AP Lit Poetry Terms

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Last updated: November 26, 2019

accent
placement of stress on certain syllables

ambiguity
multiplicity of meanings

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anapest
two unaccented syllables followed by an accented syllable

anaphora
repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of 2+ sentences in a row

antithesis
balance of parallel word groups conveying opposite ideas

apostrophe
a direct address to an object, an animal, an idea or an absent person as if they are capable of hearing it

assonance
repetition of similar nearby vowel sounds

ballad
usually simple narrative poem that accounts an exciting/dramatic episode and usually meant to be sung

ballad stanza
quatrain (4 lines) in which the 1st and 3rd lines have 4 stressed syllables, the 2nd and 4th lines have 3 stressed syllables and only the 2nd and 4th lines rhyme

blank verse
lines written in unrhymed iambic pentameter

caesura
pronounced pause in a line of poetry (usually near the middle)

canto
section or division of a long poem

carpe diem
“seize the day” or “make the most of youth while you can”

conceit
an elaborate or farfetched metaphor or simile

concrete verse
poems shaped like a specific object

connotation
all the suggested meanings and associations that a word brings to mind beyond its denotation (dictionary definition)

consonance
repetition of consonant sounds at the end of words or stressed syllables in order to create near rhyme

couplet
a 2-lined stanza, poem or poetic saying

dactyl
1 accented syllable followed by 2 unaccented syllables

didactic
literature with a moral dilemma

diphthong
2 syllables that are counted and pronounced as 1, used to make words fit metrical requirements

dirge
lyric verse that is a short funeral lament

doggerel
verse made comic because irregular metrics are made regular by stressing normally unstressed syllables

dramatic monologue
dramatic poem in which a single character makes an extended speech revealing his/her psychology at a significant moment

dramatic poetry
poetry that reveals character through speech and that consists entirely of monologue/dialogue

elegy
formal lyric poem, usually a meditation on death or some other very solemn occassion

elision
omission (usually of a vowel or unstressed syllable), i.e. o’er (for over), th’ (the)

enjambment
poetic sentence which goes into the next line or verse with no end stop in between lines

epic
extended narrative poem, written in an elevated style, recounting the deeds of a legendary or actual hero

extended metaphor
comparison that runs throughout a work or large part of it

foot
basic unit of meter in poetry

free verse
poetry without rhyme or meter

iamb
poetic foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable

iambic pentameter
meter in which the predominant foot is the iamb and there are 5 feet in a line (10 syllables)

inversion
variation of the normal word order which puts a modifier or the verb as first in the sentence

kenning
metaphorical compound in Anglo-Saxon or Germanic verse (i.

e. “whale road” for ocean)

litotes
form of understatement in which an affirmation is made by means of negation

lyric poetry
short, melodic, imaginative poetry (i.e.

sonnet, ode)

macaronic verse
verse containing words resembling a foreign language or mixture of languages

madrigal
lyric poem designed to be sung without instruments

metaphysical conceit
often startling and elaborate comparison between apparently dissimilar things

meter
rhythmically arranged patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables

metonymy
figure of speech in which a word naming something closely associated with a word is substituted for the word itself (i.e. crown for king)

octave
8-line poem or stanza

ode
a long lyric poem, serious in subject, formal in style and complex in form

off-rhyme
occurs when sounds are almost the same but not exact

paradox
statement that seems to contradict itself but is actually true

parallelism
use of repeated structures in nearby phrases, clauses, sentences or lines of poetry

parody
piece of writing that imitates a piece of writing and makes it seem amusing

pastoral
work that depicts simple pleasure in rural life

pentameter
metrical line consisting of 5 feet

phyrric
2 unstressed syllables

prosody
study of versification (including meter, rhyme and stanza formation)

quatrain
4-line stanza

refrain
one or more lines repeated at intervals (usually at the end of a stanza)

rhyme scheme
sequence or pattern sounds

rhythm
regulated, patterned recurrence of specific kinds of sounds

rhythmic pattern
patterns established by accent or syllable count

scansion
means of studying the elements by which the poet has handled his/her rhythmical effects

sestet
6-line poem or stanza

sonnet
14-line poem having a regular rhythm and pattern or rhyme

spondee
metrical foot consisting of 2 accented syllables

stanza
one of the divisions of a poem, usually composed of 2+ lines

synecdoche
form of metaphor in which a part signifies the whole or vice versa (i.

e. hand in marriage)

synesthesia
figure of speech that takes 1 of the 5 senses and creates a picture/image of senstation

tercet
3-line poem or stanza that rhymes

tetrameter
metrical line consisting of 4 feet

tone
manner of expression

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