Poetry and Poetic Devices

Topics: ArtSymbolism

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Last updated: December 1, 2019

Figurative Language
A tool that an author uses to help the reader see what is happening in a story or poem. Some common types of figurative language are: simile, metaphor, alliteration, idiom, euphemism, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, and personification.

Simile
A comparison using like or as. It usually compares two dissimilar objects (for example, the man was as tall as a tree).

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Metaphor
A comparison that states one thing is something else. It is a comparison, but it DOES NOT use like or as to make the comparison (for example, the river was a winding snake).

Onomatopoeia
The formation or use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to (for example, buzz, boom, bang).

Idiom
A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual or literal meanings of its elements (for example, don’t put your eggs in one basket).

Euphemism
A milder, less direct term that means the same thing as one that is considered harsh, blunt, or offensive (for example, senior citizen).

Personification
A figure of speech in which things are endowed with human qualities or are represented as possessing human form (for example, a smiling moon).

Hyperbole
A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect (for example, this book weighs a ton).

Theme
The subject, topic, or recurrent focus in a piece of literature.

Tone
The writer’s attitude toward his or her subject or characters.

It is conveyed through the author’s words and details. Sometimes referred to as the voice in literature.

Mood
The feeling a reader gets while reading a literary work or passage.

Sonnet
A form of poetry written in fourteen lines and ending in a couplet. This poem also has a specific rhythm the poet must follow.

Couplet
Two lines with end words that rhyme.

Ballad
A narrative poem, often of folk origin and intended to be sung; consisting of simple stanzas and usually having a refrain.

Elegy
A poem that is traditionally written in response to the death of a person or group. In content, it is similar to an ode (usually meant to praise), epitaph (usually very short—like something written on a tombstone), or a eulogy (written using prose). An elegy focuses on the loss or grief itself.

Epic Poem
A poem that is a long poem. It can be the length of a book sometimes.

It usually recalls a heroic account of someone or something famous. Characters in this poem can have superhuman powers and unusual adventures, so it seems similar to a novel; however, it is written using poetic devices such as meter and line breaks.

Haiku
A Japanese form of poetry. It consists of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables.

Free Verse
Poetry written without regards to form, rhyme, rhythm, meter, or line breaks.

A poem written in free verse doesn’t have a clear traditional form.

Lyric
Unlike ballads this poem, does not attempt to tell a story. It is of a more personal nature. Rather than portraying characters and actions, the poet addresses the reader directly, portraying the speaker’s feelings, states of mind, and perceptions. This poem often is written with a specific rhyme scheme and meter.

Thesaurus
A reference source to find a synonym of a word. When you look up a word using this resource, you will find a list of words that mean the same thing.

Rhyme
A poetic device where we hear the repetition of the same or similar sounds in words. Many times writers and poets repeat vowel sounds and ending sounds that appear close together.

Meter
A poetic device where the rhythm created in a poem is emphasized with a certain rhythmic pattern of a stanza. This gives a line of poetry a predictable flow and a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.

Irony
Shows the difference between reality and the way things in a story appear to be.

Symbolism
Figurative language device where the practice of representing things by means of symbols, attributing symbolic meanings, or significance to objects, events, or relationships.

Stanza
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.

Internal Rhyme
A rhyme in which where at least one of the rhyming words is somewhere within a line of poetry and both rhyming words are often in the same line. For example: A spatter a scatter a wet cat a clatter Spatter, scatter, and clatter all rhyme and all are in the same line.

Alliteration
A poetic device where there is repetition of the beginning CONSONANT sounds of words that enhance the poem’s sound: for example, “The big boy bounces the basic ball by the beach.

Limerick
Comical poetry with lines one, two, and five rhyming, and lines three and four shorter and rhyming.

Rhyme Scheme
The pattern in which lines rhyme and can be represented by letters.

Sensory Language/Imagery
Poetic device where words that appeal to one of the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) are present in a poem.

Visualize
A reading strategy where you make pictures in your mind about characters, events, and what’s happening. When you read nonfiction, pay attention to the images that form in your mind as you read.

Allusion
A reference to a famous person, place, event, or work of literature (for example, references to Shakespeare or the Bible).

Folklore
Traditions, customs, and stories that are passes down within a culture.

Narrative
Writing that tells a story. Events can be fiction or nonfiction.

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