Poetry Terms Review

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Last updated: December 3, 2019

Alliteration
the repetition of initial consonant sounds

Allusion
indirect or passing reference to some person, place, or event. This could be biblical, historical, literary, artistic, etc. The nature of the reference is not explained because the writer relies on the reader’s familiarity with it.

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Antithesis
a contrast or opposition of ideas, usually by the balancing of phrases.

Apostrophe
a speech addressed to a dead or absent person or an abstract object.

Assonance
repetition of similar or identical vowel sounds

Ballad
a narrative poem that tells a story, often in a straightforward and dramatic manner, and often about such universals as love, honour and courage. Ballads were once songs and have a strong rhythm and rhyme scheme. Ex.

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Coleridge

Ballad Stanza
a four line stanza used in ballads, usually consisting of unrhymed first and third lines and rhymed second and fourth lines.

Blank Verse
unrhymed iambic pentameter

Cacophony
Harsh sound or discordance

Chorus
A group of lines that repeat

Connotation
Implied or additional meaning for a word or phrase. These meanings are often subjective.

For example, patriotism, which means love for one’s country, can have many individual meanings.

Consonance
The repetition of similar consonant sounds in a group of words.

Couplet
two consecutive lines that rhyme with each other

heroic couplet
two consecutive lines that rhyme with each other and they are written in iambic pentameter.

Dramatic Monologue
The “dramatic” says that it could be acted out, and is a form of drama, while the “monologue” defines it as a speech that one person makes, either to themself or to another. A dramatic monologue is written to reveal both the situation at hand and the character himself/herself.

Denotation
the explicit or literal meaning for a word or a phrase. These are the meanings written in dictionaries.

Dissonance
harsh sound or discordance.

Dissonance can be emotional or intellectual.

Elegy
a poem of mourning

Epic
a long poem that is often about a heroic character. The style is elevated and the poetry often represents religious or cultural ideals. Ex. The Iliad and the Odyssey

Epigram
a brief and witty statement.Ex.

/ “Speech is silver, but silence is golden.” Wilde”Here’s my wife: here let her lie!Now she’s at rest-and so am I.” – John Dryden

Epitaph
An inscription on a tombstone in memory of the one buried there.

Or a brief literary piece commemorating a deceased person.

Euphemism
the use of an agreeable expression for one that may offend.Ex. “passed away” or “no longer with us” instead of “dead”

Euphony
Agreeableness of sound; pleasing effect to the ear.

A combination of harmonious words.

Extended Metaphor
When the comparison making up the metaphor is carried throughout the text.

Free Verse
a poem with no set rhythm or rhyme scheme.

Haiku
a three line poem consisting of 17 syllables

Hyperbole
a figure of speech that uses exaggeration for effect.

Iambic Pentameter
A rhythmic pattern of ten syllables, five beats.Example: “If you would put the key inside the lock”This line has 5 feet, so it’s written in pentameter. if YOU | would PUT | the KEY | inSIDE | the LOCKda DUM | da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | da DUM

Internal Rhyme
rhyme that occurs in the middle of a line

Lyric
a poem, usually a short one, that expresses a speaker’s personal thoughts or feelings.

(elegy, ode, sonnet)

Limerick
a five line humorous poem, that has a strict form.

Metaphor
a figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two things. Example: life is a dream

Metonymy
replaces the name of the thing with something closely associated with it. Example: the White House

Metre
a generally regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry.

Narrative
a poem that tells a story.

Octave
a group of eight lines in a poem

Ode
a complex and often lengthy lyric poem, written in a dignified formal style on some lofty or serious subject.

Onomatopoeia
words that seem to imitate the sounds to which they refer. Examples: buzz, bang, zoom, roar.

Oxymoron
words that combine opposite or contradictory ideas or terms. Examples: jumbo shrimp, military intelligence, bitter sweet.

Paradox
a statement that reveals a kind of truth, although at first it seems to be self-contradictory and untrue.

Example: stone walls do not a prison make.

Parallelism
the arrangement of similarly constructed clauses, verses or sentences, suggesting some correspondence between them.

Pastoral
a type of poem about life in the countryside that is often romanticized and depicted in a highly unrealistic manner.

Personification
the giving of human attributes to inanimate objects. Example: The wind howled at me and the trees waved their branches in disgust.

Proverb
is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity.Example: “Ignorance is bliss.

Pun
a humorous expression that depends on a double meaning, either between different meanings of the same word or between two similar sounding words.Example: “That dreamers often lie” “Einstein developed a theory about space, and it was about time too.”

Quatrain
four lines of poetry in a stanza

Refrain
a group of lines that repeat

Repetition
the repetition of certain elements used for effect/ emphasis

Rhetorical Question
a question that is asked in order to make a point and without the expectation of a reply

Rhyme
a repetition of identical/similar sounds

Rhyme Scheme
the pattern of rhyming lines in a poem

Rhythm
is the beat that is created by word syllables. In each line of poetry there will be the same number of syllables and stresses.

Sestet
a group of six lines in a poem

Simile
a comparison made between two things through the use of a specific word such as: like, as, than. Example: “Love is like a red rose.

Sonnet
a fourteen-line lyric poem, usually written in rhymed iambic pentameter, it usually expresses a single theme or idea.

Speaker
the “voice” that speaks in a poem

Stanza
a grouping of lines in a poem

Symbol
any object, person, place, or action that has a meaning in itself and that also stands for something larger than itself, such as a quality, an attitude, a belief, or a value.Example: The rose is a symbol of love and beauty.

Synecdoche
a figure of speech that substitutes a part for a whole.

Example: “All hands on deck.””Many hands make light work.”

Triplet
a group of three lines in a stanza

Verse
poetry or a line of poetry

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