Poetry Terms GuideYour Poetry Terms Guide- For Home Use onlyAlliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds in wo...
Poetry Terms GuideDenotation: The dictionary meaning of a word. Writers typically play off a words denotativemeaning again...
Poetry Terms GuideIrony: A contrast or discrepancy between what is said and what is meant or between whathappens and what ...
Poetry Terms GuideQuatrain: A four-line stanza in a poem, the first four lines and the second four lines in aPetrachan son...
Poetry Terms GuideSpondaic: Two stressed syllables.Stanza: A division of poetry named for the number of lines it contains....
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66628571 poetry-terms-guide

  1. 1. Poetry Terms GuideYour Poetry Terms Guide- For Home Use onlyAlliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds in words such as “rough and ready.”Example: “Our gang paces the pier like an old myth.”Antithesis: An opposition, or contrast, of ideas. Example: “It was the best of times, it was theworst of time.”Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds without the repetition of consonants. Example: „Mywords like silent raindrops fell.”Ballad: A poem in verse that tells a story.Blank Verse: An unrhymed form of poetry that normally consists of ten syllables in which everyother syllable, beginning with the second, is stressed. Since blank verse is often used in very longpoems, it may depart from the strict pattern from time to time.Caesura: A pause or sudden break in a line of poetry.Canto: A main division of a long poem.Character: An imaginary person that inhabits a literary work.Characteristics: The means by which writers present and reveal character. Although techniquesof characterization are complex, writers typically reveal characters through their speech, dress,manner, and actions.Climax: The turning point of the action in the plot of a play or story.Closed Form: A type of form or structure in poetry characterized by regularity and consistency insuch elements as rhyme, line length, and metrical pattern.Complication: An intensification of the conflict in a story or play. Complication builds up,accumulates, and develops the primary or central conflict in a literary work.Conflict: A struggle between opposing forces in a story or play, usually resolved by the end ofthe work. The conflict may occur within a character as well as between characters.Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds. Although it is similar to alliteration,consonance is not limited to the first letters of words.Couplet: Two lines of verse the same length that usually rhyme.Dactyl: A stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones, as in FLUT-ter-ing or BLUE-ber-ry. 1
  2. 2. Poetry Terms GuideDenotation: The dictionary meaning of a word. Writers typically play off a words denotativemeaning against its connotations, or suggested and implied associational implications.Denouement: The resolution of the plot of a literary work.Dialogue: The conversation of characters in a literary work. In fiction, dialogue is typicallyenclosed within quotation marks. In plays, characters speech is preceded by their names.Diction: The selection of words in a literary work.Elegy: A lyric poem that laments the dead.End rhyme: The rhyming of words that appear at the ends of two or more lines of poetry.Epic: A long narrative poem that records the adventures of a hero.Enjambment: The running over of a sentence or thought from one line of poetry to another.Flashback: An interruption of a works chronology to describe or present an incident thatoccurred prior to the main time frame of a works action.Foil: A character who contrasts and parallels the main character in a play or story.Foot: The smallest repeated pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a poetic line.Foreshadowing: Hints of what is to come in the action of a play or a story.Free Verse: Poetry without a regular pattern of meter or rhyme.Haiku: A form of Japanese poetry that has three lines; the first line has five syllables, the secondhas seven syllables, and the third has five syllables. The subject of the Haiku has traditionallybeen nature.Heroic Couplet: Two successive rhyming lines that contain a complete thought.Hyperbole: An exaggeration or overstatement. Example: “I have seen this river so wide it onlyhad one bank.Iambic: An unstressed followed by a stressed syllable.Imagery: The words or phrases a writer selects to create a certain picture in the reader‟s mind.Imagery is usually based on sensory details. Example: “The sky was dark and gloomy, the airwas damp and raw, the streets were wet and sloppy.”Internal Rhyme: When the rhyming words occur in the same line of poetry. Example: “Youbreak my eyes with a look that buys sweet cake.” 2
  3. 3. Poetry Terms GuideIrony: A contrast or discrepancy between what is said and what is meant or between whathappens and what is expected to happen in life and in literature.Literal Language: A form of language in which writers and speakers mean exactly what theirwords denote.Lyric: A short verse that is intended to express the emotions of the author; quite often theselyrics are set to musicLyric Poem: A type of poem characterized by brevity, compression, and the expression offeelings.Metaphor: A comparison of two unlike things in which no word of comparison (like or as) isused.Meter: The pattern of repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.Narrative Poem: A poem that tells a story.Narrator: The voice and implied speaker of a fictional work, to be distinguished from the actualliving author.Octave: An eight-line unit, which may constitute a stanza; or a section of a poem, as in theoctave of a sonnet.Ode: A long, stately poem in stanzas of varied length, meter, and form.Onomatopoeia: The use of a word whose sound suggests its meaning.Open Form: A type of structure or form in poetry characterized by freedom from regularity andconsistency in such elements as rhyme, line length, metrical pattern, and overall poetic structure.Parody: A humorous, mocking imitation of a literary work, sometimes sarcastic, but oftenplayful and even respectful in its playful imitation.Personification: A literary device in which the author speaks of or describes an animal, object, oridea, as if it were a person. Example: “The rock stubbornly refused to move!”Plot: The unified structure of incidents in a literary work.Point of View: The angle of vision from which a story is narrated.Protagonist: The main character of a literary work.Pyrrhic: A metrical foot with two unstressed syllables ("of the"). 3
  4. 4. Poetry Terms GuideQuatrain: A four-line stanza in a poem, the first four lines and the second four lines in aPetrachan sonnet. A Shakespearean sonnet contains three quatrains followed by a couplet.Recognition: The point at which a character understands his or her situation as it really is.Refrain: The repetition of a line or phrase of a poem at regular intervals, especially at the end ofeach stanza. A song‟s refrain may be called the chorus.Repetition: the repeating of a word or phrase within a poem or a prose piece to create a sense ofrhythm. Example: “His laugh, his dare, his shrug/ sag ghostlike.”Resolution: The sorting out or unraveling of a plot at the end of a play, novel, or story.Reversal: The point at which the action of the plot turns in an unexpected direction for theprotagonist.Rhyme: The similarity or likeness of sound existing between two words. Example: “sat” and“cat” are perfect rhymes because the vowel and final consonant sounds are exactly the same.Rhymed Verse: Verse with end rhyme that usually has regular meter.Rhythm: The ordered, or free occurrences of sound in poetry.Rising Action: A set of conflicts and crises that constitute the part of a plays or storys plotleading up to the climax.Satire: A literary work that criticizes human misconduct and ridicules vices, stupidities, andfollies.Sestet: A six-line unit of verse constituting a stanza or section of a poem; the last six lines of anItalian sonnet.Sestina: A poem of thirty-nine lines and written in iambic pentameter.Setting: The time and place of a literary work that establish its context.Simile: A comparison of two unlike things in which a word of comparison (like or as) is used.Example: “She stood in front of the altar, shaking like a freshly caught trought.”Sonnet: A fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameter. The Shakespearean or English sonnet isarranged as three quatrains and a final couplet, rhyming abab cdcd efef gg. The Petrarchan orItalian sonnet divides into two parts: an eight-line octave and a six-line sestet, rhyming abba abbacde cde or abba abba cd cd cd.Spondee: A metrical foot represented by two stressed syllables, such as KNICK-KNACK. 4
  5. 5. Poetry Terms GuideSpondaic: Two stressed syllables.Stanza: A division of poetry named for the number of lines it contains.1.Couplet: two line stanza2. Triplet: three line stanza3. Quatrain: four line stanza4. Quintet: five line stanza5. Sestet: six line stanza6. Septet: seven line stanza7. Octave: eight line stanzaStyle: The way an author chooses words, arranges them in sentences or in lines of dialogue orverse, and develops ideas and actions with description, imagery, and other literary techniques.Subject: What a story or play is about; to be distinguished from plot and theme.Subplot: A subsidiary or subordinate or parallel plot in a play or story that coexists with the mainplotSymbol: A person, a place, a thing, or an event used to represent something else. Example: Adove is a symbol of peace.Syntax: The grammatical order of words in a sentence or line of verse or dialogue.Tercet: A three-line stanza.Theme: The idea of a literary work abstracted from its details of language, character, and action,and cast in the form of a generalization.Tone: The implied attitude of a writer toward the subject and characters of a work.Trochaic: A stressed followed by and unstressed syllable.Understatement: A figure of speech in which a writer or speaker says less than what he or shemeans; the opposite of exaggeration.Verse: A single metrical line in a poetic composition; one line of poetry.Villanelle: A nineteen-line lyric poem that relies heavily on repetition. The first and third linesalternate throughout the poem, which is structured in six stanzas--five tercets, and a concludingquatrain. 5
  6. 6. Poetry Terms Guide 6

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