Scansion and poetry

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Last updated: December 2, 2019

Alliteration
the repetition of initial consonant sounds, primarily used in poetry “And how the silence surged softly backward”

Assonance
the repetition of vowel sounds followed by different consonants in two or more stressed syllables—”weak and weary”

Ballad
a song or poem that tells a story (often tragic)

Blank verse
poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter lines (does not rhyme)

Cacophony
a harsh, unpleasant combination of sounds in a line or passage in a literary work

Cadence
the natural, rhythmic rise and fall of a language as it is normally spoken

Caesura
a pause or break in a line of verse

Catalog
a list of things, people, or events

Conceit
a brief metaphor – striking a parallel between dissimilar things

Concrete poem
a poem in which the words are arranged on a page to suggest a visual representation of the subject

Connective tissue
those elements that help create coherence in a written piece.

Consonance
the repetition in 2 or more words of final consonants in stressed syllables “add – read”

Couplet
a pair of rhyming lines, usually of the same length and meter, which generally expresses a general idea

Dirge
a wailing song, sung at a funeral or in commemoration of death, a short lyric lamination

Dissonance
harsh and inharmonious sounds, a marked breaking of the music of poetry, which may be intentional.

Dramatic monologue
a poem spoken by one person addressing one or more listeners

Elegy
a sustained and formal poem setting forth meditations on death or another solemn theme

End-stopped lines
lines in which both the grammatical structure and the sense reach completion at the end

Enjambment
the continuation of the sense and grammatical construction of a line on to the next verse or couplet.

Epic
a long narrative poem about the deeds of gods or heroes

Euphony
pleasing sounds; the pleasant, mellifluous presentation of sounds in a literary work

Foot
the unit of rhythm in verse

Free verse
poetry not written in a regular meter

Image
a word or phrase that appeals to one or more of the five senses

Limerick
light verse consisting of five lines or regular rhythm in which the first, second, and fifth lines (each consisting of three feet) rhyme, and the third and fourth lines (each consisting of two feet) rhyme (aabba)

Lyric
a highly musical verse that expresses the observations and feelings of a single speaker

Measure
frequently a synonym for meter

Meter
the rhythmical pattern of a poem which is determined by the number and types of stresses in each line

Feet
groups of stressed and unstressed lines; 8 types of feet

Iamb
one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable

Trochee
one stressed followed by an unstressed

Anapest
two unstressed followed by one stressed

Dactyl
one stressed followed by two unstressed

Spondee
two strong stresses

Pyrrhic
foot with 2 unstressed syllables

Amphibrach
unstressed syllable, followed by a stressed, followed by another unstressed

Amphimacer
stressed, unstressed, stressed

Monometer
one-foot lines

Dimeter
two-foot lines

Trimeter
three-foot lines

Tetrameter
four-foot lines

Pentameter
five-foot lines

Hexameter
six-foot lines

Heptameter
seven-foot lines

Octameter
eight-foot lines

Octave
an eight-line stanza

Ode
a single, unified strain of exalted lyrical verse, directed to a single purpose, and dealing with one theme

Quatrain
a stanza or poem made up of four lines

Refrain
a repeated line or group of lines in a poem or song

Repetition
the use, more than once, of any element of language

Rhyme
the repetition of sounds at the ends of words

End rhyme
occurs when the rhyming words come at the ends of lines

Internal rhyme
occurs when the rhyming words appear within the same line or corresponding lines

Approximate rhyme (half rhyme, slant rhyme)
are words that have some correspondence in sound but not an exact one

Rhythm
the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables in language

Scansion
a system for describing conventional rhythms by dividing lines into feet, indicating the locations of binomial accents, and counting syllables

Sestet
the second, six-line division of an Italian sonnet

Sonnet
a 14-line lyric poem, usually written in rhymed iambic pentameter

English (Shakespearean) sonnet
consists of 3 quatrains and a couplet, usually rhyming abab cdcd efef gg

Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet
consists of an octave and a sestet, usually rhyming abbaabba cdecde

Speaker
the voice of a poem

Stanza
a group of lines in a poem, considered as a unit

Stress
the emphasis given a spoken syllable

Villanelle
a nineteen-line poem consisting of five tercets (three-line stanzas) with the rhyme scheme aba and with a final quatrain (four-line stanza) of abaa

Volta
the turn in thought—from question to answer, problem to solution—that occurs at the beginning of the sestet in an Italian sonnet

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