Poetry Formal Elements

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Last updated: December 3, 2019

Poetry
a literary form that combines the precise meanings of words with their emotional associations, sounds, and rhythms.

Stanzas
grouping of lines

Couplets
stanzas with two lines

Quatrains
stanzas with four lines

Figurative Language
a way of expressing ideas or feelings in a fresh way

Metaphors
comparing two apparently unlike things

Similes
making comparisons by using connecting words

Personification
language that attributes human qualities to non-human things

Onomatopoeia
the use of a word whose sound imitates its meaning

Imagery
the descriptive language poets use to create word pictures, or images

Sensory Language
the details related to senses

Sound Devices
the way for poets to achieve a musical quality

Rhythm
the pattern created by the stressed and unstressed syllables of words in sequence

Rhyme
the repetition of identical or similar sounds in stressed syllables

Meter
controlled pattern of rhythm

Rhyme Scheme
the pattern of end rhymes

Free Verse
has no set meter or rhyme scheme

Alliteration
the repetition of the initial consonant sounds of words

Assonance
the repetition of vowel sounds in nearby words

Consonance
the repetition of consonants within nearby words in which the separating vowels differ

Repetition
the use of any language element more than once

Narrative
a poem in which the writer tells a story in verse

Epic
a long narrative poem about gods or heroes

Ballad
a songlike narrative about an adventure or a romance

Dramatic
a poem in which the writer tells a story using a character’s own thoughts or statements

Lyric
a brief poem in which the author expresses the feelings of a single speaker, creating a single effect on the reader

Haiku
a poem obtaining three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables

Sonnet
a fourteen-line lyric poem with formal patterns of rhyme, rhythm, and line structure

Onomotopoeia (ex)
buzz, hiss, thud, sizzle

Similes (ex)
Say our love is like the sun, not like the moon.

Alliteration (ex)
“dark days”

Allusion
a reference to another work of literature, person, or event

Paradox
a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

Assonance (ex)
“child of silence”

Consonance (ex)
“live and love”

Mood
an overall feeling created by the setting, plot, and images

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