Poetry Explication Terms

Topic: EnvironmentNatural Disasters
Sample donated:
Last updated: December 15, 2019
explication
line by line explanation of poem

subject
whatever the poem is about

theme
underlying idea

speaker
the poet or a person imagined in the poem

mask
person imagined in the poem (m)

persona
person imagined in the poem (p)

audience
listener(s) or people imagined in the poem or outside the poem

setting
time and place/circumstances

tone
attitude of speaker or poet

mood
emotional or psychological cast of the poem

empathy
identifying deeply with the experience or feelings of another

pathos
quality in a work which causes pity, sorrow, or sympathy in the reader

diction
word choices

ambiguity
meaning is not clear

denotation
dictionary definition of a word

connotation
implications that words or phrases may carry

closure
sense of completion at the end of the poem

figurative language
language which departs from the standard order and significance of words in order to convey special meaning or effect

allegory
a storyline with two different meanings, one on the surface and the other having religious, moral, or political meanings

allusion
a reference to something outside the poem

analogy
a comparison drawn between two different things that have some points in common: to explain a difficult idea in terms of a simpler one

apostrophe
direct addressing of a person, an inanimate object, or abstract quality as though it were present and living

animism
conscious life is given to nature or natural objects

cliche
term that has lost freshness due to overuse

conceit
extended, elaborate, analogy

hyperbole
overstatement, exaggeration

imagery
details that appear to the five senses

visual
sight (imagery)

auditory
hearing (imagery)

gustatory
taste (imagery)

olfactory
smell (imagery)

tactile
touch (imagery)

kinetic
movement (imagery)

verbal irony
when a person says one thing but means another

situational irony
when something very different from what was expected happens

dramatic irony
when the reader knows something that characters do not

juxtaposition
the side by side arrangement of two or more words that contrast to make an effect

meiosis
understatement

metaphor
comparison without using like or as

extended metaphor
in the broader sense: any comparison where one thing is described in terms of another

metonymy
a term applied to something it’s closely associated with through experience (ex: the White House)

oxymoron
the combination of two terms that in ordinary use are contraries (ex: jumbo shrimp)

paradox
a contradictory statement which proves to be logically sound and meaningful

personification
giving human qualities to animals or inanimate objects

pun
a play on words

rhetorical question
a question asked for an effect, not actually requiring an answer

sarcasm
bitter, cutting remark that moves beyond verbal irony

simile
a comparison using like or as

symbol
something which stands for something else

synecdoche
a part of something used to signify the whole (ten hands= ten workers)

alliteration
repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of two or more words

assonance
repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds

cacophony
combination of harsh, unpleasant sounds

consonance
repetition of the same consonants in words, usually at the end of words closely following one another

euphony
pleasant and musical sounding combination of speech sounds

onomatopoeia
words that imitate sound (ooze, buzz, ugh)

rhyme
repetition of similar or identical sounds

end rhyme
rhyme scheme (abab, abba, etc)

internal rhyme
a word in the middle of a line that rhymes with a word at the end of the line

slant rhyme
words with consonance at the end of lines instead of perfect rhyme (off rhyme)

eye rhyme
the endings of words spelled alike but have different pronunciation (ex: prove your love)

couplet
2 lines with rhyme scheme

tercet
3 lines with rhyme scheme

quatrain
4 lines with rhyme scheme

cinquain
5 lines with rhyme scheme

sestet
6 lines with rhyme scheme

septain
7 lines with rhyme scheme

octave
8 lines with rhyme scheme

meter
a pattern of rhythm in a line of poetry — accented (stressed) and unaccented (unstressed)

accent
emphasis given to one or more syllables in a word

scansion
(to scan) finding the meter and distinguishing feet and finding rhyme scheme

foot
smallest rhythmic unit

iambic
unaccented and then accented (rising rhythm)

trochaic
accented and unaccented (falling rhythm)

number of feet
Ex: monometer, dimeter, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter

caesura
a pause in the middle of the line (often punctuation)

enjambment
a line with no end punctuation (run on line)

end-stopped line
a line of poetry that ends with period, colon, or semicolon

virgule
a diagonal line separating feet or lines of poetry (/)

stanza
grouping of lines, often marks completion of metrical pattern or shift in meaning

refrain
the same line (or group of lines) repeated at intervals in poem

traditional verse
regular patterns of rhyme, meter, length of line, stanzas, etc.

blank verse
a form of traditional verse — unrhymed iambic pentameter

free verse
no regular pattern of rhyme or meter: depends on alliteration, assonance, cosonance

dramatic monologue
a poem which reveals personality through the voice of one character in a dramatic situation

elegy
a poem of mourning and lamentation

lyric
a brief, subjective poem marked by imagination and emotion

ode
an elaborate long lyric, serious in subject, and expressed in dignified language

sonnet
a poem written in a single stanza (traditionally) which consists of fourteen iambic pentameter lines linked by an intricate rhyme scheme

italian sonnet
(petrarchan) an octave of abba, abba, and a sestet of cdecde or some variant

english sonnet
(shakespearean) three quatrains and a couplet, abab, cdcd, efef, gg

villanelle
a french verse characterized by 19 lines and designed through complex and careful arrangement to give an impression of spontaneity and simplicity

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