Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing – Poetry

Topics: HistoryRenaissance

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Last updated: November 28, 2019

verse
any single line of poetry; any composition in lines or more or less regular rhythm

paraphrase
restatement in one’s own words of what we understand a literary work to say

summary
brief condensation of the main idea or story of a literary work

theme
generally recurring subject or idea conspicuously evident in a literary work

subject
main topic of a poem, story or play

carpe diem
Latin for “seize the day”; applied to characterize much lyric poetry concerned with human mortality and the passing of time

Surrealism
modernist movement in art and literature that tries to organize art according to the irrational dictates of the unconscious mind; founded by French poet André Breton

lyric
short poem expressing the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker; often written in first person

dramatic poetry
any verse written for the stage, as in the plays of classical Greece, the Renaissance and neoclassical periods; also a kind of poetry that presents the voice of an imaginary character speaking directly, without any additional narration by the author

dramatic monologue
poem written as a speech made by a character at some decisive moment

didactic poetry
kind of poetry intended to teach the reader a moral lesson or impart a body of knowledge; aims for education over art

tone
attitude toward a subject conveyed in a literary work

satiric poetry
poetry that blends criticism with humor to convey a message

persona
fictitious character created by an author to be the speaker of a poem, story or novel; Latin for “mask”

irony
literary device in which a discrepancy of meaning is masked beneath the surface of the language

ironic point of view
perspective of a character or narrator whose voice or position is rich in ironic contradictions

verbal irony
statement in which the speaker or writers says the opposite of what is really meant

sarcasm
conspicuously bitter form of irony in which the ironic statement is designed to hurt or mock its target

dramatic irony
special kind of suspenseful expectation, when the audience or reader understands the implication and meaning of a situation onstage and foresees the oncoming disaster or triumph but the character does not

tragic irony
form of dramatic irony that ultimately arrives at some tragedy

cosmic irony (irony of fate)
irony that exists between a character’s aspiration and the treatment he or she receives at the hands of fate

concrete diction
involves highly specific word choice in the naming of something or someone

abstract diction
contains words that express more general ideas or concepts

diction
word choice or vocabulary

allusion
brief (and sometimes indirect) reference in a text to a person, place or thing–fictitious or actual

Augustan age (neoclassical period)
originally referred to the greatest period of Roman literature under Emperor Augustus; refers secondly to the early eighteenth century in English Literature dominated by characteristically formal structure and diction

poetic diction
generally refers to elevated language intended for poetry rather than common use

decorum
propriety or appropriateness

vulgate
lowest level of formality in language, the diction of the common people with no pretensions at refinement or elevation; from the Latin word vulgus, “mob” or “common people”

levels of diction
four conventional levels of formality in word choice; vulgate, colloquial English, general English and formal English

colloquial English
casual or informal but correct language of ordinary native speakers, which may include contractions, slang and shifts in grammar

general English
ordinary speech of educated native speakers

formal English
heightened, impersonal language or educated person, usually only written, although possibly spoken on dignified occasions

dialect
particular variety of language spoken by an identifiable regional group or social class of persons

villanelle
fixed form developed by French courtly poets of the Middle Ages in imitation of Italian folk songs

denotation
literal, dictionary meaning of a word

connotation
association or additional meaning that a word, image or phrase may carry, apart form its literal dictionary definition

image
word or series of words that refers to any sensory experience

visual imagery
word or sequence of words that refers to the sense of sight or presents something one may see

auditory imagery
word or sequence of words that refers to the sense of hearing

tactile imagery
word or sequence of words that refers to the sense of touch

imagery
collective set of images in a poem or other literary work

haiku
Japanese verse form that has three unrhymed lines of five, seven and five syllables

figure of speech
expression or comparison that relies not on its literal meaning, but rather on its connotations and suggestions

simile
comparison of two things, indicated by some connective, usually like, as, than or a verb such as resembles

metaphor
statement that one thing is something else, which, in a literal sense, it is not

implied metaphor
metaphor that uses neither connectives nor the verb to be

mixed metaphor
metaphor that trips over another metaphor–usually unconsciously–already in the statement

personification
figure of speech in which a thing, an animal or an abstract term is endowed with human characteristics

apostrophe
direct address to someone or something

overstatement (hyperbole)
exaggeration used to emphasize a point

understatement
ironic figure of speech that deliberately describes something in a way that is less than the true case

metonymy
figure of speech in which the name of a thing is substituted for that of another closely associated with it

synecdoche
use of a significant part of a thing to stand for the whole of it or vice versa

transferred epithet
figure of speech in which the poet attributes some characteristic of a thing to another thing closely associated to it

paradox
statement that at first strikes one as self-contradictory, but that on reflection reveals some deeper sense

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