Critical Terms of Poetry

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Last updated: December 11, 2019

Alliteration
Repetition of initial consonant sounds.

Analogy-
Type of comparison that compares the relationship between two different things.

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Anaphora-
Repetition of beginning word or phrase in successive lines of poetry

Apostrophe
Addresses a poem to something or someone that is not capable of answering or replying. Ex: poem addressed to death.

Assonance
Repetition of the same vowel sounds.

Caesura
Pause indicated by punctuation or a change in meter in a line of poetry.

Chiaroscuro
Combination of light and dark imagery in a poem.

Chiasmus
Inversion of grammatical structures that follow one another. Ex: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Conceit
Highly imaginative elaborate metaphor.

Consonance
Repetition of final consonant sounds.

Eye Rhyme
Words appear to rhyme because of look, but are said differently.

Ex: Prove and Love.

Hyperbole
Gross exaggeration Ex: I’ve told you a thousand times!

Internal Rhyme
Words within a line of poetry that rhyme with each other.

Litotes
Ironic understatement.

Ex: It’s not that bad ( broken and bloody arm)

Metaphor
Direct comparison of unlike things. Ex: She’s a angry flight attendant.

Metonymy
Special metaphor in which you substitute a word with something closely associated with it. Ex: The kettle is boiling

Oxymoron
Special kind of paradox in which opposite words are placed near each other. Ex: bitter-sweet, icy-hot

Onomatopoeia
Words that imitate sounds Ex: Bang, Pop

Paradox
Contradiction where two conflicting elements exist at the same time. Ex: the present bought both fear and excitement.

Personification
Giving human qualities to something not human, or motion to something that can’t move. Ex: The wind cried Mary, The table walked to the wall.

Ploce
Repetition of the same word in a line of poetry.

Refrain
Repetition of a word, line, or stanza in a fixed position throughout a poem.

Reification
Metaphor in which you give concrete qualities to something abstract. Ex: You could cut the tension with a knife.

Repetend
Kind of repetition in which a word or phrase is repeated throughout the poem.

Rhetorical question
A question in which a response is not required. Ex: Could my day get any worse?

Simile
Comparison of two different objects using the words like, as, or than. Ex: You look as tall as a ant.

Synaesthesia
Special kind of metaphor in which you substitute one sense for another. Ex: You could smell the fear.

Synecdoche
Kind of metaphor where the part represents the whole or the whole represents the part.

Ex: All hands on deck!

Volta
Word or phrase that signals a change in tone or theme. Ex: But, However.

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