - See Anadiplosis
Epanalepsis - A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is repeated after
Epanaphora - See Anaphora
Epic - 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.
Epigram - A pithy, sometimes satiric couplet or quatrain which was popular
in classic Latin literature and in European and English literature of the
Renaissance and the neo-Classical era. Epigrams comprise a single thought or
event and are often aphoristic with a witty or humorous turn of thought.
Epigraph - A quotation, or a sentence composed for the purpose, placed at
the beginning of a literary work or one of its separate divisions, usually
suggestive of the theme.
Epinicion or Epinician or Epinikion - A song in celebration of triumph; an
ode in praise of a victory in the Greek games or in war.
Epistrophe - Also called epiphora, the repetition of a word or expression at
the end of successive phrases or verses.
Epitaph - A brief poem or statement in memory of someone who is deceased,
used as -- or suitable for -- a tombstone inscription; a commemorative
Epithalamium or Epithalamion - A nuptial song or poem in honor of the bride
Epithet - An adjective or adjectival phrase, usually attached to the name of
a person or thing.
Epitrite - A metrical foot consisting of three long syllables and one short
syllable, and denominated first, second, third or fourth according to the
position of the short syllable.
Epizeuxis - A rhetorical device consisting of the immediate repetition of a
word or phrase for emphasis
Epode - A type of lyric poem in which a long verse is followed by a shorter
one, or the third and last part of an ode; also, the third part of a triadic
Greek poem or Pindaric verse following the strophe and the antistrophe.
Epopee - An epic poem, or the history, action or legend, which is the
subject of an epic poem.
Epos - An epic poem; also a number of poems of an epic theme but which are
not formally united.
Epyllion - A brief narrative work in classic poetry written in dactylic
hexameter. It commonly dealt with mythological themes, often with a romantic
interest, and was characterized by vivid description, scholarly allusion,
and an elevated tone.
Equivoke or Equivoque - An ambiguous word or phrase capable more than one
interpretation, thus susceptible to use for puns.
Eulogy - A speech or writing in praise of the character or accomplishments
of a person.
Euphemism - The substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression to
replace one that might offend or suggest something unpleasant, for example,
"he is at rest" is a euphemism for "he is dead."
Ethere - A non rhyming poem consisting of 10 lines. the syllable count of the lines are as follows 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables. The following are syllable counts for other forms of the ethere. Reversed (or inverted) Ethere:
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Double Ethere:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
and so on.
Euphony - Harmony or beauty of sound which provides a pleasing effect to the
ear, usually sought-for in poetry for effect. It is achieved not only by the
selection of individual word-sounds, but also by their relationship in the
repetition, proximity, and flow of sound patterns.
Euphuism - An ornate Elizabethan style of writing marked by the excessive
use of alliteration, antithesis and mythological similes. The term derives
from the elaborate and affected style of John Lyly's 16th century romance,
Exact Rhyme - See Perfect Rhyme
Extended Metaphor - A metaphor which is drawn-out beyond the usual word or
phrase to extend throughout a stanza or an entire poem, usually by using
multiple comparisons between the unlike objects or ideas.
Fable - A poetic story that illustrates a moral or teaches a lesson, usually
in which animals or inanimate objects are represented as characters.
Fabliau - A ribald and often cynical tale in verse, especially popular in
the Middle Ages.
Facetiae - Witty or humorous writings or remarks.
Fatal Flaw - See Hamartia
Feminine Ending - An extra unaccented syllable at the end of an iambic or
anapestic line of poetry, often used in blank verse.
Feminine Rhyme - A rhyme occurring on an unaccented final syllable, as in
dining and shining or motion and ocean. Feminine rhymes are double or
disyllabic rhymes and are common in the heroic couplet.
Fescennine Verses - Poetry of a personal nature, lacking moral or sexual
restraints, commonly extemporized at rustic weddings in Fescennia, Rome and
other ancient Italian cities.
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
Figure of Speech - A mode of expression in which words are used out of their
literal meaning or out of their ordinary use in order to add beauty or
emotional intensity or to transfer the poet's sense impressions by comparing
or identifying one thing with another that has a meaning familiar to the
reader. Some important figures of speech are: simile, metaphor,
personification, hyperbole and symbol.
Fit or Fytte - An archaic term for the division of a poem, i.e., a stanza or
Foot - 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. The
fundamental components of the foot are the arsis and the thesis. The most
common poetic feet used in English verse are the iamb, anapest, trochee,
dactyl and spondee, while in classical verse there are 28 different feet.
The other metrical feet are the amphibrach, antibacchius, antispast,
bacchius, choriamb, cretic, diiamb, dispondee, dochmius, molossus,
proceleusmatic, pyrrhic and tribrach, plus two variations of the ionic, four
variations of the epitrite, and four variations of the paeon. The structure
of a poetic foot does not necessarily correspond to word divisions, but is
determined in context by the feet which surround it.
Form - The arrangement, manner or method used to convey the content, such as
free verse, ballad, haiku, etc. In other words, the "way-it-is-said."
Found Poem - A poem created from prose found in a non-poetic context, such
as advertising copy, brochures, newspapers, product labels, etc. The lines
are arbitrarily rearranged into a form patterned on the rhythm and
appearance of poetry.
Fourteener - An iambic line of fourteen syllables, or seven feet, widely
used in English poetry in the middle of the 16th Century.
Free Verse - A fluid form which conforms to no set rules of traditional
versification. The free in free verse refers to the freedom from fixed
patterns of meter and rhyme, but writers of free verse employ familiar
poetic devices such as assonance, alliteration, imagery, caesura, figures of
speech etc., and their rhythmic effects are dependent on the syllabic
cadences emerging from the context. The term is often used in its French
language form, vers libre.
Galliambus - In classic poetry, a lyric meter consisting of four iambic
dipodies, the last of which is catalectic, dropping the final accent, or a
line of four lesser Ionic feet catalectic, varied by anaclasis.
Genre - A category of artistic, musical or literary composition
characterized by a particular form, style or content. Poetry, for example,
is a literary genre.
Georgic - A poem dealing with a rural or agricultural topic, but differing
from pastoral poetry in that the primary intention of a georgic is didactic.
Ghazal - A monorhymed Middle Eastern lyric poem in which the first two lines
rhyme with a corresponding rhyme in the second line of each succeeding
couplet, thus a rhyme scheme of aa, ba, ca, etc.
Gleeman - An old English minstrel. Gleemen sometimes composed their own
verses, but often recited poetry written by a scop.
Glosa - A Glosa is an early Renaissance form that was developed by poets of the Spanish court in the 14th and 15th centuries. In a Glosa, tribute is paid to another poet. The opening quatrain, called a cabeza, is by another poet, (or yourself if you really must) and each of their four lines are used within your poem. The opening quatrain (by another poet) is followed by four stanzas, each of which is generally ten lines long, that elaborate or "glosses" on the cabeza chosen. Each ending line (10th line) of the four following stanzas is taken from the cabeza.The usual rhyme scheme of a glosa is final word rhyming of the 6th, 9th and the borrowed 10th lines.]
Gnome - An aphorism, a short statement of proverbial truth. Composers of
such verse are known as gnomic poets.
Goliardic Poetry - Satiric verse which flourished in the 12th and 13th
centuries, usually consisting of a stanza of four 13-syllable lines in
feminine rhyme, sometimes with a concluding hexameter. The satire was
characteristically a defiance of authority, most particularly directed
against the Church.
Gongorism - Named for the 17th century Spanish poet, Luis de Gongora y
Argote, a literary style characterized by stilted obscurity and the use of
affected devices of embellishment.
Grave - In poetry, a mark ( ` ) indicating that the e in the English ending
ed is to be pronounced for the sake of meter.
Haiku - A Japanese form of poetry, also known as hokku. It consists of three
unrhymed lines of five, seven and five syllables. The elusive flavor of the
form, however, lies more in its touch and tone than in its syllabic
structure. Deeply imbedded in Japanese culture and strongly influenced by
Zen Buddhism, haiku are very brief descriptions of nature that convey some
implicit insight or essence of a moment. Traditionally, they contain either
a direct or oblique reference to a season.
Half Rhyme - A near rhyme; also, an apocopated rhyme in which the rhyme
occurs only on the first syllable of the rhyming word, as in blue and truly
or sum and trumpet.
Hamartia - In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgement or inherent
defect of character, usually less literally translated as a "fatal flaw."
This, combined with essential elements of chance and other external forces,
brings about a catastrophe. Often the error or flaw results from nothing
more than personal traits like probity, pride, and overconfidence, but can
arise from any failure of the protagonist's action or knowledge ranging from
a simple unwittingness to a moral deficiency.
Head Rhyme - See Alliteration
Helicon - A part of the Parnassus, a mountain range in Greece, which was the
home of the Muses. The name is used as an allusion to poetic inspiration.
Hemistich - The approximate half of a line of poetic verse, usually divided
by a caesura. In dramatic poetry it is used whenever characters exchange
short bursts of dialogue rapidly, heightening the effect of quarrelsome
disagreement; in classical poetry such a series is called hemistichomythia.
Other types of poetry may use an occasional hemistich to give the effect of
emotionally disturbed thought or action.
Hendecasyllable - A metrical line of eleven syllables.
Hendiadys - The use of a pair of nouns joined by and where one has the
effect of a modifier.
Heptameter - A line of verse consisting of seven metrical feet. It is also
called a septenarius, especially in Latin prosody.
Heroic Couplet - Two successive lines of rhymed poetry in iambic pentameter,
so called for its use in the composition of epic poetry in the 17th and 18th
centuries. In neo-classical usage the two lines were required to express a
complete thought, thus a closed couplet, with a subordinate pause at the end
of the first line. Heroic couplets, which are well-suited to antithesis and
parallelism, are also often used for epigrams.
Heroic Quatrain or Heroic Verse - So named because it is the form in which
epic poetry of heroic exploits is generally written, its rhyme scheme is
abab, composed in ten-syllable iambic verse in English, hexameter in Greek
and Latin, ottava rima in Italian.
Heterometric composition - a poem written in meter but with lines of
differing length, e.g. one line of tetrameter, one of pentameter, one of
Heteronym - See Homonym
Hexameter - A line of verse consisting of six metrical feet; the term,
however, is usually used for dactylic hexameter, consisting of dactyls and
spondees, the meter in which the Greek and Latin epics were written.
Hiatus - See Elision
Higgledy-Piggledy - See Double Dactyl
Homonym - One of two or more words which are identical in pronunciation and
spelling, but different in meaning, as the noun bear and the verb bear.
Horatian Ode - An ode relating to or resembling the works or style of the
Roman poet, Horace, consisting of a series of uniform stanzas, complex in
their metrical system and rhyme scheme. The Greek form is called an Aeolic
ode. Horatian odes are characteristically less elaborate and more restrained
than Pindaric odes.
Hovering Accent - In scansion, a stress which is thought of as being equally
distributed over two adjacent syllables, a concept proposed to cover an
accent not in alignment with the expected metrical ictus.
Hudibrastic Verse - A mock-heroic humorous poem written in octosyllabic
couplets, after Hudibras, a satirical poem by Samuel Butler.
Hymn - A song or ode of praise, usually addressed to gods, but sometimes to
abstractions such as Truth, Justice, or Fortune.
Hypallage - A type of hyperbaton involving an interchange of elements in a
phrase or sentence so that a displaced word is in a grammatical relationship
with another that it does not logically qualify.
Hyperbaton - An inversion of the normal grammatical word order; it may range
from a single word moved from its usual place to a pair of words inverted or
to even more extremes of syntactic displacement. Specific types of
hyperbaton are anastrophe, hypallage, and hysteron proteron.
Hyperbole - 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.
Hypercatalectic - Having an additional syllable after the final complete
foot in a line of verse. A verse marked by hypercatalexis is called
Hypermetrical - A line which contains a redundant syllable or syllables at
variance with the regular metrical pattern.
Hysteron Proteron - Related to the hyperbaton, a figure of speech in which
the natural or logical order of events is reversed.
Iamb - 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.
Ictus - The recurring stress or accent in a rhythmic or metrical series of
sounds; also, the mark indicating the syllable on which such stress or
Idealism - The artistic theory or practice that affirms the preeminent
values of ideas and imagination, as compared with the faithful portrayal of
nature in realism.
Identical Rhyme - See Perfect Rhyme
Idyll or Idyl - A pastoral poem, usually brief, stressing the picturesque
aspects of country life, or a longer narrative poem generally descriptive of
pastoral scenes and written in a highly finished style.
Imagery,Image - The elements in a literary work used to evoke mental images,
not only of the visual sense, but of sensation and emotion as well. While
most commonly used in reference to figurative language, imagery is a
variable term which can apply to any and all components of a poem that evoke
sensory experience, whether figurative or literal, and also applies to the
concrete things so imaged. Basically, it is the representation of one thing
Imagism - A 20th century movement in poetry advocating free verse, new
rhythmic effects, colloquial language and the expression of ideas and
emotions with clear, well-defined images, rather than through romanticism or
Imitation- See Mimesis
Imperfect Rhyme - See Near Rhyme
Impressionism- As applied to poetry, a late 19th century movement embracing
imagism and symbolism, which sought to portray the effects (or poet's
impressions), rather than the objective characteristics of life and events.
Improvisatore - An improviser of verse, usually extemporaneously.
Incremental Repetition - The repetition in each stanza--of a ballad, for
example--of part of the preceding stanza, usually with a slight change in
wording for effect. Initial Rhyme - See Alliteration
In Medias Res - The literary device of beginning a narrative, such as an
epic poem, at a crucial point in the middle of a series of events. The
intent is to create an immediate interest from which the author can then
move backward in time to narrate the story.
Interior Monologue - A narrative technique in which action and external
events are conveyed indirectly through a fictional character's mental
soliloquy of thoughts and associations.
Interlocking rhyme - See Chain Rhyme
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 at the line end and a word within the line.
Invective - See Lampoon
Inversion - See Hyperbaton
Invocation - See Apostrophe
Ionic - A metrical foot of four syllables, either two long syllables
followed by two short syllables (greater Ionic) or two short syllables
followed by two long syllables (lesser Ionic); also, a verse or meter
composed of Ionic feet.
Irony - Verbal irony is a figure of speech in the form of an expression in
which the use of words is the opposite of the thought in the speaker's mind,
thus conveying a meaning that contradicts the literal definition, as when a
doctor might say to his patient, " the bad news is that the operation was
successful." Dramatic or situational irony is a literary or theatrical
device of having a character utter words which the the reader or audience
understands to have a different meaning, but of which the character himself
is unaware. Irony of fate is when a situation occurs which is quite the
reverse of what one might have expected.
Isometric composition - the opposite of 'heterometric', i.e. verse that has
lines all of the same number of feet.
Italian Sonnet - a fourteen-line verse form consisting of rhyme scheme
a-b-b-a-a-b-b-a for the first 8 lines, followed by any rhyme scheme for the
final 6 lines so long as it consists of 3 rhyme pairs and it avoids a final
rhymed couplet. (eg a-c-c-d-e-d-e)
Katauta (japanese form of poetry) An unrhymed three line poem the the following syllable counts. Line 1:5 syllables Line 2: 7 syllables Line 3: 7 syllables
Kenning - A compound word or phrase similar to an epithet, but which
involves a multi-noun replacement for a single noun, such as wave traveller
for boat or whale-path for ocean, used especially in Old English, Old Norse
and early Teutonic poetry. A type of periphrasis, some kennings are
instances of metonymy or synecdoche.
King's English - The standard, pure or correct English speech or usage, also
called Queen's English.
A Kyrielle is a French form of rhyming poetry written in quatrains (a stanza consisting of 4 lines), and each quatrain contains a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the poem consists of only eight syllables. There is no limit to the amount of stanzas a Kyrielle may have, but three is considered the accepted minimum. Some popular rhyming schemes for a Kyrielle are: aabB, ccbB, ddbB, with B being the repeated line, or abaB, cbcB, dbdB. Mixing up the rhyme scheme is possible for an unusual pattern of: axaZ, bxbZ, czcZ, dxdZ, etc. with Z being the repeated line.
The rhyme pattern is completely up to the poet.
A Kyrielle Sonnet consists of 14 lines (three rhyming quatrain stanzas and a non-rhyming couplet). Just like the traditional Kyrielle poem, the Kyrielle Sonnet also has a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the Kyrielle Sonnet consists of only eight syllables. French poetry forms have a tendency to link back to the beginning of the poem, so common practice is to use the first and last line of the first quatrain as the ending couplet. This would also re-enforce the refrain within the poem. Therefore, a good rhyming scheme for a Kyrielle Sonnet would be: AabB, ccbB, ddbB, AB -or- AbaB, cbcB, dbdB, AB.
Lai - A medieval narrative or lyric poem which flourished in 12th century
France, consisting of couplets of five-syllabled lines separated by single
lines of two syllables. The number of lines and stanzas was not fixed and
each stanza had only two rhymes, one rhyme for the couplets and the other
for the two-syllabled lines. Succeeding stanzas formed their own rhymes.
Lampoon - A bitter, abusive satire in prose or verse attacking an
individual. Motivated by malice, it is intended solely to reproach and
Language-centered Poetry - where the forms of the words themselves are more
significant than the sense or meanings of the words.
Lay - Originally the Anglicized term for the French lai. It became popular
in 14th century England as the Breton lay, written in a spirit similar to
the French lais. In the 19th century the term, lay, was sometimes used by
English poets for short historical ballads or narrative poetry of moderate
Leonine Ve rse - Named for a 12th century poet, Leonius, who first composed
such verse, it consists of hexameters or of hexameters and pentameters in
which the final syllable rhymes with one preceding the caesura, in the
middle of the line.
Light Verse - A loose catch-all term describing poetry written with a
relaxed attitude and ordinary tone on trivial, mundane, or frivolous themes.
It is intended to amuse and entertain and is frequently distinguished by
sophistication, wit, word-play, elegance, and technical competence. Among
the numerous forms of light verse are clerihews, double dactyls, epigrams,
limericks, nonsense poetry, occasional poetry, parodies, society verse, and
verse with puns or riddles.
Limerick - A light or humorous verse form of five chiefly anapestic verses
of which lines one, two and five are of three feet and lines three and four
are of two feet, with a rhyme scheme of aabba. The limerick, named for a
town in Ireland of that name, was popularized by Edward Lear in his Book of
Nonsense published in 1846.
Here's Webster's definition of limerick:
"a nonsense poem of five anapestic lines, usually with the rhyme scheme aabba, the first, second and fifth lines having three stresses, the third and forth, two: th eform was popularized by Edward Lear. Example:
A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the flea, "Let us fly!"
Said the fly, "Let us flee!"
So they flew through a flaw in the flue."
Line - A unit in the structure of a poem consisting of one or more metrical
feet arranged as a rhythmical entity.
List Poem - See Catalog Verse
Lira---This is a Spanish style of poetry that utilizes a couple of eleven syllable lines. This is interesting, because most of the romance languages use 11 syllable lines commonly in their poetry...English being the major exception. The Lira is composed of stanzas of 5 lines with a syllable order of 7,11,7,7,11 with a rhyme scheme of ababb a note: the lira refers to a stanza of this style as well
Litotes - A type of meiosis (understatement) in which an affirmative is
expressed by the negative of the contrary.
Luc Bat --- This Vietnamese form (pronounced Luk-BAHT, meaning "six-eight"), alternates odd-number lines of six syllables and even-number line. The eighth (the last) syllable of each even-number line rhymes with the sixth syllable of the following odd-numbered line. AND, the poems's last line must rhyme with the first.
Lyric Verse - One of the main groups of poetry, the others being narrative
and dramatic. By far the most frequently used form in modern poetic
literature, the term lyric includes all poems in which the speaker's ardent
expression of a (usually single) emotional element predominates. Ranging
from complex thoughts to the simplicity of playful wit, the power and
personality of lyric verse is of far greater importance than the subject
treated. Often brief, but sometimes extended in a long elegy or a meditative
ode, the melodic imagery of skillfully written lyric poetry evokes in the
reader's mind the recall of similar emotional experiences.
Macaronic Verse - Originally, poetry in which words of different languages
were mixed together or, more strictly, words in the poet's venacular were
given the inflectional endings of another language, usually for humorous or
satiric effect. In modern times, however, in recognition of the multilingual
relationships of sound and sense between different languages, it is used
most often with serious intent, thus transformed from a species of comic or
nonsense verse into poetry characterized by scholarly techniques of
composition, allusion, and structure.
Madrigal - A short medieval lyric or pastoral poem expressing a simple
Malapropism - A mistaken substitution of one word for another that sounds
similar, generally with humorous effect, as in "arduous romance" for "ardent
Marinism - Excessive ornateness marked by the use of extravagant metaphors,
so named from the 17th century Italian poet, Giambattista Marino, and his
school of followers.
Masculine Rhyme - A rhyme occurring in words of one syllable or in an
accented final syllable, such as light and sight or arise and surprise.
Measure - Poetic rhythm or cadence as determined by the syllables in a line
of poetry with respect to quantity and accent; also, meter; also, a metrical
Meiosis - An understatement; the presentation of a thing with under emphasis
in order to achieve a greater effect.
Meistersingers - Members of various German trade guilds formed in the 15th
and 16th centuries by merchants and craftsmen for the cultivation of poetry
and music, succeeding the Minnesingers.
Melic Verse - Capable of being sung. The term is derived from an ornate form
of Greek lyric poetry of the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.
Mesostich - See Acrostic Poem
Metaphor - 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.
Metaphysical - Of or relating to a group of 17th century poets whose verse
was distinguished by an intellectual and philosophical style, with extended
metaphors or conceits comparing very dissimilar things.
Meter or Metre - 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. In classic Greek and Latin
versification, meter depended on the way long and short syllables were
arranged to succeed one another, but in English the distinction is between
accented and unaccented syllables. The unit of measure is the foot. Metrical
lines are named for the type of constituent foot and for the number of feet
in the line: monometer (1), dimeter (2), trimeter (3), tetrameter (4),
pentameter (5), hexameter (6), heptameter (7) and octameter (8); thus, a
line containing five iambic feet, for example, would be called iambic
pentameter. Rarely does a metrical line exceed six feet.
Metonymy - A figure of speech involving the substitution of one noun for
another of which it is an attribute or which is closely associated with it,
e.g., "the kettle boils" or "he drank the cup." Metonymy is very similar to
Metrical Pause - A "rest" or "hold" that has a temporal value, usually to
compensate for the omission of an unstressed syllable in a foot.
Metrical Substitution - small variations within a metrical pattern
Metrics - The branch of prosody concerned with meter.
Middle Rhyme - See Internal Rhyme
Miltonic - Pertaining to the poetry or style of the poet, John Milton, one
of the most respected figures in English literature.
Mimesis - Literally, imitation or realistic representation -- but its poetic
significance is more specific: it refers to the combination of sound in
phonetic symbolism and onomatopoeia (sound suggestion) with the connotative,
symbolic, and synesthetic effects of the words themselves and their
syntactic arrangement to resemble, reinforce, shape, and temper their
lexical sense in a manner that mirrors the meaning.
Minnesingers - Lyric poets of Germany in the 12th to 14th centuries, all men
of noble birth who received royal patronage and who wrote mainly of courtly
love. They were succeeded by the Meistersingers.
Minstrel - In the Middle Ages, the general term for a performer who
subsisted by reciting verse and singing, usually accompanied by a harp. Some
minstrels were travelling entertainers; others were permanently employed by
Minstrelsy - The art and occupation of minstrels; also, a collection of
minstrel songs or a group of musicians or minstrels.
Mixed Metaphor - A metaphor whose elements are either incongruent or
contradictory by the use of incompatible identifications, such as "the dog
pulled in its horns" or "to take arms against a sea of troubles."
Mock-Epic or Mock-Heroic - A satiric literary form that treats a trivial or
commonplace subject with the elevated language and heroic style of the
Modulation - In poetry, the harmonious use of language relative to the
variations of stress and pitch.
Molossus - In Greek and Latin verse, a metrical foot consisting of three
Monody - A poem in which one person laments another's death.
Monometer - A line of verse consisting of a single metrical foot or dipody.
Monorhyme - A poem in which all the lines have the same end rhyme.
Monostich - A poem or epigram of a single metrical line.
Monosyllable - A word of one syllable.
Mood - See Tone
Mora pl. Morae - The minimal unit of rhythmic measurement in quantitive
verse, equivalent to the time it takes to pronounce an ordinary or average
short syllable; two morae are equivalent to a long syllable.
Mosaic Rhyme - A rhyme in which two or more words produce a multiple rhyme,
either with two or more other words, as go for / no more, or with one longer
word, as cop a plea / monopoly. It is usually used for comic effect.
Motif - A thematic element recurring frequently in literature, such as the
dawn song of an aubade or the carpe diem motif.
Narrative - The narration of an event or story, stressing details of plot,
incident and action. Along with dramatic and lyric verse, it is one of the
main groups of poetry.
Near Rhyme - Also called approximate rhyme, slant rhyme, off rhyme,
imperfect rhyme or half rhyme, a rhyme in which the sounds are similar, but
not exact, as in home and come or close and lose. Most near rhymes are types
Neologism - The use of new words or new meanings for old words not yet
included in standard definitions, as in the recent application of the word
cool to denote, very good, excellent or fashionable. Some disappear from
usage, others like hip and feedback, for example, remain in the language.
Nonce Word - From the expression, for the nonce, a word coined or used for a
special circumstance or occasion only.
Nonsense Poetry - Poetry which is absurd, foolish or preposterous, usually
written in a catchy meter with strong rhymes. It often contains neologisms
or portmanteau words.
Normative rhyme - the duplication, at the ends of two or more lines of a
given poem, for SOME of the sounds in the last stressed syllable of those
lines, plus duplication of ALL the sounds in any weakly stressed syllables
that might follow the stressed syllable. The vowel of the stressed syllable,
and any consonant sound that might follow it, must be the same in both
rhyming words. But the consonant sound that precedes the vowel of the
stressed syllable should be DIFFERENT on each rhyming word. Eg 'so/go',
'lotion/motion', but NOT 'relate/late'.
Numen - A spiritual source or influence, often identified with a natural
object, phenomenon or place.
Nursery Rhyme - A short poem for children written in rhyming verse and
handed down in folklore.
Objectivism - A type of 20th century poetry in which objects are selected
and portrayed for their own particular value, rather than their symbolic
quality or the intellectual concept of the author.
Occasional Poem - A poem written for a particular occasion, such as a
dedication, birthday, or victory. The encomium, elegy, prothalamium, and
epithalamium are examples of occasional poems.
Octameter - A line of verse consisting of eight metrical feet.
Octave - A stanza of eight lines, especially the first eight lines of an
Italian or Petrarchan sonnet.
Octosyllable - A metrical line of eight syllables, such as iambic,
tetrameter, or a poem composed of eight-syllable lines.
Ode - A type of lyric or melic verse, usually irregular rather than uniform,
generally of considerable length, and sometimes continuous, sometimes
divided in accordance with transitions of thought and mood in a complexity
of stanzaic forms; it often has varying iambic line lengths with no fixed
system of rhyme schemes and is always marked by the rich, intense expression
of an elevated thought, often addressed to a praised person or object.
Odeon or Odeum - A small roofed theater in ancient antiquity devoted to the
presentation of musical and poetic works to the public in competition for
Off Rhyme - a near rhyme, such as 'down/noon', 'seat/fate'
Onomatopoeia - 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.
Open Couplet - A couplet of the Romantic period with run-on lines, in which
the thought was carried beyond the rhyming lines of the couplet. Ottava
Rima - Originally Italian, a stanza of eight lines of heroic verse, rhyming
Ottava Rima - verse form of eight lines in rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-a-b-c- c. Eg
Ariosto's 'Orlando Furioso' and Byron's 'Don Juan'
Oxymoron - The conjunction of words which, at first view, seem to be
contradictory or incongruous, but whose surprising juxtaposition expresses a
truth or dramatic effect, such as, cool fire, deafening silence, wise folly,
Paeon - In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of four syllables, one
long and three short. The position of the long syllable can be varied in
four ways, thus the foot can be called a primus, secundus, tertius or
Palindrome - A word, verse, or sentence in which the sequence of letters is
the same forward and backward, as the word, madam, or the sentence, "A man,
a plan, a canal: Panama." A variation in which the sequence of words is the
same forward and backward is called a word-order palindrome.
Palinode or Palinody - A poem in which the poet contradicts or retracts
something in an earlier poem. Panegyric - A speech or poem of elaborate
praise for some distinguished person, object or event, similar to, but more
formal than, an encomium.
Pantoum - A poem in a fixed form, consisting of a varying number of 4-line
stanzas with lines rhyming alternately; the second and fourth lines of each
stanza are repeated to form the first and third lines of the succeeding
stanza, with the first and third lines of the first stanza forming the
second and fourth of the last stanza, but in reverse order, so that the
opening and closing lines of the poem are identical.
Paradox - 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.
Paradelle---The paradelle is a 4 stanza poem with a very strict line and word format. In the first three stanzas you will repeat lines 1 and 3 and then use all of the words in line 5 and 6. Line 1: A new line Line 2: Repeat line 1 Line 3: A new line Line 4: Repeat line 3 Line 5 & 6: Construct a line using ALL of the words from Lines 1 and 3 above. Repeat this format for until you have three stanzas. Final Stanza: ( a real challenge to write ) In the final stanza, you must use every word from the three previous stanzas.
Parallelism - The repetition of syntactical similarities in passages closely
connected for rhetorical effect. The repetitive structure lends wit or
emphasis to the meanings of the separate clauses, thus being particularly
effective in antithesis.
Parnassian - Of or related to poetry, after Parnassus, a mountain in Greece
with two summits; one summit was consecrated to Bacchus, the other to Apollo
and the Muses, thus Parnassus was regarded as the seat of poetry and music.
Parody - A ludicrous imitation, usually for comic effect but sometimes for
ridicule, of the style and content of another work. The humor depends upon
the reader's familiarity with the original.
Paronomasia - A play on words in which the same word is used in different
senses or words similar in sound are used in opposition to each other for a
rhetorical contrast; a pun. For an example, see Well-Versed.
Paronym - A word derived from or related to another word; also, the form in
one language for a word in another, as in the English canal for the Latin
Pasquinade - A lampoon or satirical writing.
Pastiche - An artistic effort that imitates or caricatures the work of
Pastoral Elegy - Elegy
Pastoral Poetry - Poetry idealizing the lives of shepherds and country folk,
although the term is often used loosely to include any poems with a rural
Pastourelle - A form of pastoral poetry associated chiefly with French
writers of the 12th and 13th centuries. Typically, the narrator, identified
as a knight, recounts his love affair with a shepherdess.
Pathetic Fallacy - The ascribing of human traits or feelings to inanimate
nature for eloquent effect, especially feelings in sympathy with those
expressed or experienced by the writer.
Pathos - An element in artistic expression evoking pity, sorrow or
Pattern Poetry - Poetry in which the letters, words, and lines are
configured in such a way that the poem's printed appearance on the page
forms a recognizable outline related to the subject, thus conveying or
extending the meaning of the words.
Pause - See Caesura and Metrical Pause
Pentameter - A line of verse consisting of five metrical feet.
Perfect Rhyme - Also called true rhyme or exact rhyme, a rhyme which meets
the following requirements: (1) an exact correspondence in the vowel sound
and, in words ending in consonants, the sound of the final consonant, (2) a
difference in the consonant sounds preceding the vowel, and (3) a similarity
of accent on the rhyming syllable(s).
Periphrasis - The substitution of an elaborate phrase in place of a simple
word or expression, as "fragrant beverage drawn from China's herb" for tea.
Persona - The speaker or voice of a literary work, i.e., who is doing the
talking. Thus persona is the "I" of a narrative or the implied speaker of a
Personification - A type of metaphor in which distinctive human
characteristics, e.g., honesty, emotion, volition, etc., are attributed to
an animal, object or idea.
Petrarchan Sonnet - An Italian sonnet form perfected by Petrarch
(1304-1374), characterized by an octave with a rhyme scheme of abbaabba and
a sestet rhyming variously, but usually cdecde or cdccdc. The octave
typically introduces the theme or problem, with the sestet providing the
Phonetic Symbolism - Sound suggestiveness; the association of particular
word-sounds with common areas of meaning so that other words of similar
sounds come to be associated with those meanings. Also called sound
symbolism, it is utilized by poets to achieve sounds appropriate to their
Picaresque - The term applied to literature dealing sympathetically with the
adventures of clever and amusing rogues.
Pierian - Of or relating to learning or poetry, after the region of Pieria
in ancient Macedonia which once worshipped the Muses.
Pindaric Verse - In Greek literature, a poem designed for song, of various
meters and of lofty style, patterned after the odes of the classical Greek
poet, Pindar. Though metrically complex, and varying from one ode to
another, Pindaric verse, also called Dorian or choric odes, regularly
consists of a similarly-structured strophe and an antistrophe, followed by
an epode of different length and structure.
Play on Words - See Paronomasia, Pun
Pleiad or Pleiade - Named after the open cluster in the constellation
Taurus, a group of 16th century French poets who sought to restore the level
of French poetry from its decline in the Middle Ages to classical standards
as well as to enhance the richness of the French language.
Pleonasm - Redundancy; the use of more words than necessary to express the
sense of a thing, but which often stress or enrich the thought, such as, "I
touched it with my own hands" or "a tiny little acorn."
Ploce - The general term for a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is
repeated in close proximity within a clause or line, usually for emphasis or
for extended significance, as "A wife who was a wife indeed" or "there are
medicines and medicines."
Poem - A rhythmic expression of feelings or ideas, often using metaphor,
meter and rhyme.
Poems of Chance - Poetry created by adherents of the dadaistic movement,
composed by writing down, without alteration, an illogical chance
association of words, free of the limitations of rational and artistic
Poesy or Poesie - A poem or a group of poems, i.e., poetry. The term also
refers to the art of writing poems, often used in the sense of trite or
sentimentalized poetic writing.
Poet - A writer of poetry.
Poetaster - An inadequate writer of verses, an inferior poet.
Poetic License - The liberties generally allowable for a poet to take with
his subject-matter to achieve a desired effect or with his grammatical
construction, etc., to conform to the requirements of rhyme and meter; but
in a broader sense, it includes "creative" deviations from historical fact,
such as anachronisms.
Poetics - Literary study or criticism on the nature and laws of poetic
theory and practice; also, a treatise on poetry or aesthetics.
Poeticule - A dabbler in poetry; a poetaster.
Poet Laureate - A poet honored for his artistic achievement or selected as
most representative of his country or area; in England, a court official
appointed by the sovereign, whose original duties included the composition
of odes in honor of the sovereign's birthday and in celebration of State
occasions of importance.
Poetry - A literary expression in which language is used in a concentrated
blend of sound and imagery to create an emotional response; essentially
rhythmic, it is usually metrical and frequently structured in stanzas.
Poets' Corner - A portion of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey, which
contains the remains of many famous literary figures, including Chaucer and
Spenser, and also displays memorials to others who are buried elsewhere.
Polyphonic Prose - A type of free verse using characteristic devices of
verse such as alliteration and assonance, but presented in a form resembling
Polyptoton - A figure of speech in which a word is repeated in a different
form of the same root or stem, as Shakespeare's "Then thou, whose shadow
shadows doth make bright" or repeated with its word class changed into a
different part of speech, as Tennyson's "My own heart's heart, and my ownest
Polyrhythmic Verse - A type of free verse characterized by a variety of
rhythms, often non-integrated or contrasting.
Polysyllable - A word consisting of several syllables. It is most often
applied to words of more than three syllables.
Polysyndeton - The repetition of a number of conjunctions in close
succession, as in, "We have men and arms and planes and tanks."
Portmanteau Word - An artificial word made up of parts of others, so called
because of two meanings combined in one word.
Poulter's Measure - A meter consisting of alternate Alexandrines and
fourteeners, i.e., twelve-syllable and fourteen-syllable lines, a common
measure in Elizabethan times.
Proceleusmatic - A metrical foot consisting of four short syllables.
Procephalic - In ancient prosody, having an excess of one syllable in the
first foot of a line of verse.
Prolepsis - The application of an adjective to a noun in anticipation of the
action of the verb.
Prose - Ordinary language people use in speaking or writing, distinguished
from the language of poetry primarily in that the line is not treated as a
formal unit and it has no repetitive pattern of rhythm or meter.
Prose Poem - A genre in the poetic spectrum between free verse and prose. It
is distinguished by the poetic characteristics of rhythmic, aural, and
syntactic repetition, compression of thought, sustained intensity, and
patterned structure, but is set on the page in a continuous sequence of
sentences as in prose, without line breaks.
Prosody - The general term for the structure of poetry; the science of
versification according to syllabic quantity, accent, etc.; the systematic
study of poetic meter. All types of metrical feet, patterns of sound and
rhyme, kinds of stanzaic forms, etc., fall within its domain.
Prosopopeia - A figure of speech in which an imaginary or absent person is
represented as speaking.
Prothalamium or Prothalamion - A song or poem in honor of a bride and
bridegroom before their wedding.
Proverb - A brief, pithy popular saying or epigram embodying some familiar
truth, practical interpretation of experience, or useful thought.
Pun - A word play suggesting, with humorous intent, the different meanings
of one word or the use of two or more words similar in sound but different
Pyrrhic - Common in classic Greek poetry, a metrical foot consisting of two
short or unaccented syllables, as in the third foot of: The slings | and ar
| rows of | outra | geous for | tune
Quantitive Verse - Verse which, rather than on the syllabic count or accent,
is based on a systematic succession of long and short syllables, i.e.,
syllables which take a longer or shorter quantity of time to pronounce. When
the lines are properly read, with the speed of articulation determined by
varying vowel length and consonant groupings, the rhythmic pattern develops
naturally. The unit of measure in quantitive verse is the mora.
Quatorzain - A sonnet or any poem of fourteen lines.
Quatrain - A poem, unit or stanza of four lines of verse, usually with a
rhyme scheme of abab or its variant, xbyb. It is the most common stanzaic
Queen's English - See King's English
Quintet or Quintain - A poem, unit or stanza of five lines of verse.
Quinzaine - The English word quinzaine come from the French word qunize, meaning fifteen. A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables. These syllables are distributed among three lines so that there are seven syllables in the first line, five in the second line and three in the third line. The first line makes a statement. The next two lines ask a question relating to that statement
Realism - The endeavor to portray an accurate representation of nature and
real life without idealization.
Reduplicated Words - See Ricochet Words
Refrain - A phrase or line, generally pertinent to the central topic, which
is repeated verbatim, usually at regular intervals throughout a poem, most
often at the end of a stanza. Occasionally a single word is used as a
Repetend - The irregular repetition of a word, phrase, or line in a poem. It
is a type of refrain, but differs in that it can appear at various places in
the poem and may be only a partial repetition.
Repetition - A basic artistic device, fundamental to any conception of
poetry. It is a highly effective unifying force; the repetition of sound,
syllables, words, syntactic elements, lines, stanzaic forms, and metrical
patterns establishes cycles of expectation which are reinforced with each
Resonance - The quality of richness or variety of sounds in poetic texture.
Responsion - when stanzas are of the same meter, the same rhyme scheme and
same number of lines they are 'in responsion'
Rhapsody - The recitation of a short epic poem or a longer epic abridged for
Rhetoric - The art of speaking or writing effectively; skill in the eloquent
use of language.
Rhetorical Question - A question solely for effect, with no answer expected.
By the implication that the answer is obvious, it is a means of achieving an
emphasis stronger than a direct statement.
Rhopalic - Having each succeeding unit in a poetic structure longer than the
preceding one. Applied to a line, it means that each successive word is a
syllable longer that its predecessor. Applied to a stanza, each successive
line is longer by either a syllable or a metrical foot.
Rhopalic verse is also called wedge verse.
Rhyme - 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, but the preceding consonant sounds must differ, as in the
words, bear and care. In a poetic sense, however, rhyme refers to a close
similarity of sound as well as an exact correspondence; it includes the
agreement of vowel sounds in assonance and the repetition of consonant
sounds in consonance and alliteration. Usually, but not always, rhymes occur
at the ends of lines.
Rhyme Royal - A stanza of seven lines of heroic or five-foot iambic verse,
rhyming ababbcc. It probably received its name from its use by King James I
of Scotland, who was both king and a poet. It was previously known as
Troilus verse because Chaucer used it in his Troilus and Criseyde.
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, such as the ababbcc of the Rhyme
Royal stanza form.
Rhymester - An inferior poet.
Rhyming Slang - A slang popular in Great Britain in the early part of the
20th century, in which a word was replaced by a word or phrase that rhymed
with it, as loaf of bread for head. When the rhyme was a compound word or
part of a phrase, the rhyming part was often dropped, so in the foregoing
example, loaf would come to stand for head.
Rhythm - 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.
Rich Rhyme - See Perfect Rhyme
Ricochet Words - Hyphenated words, usually formed by reduplicating a word
with a change in the radical vowel or the initial consonant sound, such as
pitter- patter, chit-chat, riff-raff, wishy-washy, hob-nob, roly-poly,
pell-mell, razzle-dazzle, etc.
Rictameter--This is a form of verse called rictameter. The 1st and last lines are the same words. Line 1= 2 syllables, line 2=4, line 3=6, line 4= 8, line 5= 10, line 6=8, line 7=6, line 8=4 and line 9 =2. So it's 2,4,6,8,10,8,6,4,2 syllables.
Riding Rhyme - An early form of heroic verse, so named for its use by
Chaucer to describe the riding of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales.
Romance - Formerly a medieval tale in mixed prose and verse describing
marvelous adventures of a hero of chivalry, it later came to mean a short
Romanticism - An 18th century movement revolting against the conventional
strictness of neo-classicism and placing artistic emphasis on imagination
and the emotions.
Rondeau - A fixed form used mostly in light or witty verse, usually
consisting of fifteen octo - or decasyllabic lines in three stanzas, with
only two rhymes used throughout. A word or words from the first part of the
first line are used as a (usually unrhymed) refrain ending the second and
third stanzas, so the rhyme scheme is aabba aabR aabbaR.
Rondel - A variation of the rondeau in which the first two lines of the
first stanza are repeated as the last two lines of the second and third
stanzas, thus a rhyme scheme of ABba abAB abbaA(B). (Sometimes only the
first line of the poem is repeated at the end.)
Rondelet - A short variation of the rondeau consisting generally of one
7-line stanza with two rhymes. The first line has four syllables and is
repeated as a refrain forming the third and seventh lines; the other lines
have eight syllables each.
Roundel - A variation of the rondeau devised by A. C. Swinburne,
demonstrated in his poem, "The Roundel." He shortened the stanzas and moved
the first refrain from the second to the first stanza, thus revising the
rhyme scheme to abaR bab abaR.
Roundelay - A poem with a refrain repeated frequently or at fixed intervals,
as in a rondel.
Rune - A Finnish or Old Norse poem.
Run-on Couplet - See Open Couplet
Run-on Lines - Lines in which the thought continues into the next line, as
opposed to end-stopped.
Sapphic Verse - After the odes of the Greek lyric poet, Sappho, a verse of
eleven syllables in five feet, of which the first, fourth and fifth are
trochees, the second a spondee, and the third a dactyl. The Sapphic strophe
consists of three Sapphic verses followed by an Adonic.
Satire - 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 of social wrongs. It may
be written with witty jocularity or with anger and bitterness.
Scan - To mark off lines of poetry into rhythmic units, or feet, to provide
a visual representation of their metrical structure.
Scansion - The analysis of line rhythms performed by scanning the lines to
determine their metrical categorization, e.g., iambic trimeter, etc., as a
way of describing the rhythmical quality of a poem. Scansion will also show
the variations in the meter and the deviations from it, if there are any.
Scop - An Old English poet or a poet troubadour of early Teutonic poetry.
Senryu - A three-line unrhymed Japanese poetic form structurally similar to
the haiku, but dealing with human rather than physical nature, usually in an
ironic or satiric vein.
Sense Pause - See Caesura
Septenarius - A verse consisting of seven feet.
Septet - A stanza of seven lines.
Serenade - A lover's song or poem of the evening.
Serpentine Verses - Verses ending with the same word with which they begin.
Sestet - A stanza of six lines, especially the last six lines of an Italian
or Petrarchan sonnet.
Sestina - A fixed form consisting of six 6-line (usually unrhymed) stanzas
in which the end words of the first stanza recur as end words of the
following five stanzas in a successively rotating order and as the middle
and end words of each of the lines of a concluding envoi in the form of a
tercet. The usual ending word order for a sestina is as follows:
First stanza, 1- 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
Second stanza, 6 - 1 - 5 - 2 - 4 - 3
Third stanza, 3 - 6 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 5
Fourth stanza, 5 - 3 - 2 - 6 - 1 - 4
Fifth stanza, 4 - 5 - 1 - 3 - 6 - 2
Sixth stanza, 2 - 4 - 6 - 5 - 3 - 1
Concluding tercet: middle of first line - 2, end of first line - 5 middle
of second line - 4, end of second line - 3 middle if third line - 6, end of
third line - 1
Shaped Verse - See Pattern Poetry
Sicilian Octave - The Sicilian octave is an 8-line stanza rhyming abababab. According to some authorities, the lines should be hendecasyllables (i.e. 11-syllables long); according to others, iambic pentameter is fine.
Sight Rhyme - Words which are similar in spelling but different in
pronunciation, like mow and how or height and weight. Some words that are
sight rhymes today did have a correspondence of sound in earlier stages of
Sigmatism - The intentional repetition of words with sibilant speech sounds
closely spaced in a line of poetry, as in, She sells sea-shells by the sea
Sijo - A short Korean poetic form consisting of three lines, each line
having a total of 14-16 syllables in four groups ranging from 2 to 7 (but
usually 3 or 4) syllables, with a natural pause at the end of the second
group and a major pause after the fourth group. The third line often
introduces a resolution, a touch of humor, or a turn of thought. Though
there are no restrictions on the subject matter, favored ones include
nature, virtue and rural life. The unique texture of the sijo derives from
the blend of sound, rhythm and meaning. Western sijos are sometimes divided
at the pauses and presented in six lines.
Simile - A figure of speech in which an explicit comparison is made between
two essentially unlike things, usually using like, as or than.
Skald - An ancient Scandinavian poet or bard.
Skeltonics - Named for their inventor, John Skelton, short verses of
irregular meter with two or three stresses, sometimes in falling and
sometimes in rising rhythm and usually with rhymed couplets.
Slant Rhyme - See Near Rhyme
Society Verse - A short lyrical poem written in an urbane manner or crisp,
animated and typically ironic light verse dealing with contemporaneous
Solecism - An impropriety of speech; a violation of the established rules of
Soliloquy - A talking to oneself; the discourse of a person speaking to
himself, whether alone or in the presence of others. It gives the illusion
of being unspoken reflections.
Sonnet - A fixed form consisting of fourteen lines of five-foot iambic
verse. In the English or Shakespearean sonnet, the lines are grouped in
three quatrains (with six alternating rhymes) followed by a detached rhymed
couplet which is usually epigrammatic. In the original Italian form, the
fourteen lines are divided into an octave of two rhyme- sounds arranged abba
abba and a sestet of two additional rhyme sounds which may be variously
arranged. This latter form tends to divide the thought into two opposing or
complementary phases of the same idea.
Sonneteer - A composer of sonnets; also, the term is sometimes applied to a
minor or insignificant poet.
Sotadic or Sotadean - See Palindrome
Sound Devices - Resources used by writers of verse to convey and reinforce
the meaning or experience of poetry through the skillful use of sound.
Sound Symbolism - See Phonetic Symbolism
Speaker - See Persona
Spenserian Stanza - A stanza devised by Spenser for The Faerie Queene,
founded on the Italian ottava rima. It is a stanza of nine iambic lines, all
of ten syllables except the last, which is an Alexandrine. There are only
three rhymes in a stanza, arranged in a ababbcbcc rhyme scheme.
Split Rhyme - See Broken Rhyme
Spondee - A metrical foot with two long or equally accented syllables
together, as in bread box or shoeshine. Be the | green grass | above | me
Sprung Rhyme - A poetic rhythm characterized by feet varying from one to
four syllables which are equal in time length but different in the number of
syllables. It has only one stress per foot, falling on the first syllable,
or on the only syllable if there is but one, which produces the frequent
juxtaposition of single accented syllables.
Stanza or Stanzaic - 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. A poem with such divisions is
described as having a stanzaic form, but not all verse is divided in
Stanza Forms - The names given to describe the number of lines in a stanzaic
unit, such as: couplet (2), tercet (3), quatrain (4), quintet (5), sestet
(6), septet (7) and octave (8),Some stanzas follow a set rhyme scheme and
meter in addition to the number of lines and are given specific names to
describe them, such as, ballad meter, ottava rima, rhyme royal, terza rima
and Spenserian stanza.
Stave - A verse, stanza or a metrical portion of a poem.
Stich - A line or verse of poetry.
Stichomythia or Stichomythy - A dramatic dialogue of lively repartee in
alternate verse lines. (When half-lines instead of whole lines are used for
this technique, it is called hemistichomythia)
Stornello Verses - Verses which include the repetition of certain words in
changing order and varied placement.
Strain - A passage or piece of poetry; a flow of eloquence, style or spirit
Stream of Consciousness - See Interior Monologue
Stress - The relative force or prominence of word sounds or syllables in
verse, i.e., the degree of accent.
Strophe - In modern poetry, a stanza or rhythmic system of two or more lines
arranged as a unit. In classical poetry, a strophe is the first division in
the triadic structure of Pindaric verse, corresponding metrically to the
antistrophe which follows it; also, the stanza preceding or alternating with
the antistrophe in ancient lyric poetry.
Style - The poet's individual creative process, as determined by choices
involving diction, figurative language, rhetorical devices, sounds, and
Syllabic Verse - A type of verse distinguished primarily by the syllable
count, i.e., the number of syllables in each line, rather than by the
rhythmical arrangement of accents or time quantities.
Syllable - A word or part of a word representing a sound produced as a unit
by a single impulse of the voice, consisting of either a vowel sound alone
as in oh or a vowel with attendant consonants, as in throne.
Syllepsis - A type of zeugma in which a single word, usually a verb or
adjective, agrees grammatically with two or more other words, but
semantically with only one, thereby effecting a shift in sense with the
other, as in "colder than ice and a usurer's heart."
Symbol - An image transferred by something that stands for or represents
something else, like flag for country, or autumn for maturity. Symbols can
transfer the ideas embodied in the image without stating them.
Symbolism - A late 19th century movement reacting against realism.
Influenced by the connections between music and poetry, it sought to achieve
the effects of images and metaphors to symbolize the basic idea or emotion
of each poem.
Symploce - The repetition of a word or expression at the beginnings plus the
repetition of a word or expression at the ends of successive phrases, i. e,
a combination of both anaphora and epistrophe.
Synaeresis or Syneresis - A type of elision in which two contiguous vowels
within a word which are normally pronounced as two syllables, as in seest,
are pronounced as one syllable instead.
Synaloepha or Synalepha - A type of elision in which a vowel at the end of
one word is coalesced with one beginning the next word, as "th' embattled
Syncopation - In the quantitive verse of classical poetry, the suppression
of one syllable in a metrical pattern, with its time value either replaced
by a pause (like a musician's "rest") or by the additional lengthening of an
adjoining long syllable.
Syncope - A type of elision in which a word is contracted by removing one or
more letters or syllables from the middle, as ne'er for never, or fo'c'sle
Synecdoche - 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
Synesthesia or Synaesthesia - The perception or description of one kind of
sense impression in words normally used to describe a different sense, like
a "sweet voice" or a "velvety smile." It can be very effective for creating
Synesthetic Metaphor - A metaphor that suggests a similarity between
experiences in different senses, as "a gourmet of country music."
Synonym - One of two or more words that have the same or nearly identical
Syntax - The way in which linguistic elements (words and phrases) are
arranged to form grammatical structure.
Tag - a syllable of extra light stress at the end of a line, not counted in
the meter. Also known as 'feminine ending'.
Tagalied - See Aubade
Tail Rhyme - Also called caudate rhyme, a verse form in which rhyming lines,
usually a couplet or triplet, are followed by a tail, a line of shorter
length with a different rhyme; in a tail-rhyme stanza, the tails rhyme with
Tanka - The classic form of Japanese poetry with five unrhymed lines of
five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables to produce a concentrated
essence of a single event, image or mood.
Tautology - The unnecessary and excessive repetition of the same idea in
different words in the same sentence, as "The room was completely dark and
had no illumination," or "A breeze greeted the dusk and nightfall was
heralded by a gentle wind."
Telestich - See Acrostic Poem
Tension - The artistically satisfying equilibrium of opposing forces in a
poem, usually referring to the use of language and imagery, but often
applied to other elements, such as dramatic structure, rhythmic patterns,
and sometimes to the aesthetic value of the poem as a whole.
Tenson - A medieval competition in verse on the subject of love or gallantry
before a tribunal between rival troubadours; also, a subdivision of a
chanson composed by one of the competitors.
Tercet - A unit or group of three lines of verse, which are rhymed together
or have a rhyme scheme that interlaces with an adjoining tercet.
Terza Rima - A verse form consisting of tercets, usually in iambic
pentameter in English poetry, with a chain or interlocking rhyme scheme, as:
aba, bcb, cdc, etc. The pattern concludes with a separate line added at the
end of the poem (or each part) rhyming with the second line of the preceding
tercet or with a rhyming couplet.
Tetrabrach - See Proceleusmatic
Tetractys---A Tetractys is a 5 line poem with a syllable count of 1,2,3,4,10
Tetrameter - A line of verse consisting of four metrical feet.
Texture - The "feel" of a poem that comes from the interweaving of technical
elements, syntax, patterns of sound and meaning.
Theme - The central idea, topic, or didactic quality of a work.
Thesis - The first part of an antithetical figure of speech; also, the
unaccented or shorter part of a poetic foot.
Tmesis - The division of a compound word into two parts, with one or more
words between, as what place soever for whatsoever.
Tone - The poet's or persona's attitude in style or expression toward the
subject, e.g., loving, ironic, bitter, pitying, fanciful, solemn, etc. Tone
can also refer to the overall mood of the poem itself, in the sense of a
pervading atmosphere intended to influence the readers' emotional response
and foster expectations of the conclusion.
Tragedy - A medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the
downfall of a great person; a drama, usually in verse, portraying a conflict
between a strong-willed protagonist and a superior force such as destiny,
culminating in death or disaster.
Tragic Hero - See hamartia
Tribrach - A metrical foot of three short syllables.
Trimeter - A line of verse consisting of three metrical feet or three
Triolet - A poem or stanza of eight lines in which the first line is
repeated as the fourth and seventh lines, and the second line as the eighth,
with a rhyme scheme of ABaAabAB.
Triple Rhyme - A rhyme in which three final syllables of words have the same
sound, as in glorious and victorious.
Trisyllable - A word of three syllables.
Trochee or Trochaic - A metrical foot with a long or accented syllable
followed by a short or unaccented syllable, as in only or total, or the
opening line of Poe's "The Raven,"
Once up | on a | midnight | dreary, | while I | pondered, |weak and |weary
Troilus Verse - See Rhyme Royal
Trope - The intentional use of a word or expression figuratively, i.e., used
in a different sense from its original significance in order to give
vividness or emphasis to an idea. Some important types of trope are:
antonomasia, irony, metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche.
Troubadour - One of a class of lyric poets and poet-musicians, often of
knightly rank, who flourished from the 11th through the 13th centuries in
Southern France and neighboring areas of Italy and Spain, and who wrote of
Trouvere - One of a school of poets of northern France who flourished from
the 11th to 14th centuries and who composed mostly narrative works such as
chansons de geste and fabliaux.
Ubi Sunt - Poetic theme in which the poet asks "where are" they, where have
they gone. The theme began in Medieval Latin, with the formula ubi sunt used
to introduce a roll-call of the dead or missing and to suggest how
transitory life is.
Unmetered Poetry - poetry without a regular recurring numerical principle in
its rhythmic construction, also known as 'free verse'.
Unstressed Syllable - A syllable that is not emphasized, like the a in
aghast or the ish in churlish.
Verse - 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.
Verse Paragraph - A line grouping of varying length, as distinct from
stanzas of equal length. Seldom used in rhymed verse, it is the usual
division in blank verse.
Verset - A short verse, especially one from a sacred book.
Versicle - A little verse; also, a short passage said or sung by a leader in
public worship and followed by a response from the people.
Versification - The art of writing verses, especially with regard to meter
and rhythm. The term versification can also refer to a particular metrical
structure or style or to a version in verse of something originally written
Versifier - A writer of verse, often applied to a writer of light or
Villanelle - A poem in a fixed form, consisting of five three-line stanzas
followed by a quatrain and having only two rhymes. In the stanzas following
the first, the first and third lines of the first stanza are repeated
alternately as refrains. They are the final two lines of the concluding
Virelay - An ancient French verse form consisting of stanzas of
indeterminate length and number, with alternating long and short lines and
an interlaced rhyme scheme, as abab bcbc cdcd dada.
Visual Poetry - Poetry arranged in such a manner that its visual appearance
has an elevated significance of its own, thus achieving in an equivalence
(or even more) between the sight and sound of the poem.
Voice - the agent or agency who is speaking throughout a poem.
Volta - The place at which a distinct turn of thought occurs. The term is
most commonly used for the characteristic transition point in a sonnet, as
between the octave and sestet of a Petrarchan sonnet.
Well-Versed - A state of familiarity with poetics accomplished by reading
Whimsy or Whimsey - A fanciful or fantastic creation in writing or art.
Wordsmith A person who works with words; a skillful writer.
Wrenched Accent A forced change in the normal accent of a word syllable(s)
to make the word conform to the prevailing metrical pattern. While it may
result from faulty versification, it was conventional in the folk ballad and
is sometimes used deliberately for comic effects.
This site is viewed best at 1024 X 768 Please adjust your monitor accordingly
Just click the yellow button above to check out and hopefully by my books and BTW right now, and for a limited time only you can purchase any piece of my art that you see anywhere in my web site in the 10" X 14" size printed out on high gloss photo quality paper, signed, dated and matted in the mat color of my choice for the lower than low, never heard of before price of $25.00 per piece, plus $5.00 for S & H.