Poetry Terms (Lit for Children Definitions)

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Last updated: December 12, 2019

Oxymoron
-a form of paradox in which 2 contradictory words are used together

Pun
-a play on words-a word that has more than one meaning

Allusion
-brief reference to a person, place, thing, idea, historical event or literary works-can deepen and enrich writing and can telegraph meaning

Connotation
associations and implications that go beyond a words literal meaning

Denotation
literal, dictionary meaning of a word

Direct Images
-images that engage or involve our senses -may be visual, tactile, olfactory (smell), auditory, kinesthetic, or gustatory (taste)

Imagery
-mental pictures conveyed through the descriptions and word choices of the poet

Free Verse
-adheres to no set of predetermined rules-requires thoughtful and meaningful word choice and patterns

Elegy
-a lyric poem written to commemorate someone who is dead or to express a speaker’s melancholy thoughts-no longer fixed patterns of lines or stanzas, but its subject should be death and its tone mournful

Onamatopeia
the use of a word that resembles the sound it denotes

Consonance
repetition of consonant sounds (not at the beginning of words, but within them)

Poetry
-an effective combination of sound and sense-for children it may emphasize sound rather than sense

Assonance
-repetition of identical sounds (even if the words are spelled differently)

Alliteration
-repetition of sound at the beginning of the words

Rhyme
-primarily considered at the end of a series of lines, although there may be rhyming within the lines as well-mapping patterns (ABA, ABBA, ABA’B’ etc.)-convey meaning -can establish a rhyme pattern and break that pattern

Quatrain
a coherent unit of 4 lines(a sonnet, a highly structured poem with 14 lines and specified rhythm and rhyme schemes, may be divided into 3 quatrains and a couplet)

Rhyming Couplet
when 2 lines are paired and rhyme

Indirect Images
images that describe through comparison

Simile
a comparison using like or as

Metaphor
a comparison in which something else is something else

Personification
extending human qualities to an inanimate object, idea or force of nature

Hyperbole
exaggeration that adds emphasis without being literally true

Limerick
-5-line poem in which 1st, 2nd and 5th lines rhyme with each other (larger lines), while the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme with each other (shorter lines)-narrative and humorous-rollicking rhythm- attracts readers of all ages

Concrete Poetry
-when the words of a poem are so arranged that thy form a picture of the subject of the poem

Cinquain
contains 5 short lines, and those 5 lines contain 2,4,6,8,and 2 syllables respectively

Haiku
-a short Japanese poem containing 17 syllables divided into 3 lines (5-7-5)-meaning is usually expressed through details of the senses and of nature, with a seasonal references and a transition of some kind that might make you think more deeply about these details

Ballad Stanza
-often used for narrative poetry, it typically relies on a 4-line stanza with the 2nd and 4th lines rhyming-usually contains 8 syllables per line

Narrative Poetry
-a story in verse, including a setting, identifiable characters and a plot

Epic
-a long narrative poem

Lyric Poetry
-typically expresses a single speaker’s emotional or intellectual response to a subject, a mood, or an emotion-sometimes no speaker is specified

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