Poetic Terminology

1. Alliteration- repetition of a particular sound or syllable two or more times in a group [EX: Elderly elephants egress elegantly] 2. Allusion- casual reference or implication of something [EX: Titles of books often allude to what the contents will hold, subtly or not. A book titled Little House on the Prairie implies that there will be a small house on a plain of grass. ] 3. Analogy-two things that have something in common making them comparable [EX: ‘His resolve was that of a rock. Meaning his determination was hard, in similarity to the hardness of a rock. ] 4. Anapest- two short syllables, or two unstressed syllables followed by one long, or stressed syllable [EX: A classic example is from the poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house (short syllables bold, long syllables underlined)] 5. Assonance-repetition of vowel sounds to create a rhythm in a line (sentence or phrase) using consonance and alliteration [EX: ‘Try to light the fire’ is a good example] 6. Ballad-a song of sorts with two or more stanzas, sung to a melody, generally of romantic character [EX: There are a number of examples ranging from rock ballads like Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon-Jovi or November Rain by Guns N’ Roses to classics like Angel of Music from Phantom of the Opera or the mournful ballad I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables] 7. Blank verse- unrhyming verse, generally put in iambic pentameter [EX: The Ball Poem By John Berryman “What is the boy now, who has lost his ball/What, what is he to do? I saw it go/Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then/Merrily over-there it is in the water! ] 8. Concrete poetry- the typographical arrangement of the poem is as important as the content of the poem itself [EX: The author Ellen Hopkins writes concrete poetry in all 6 of her books—Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, and Tricks. ] 9. Connotation- implied meaning associated with certain words [EX: Cheap has a negative connotation, implying that someone is too tight with money. Economical has a positive connotation, implying that someone spends their money wisely. ] 10. Denotation- literal definition of words [EX: Cheap and economical are both defined as spending little money] 11. Dactyl- In essence, the opposite of anapest. One long or stressed syllable, followed by two short or unstressed syllables. [EX: Basketball is an example of a dactyl. Ba-sket-ball (short syllables bold, long syllables underlined)] 12. Diction-a way of speaking, where the specific choice of words makes one sound better, more intelligent. [EX: A speaker may sound more distinguished, and his audience may admire his diction more, by certain choice of words. Using a word like “morose” instead of simply “sad”, or “elated” instead of merely “happy”. ] 13. Dramatic monologue- One person performs a speech that defines a certain theatrical moment. [EX: Monologues are common place in plays, musicals, movies TV shows, the whole theatric industry. It is how certain moments are defined. Some very famous monologues, that many have been modeled after is in Shakespeare’s Othello when the character Iago frequently talks to seemingly to himself, so as to let the audience in on his sinister plots. ] 14. English sonnet (Shakespearean sonnet) (what is rhyme scheme and how are the 14 lines split)- An English sonnet is a song following strict guidelines: rhyme scheme and only 14 lines.

Every line is in iambic pentameter. Shakespeare’s sonnets generally have a rhyming scheme of a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. The last two lines are a couplet. [EX: Shakespeare’s Sonnet Number 18 “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?… and this gives life to thee. ”] 15. Italian sonnet- (Petrarchan sonnet) (what is rhyme scheme and how are the 14 lines split)- The structure is based in parts of an argument: proposition describing the problem then proposes the solution. The ninth line is generally known for being the turn from problem to resolution.
It is also traditionally in iambic pentameter as well as English sonnets. The pattern in Italian sonnets starts with a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a, has two options for the middle: c-d-e-c-d-e or c-d-c-c-d-c. [EX: Francesco Petrarch’s Visions is an example of an Italian sonnet “Being one day at my window all alone…oft makes me wayle so hard a desire”] 16. Elegy-a melancholy, or plaintive poem generally mourning someone who is dead. [EX: Walt Whitman’s O Captain! My Captain! “Here Captain! Dear father! /This arm is beneath your head;/It is some dream that on deck,/You’ve fallen cold and dead”] 17.
Metaphor- figure of speech that describes something through comparison to something entirely unrelated otherwise. [EX: “feeling blue”, “broken heart” or “early bird” are all metaphors. You can’t feel a color, it just refers to a feeling of sadness. “Broken heart” doesn’t mean that a heart is physically broken, it just refers to a feeling of hurt feelings. “Early bird” doesn’t mean that someone is actually a bird, it just means they are an early riser. ] 18. Epic- Traditionally long, it narrates the adventures or lives of heroes fighting their adversaries. EX: The Illiad and the Odyssey by Homer are both examples of epics. ] 19. Epigram- Satirical and memorable statement, that is brief and interesting. [EX: Oscar Wilde once said “I can resist everything but temptation. ” This is an example of an epigram not found in poetry. Shakespeare wrote “So all my best is dressing old words new,/Spending again what is already spent;/For as the sun is daily new and old,/So is my love still telling what is told. ”
20. Free verse- poem without rhyme or regular meter. EX: “After the Sea-Ship—after the whistling winds;/After the white-gray sails, taut to their spars and ropes,/Below, a myriad, myriad waves, hastening, lifting up their necks,/Tending in ceaseless flow toward the track of the ship. ” After the Sea-Ship By Walt Whitman] 21. Imagery- descriptive language, written to “paint” a picture. [EX: Imagery and metaphors are very similar, i. e. “Her eyes twinkled like starlight” is a metaphor and creates imagery at the same time. ] 22. Iamb-metrical foot in poetry. [EX: Some words that are an iamb would be: behold, amuse, depict, destroy, or insist.
The title Of Mice and Men uses iamb. Iambic pentameter is a common form of metrical line using iamb. “But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east and Juliet is the sun” from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare is an example of the use of iambic pentameter. ] 23. Lyric poem-Traditionally has rhyming schemes, expressing emotions. [EX: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe is a lyrical poem. “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary…Shall be lifted—nevermore! ”] 24. Limerick-Humorous verse with a rhyming scheme of a-a-b-b-a, three long lines then two short lines. EX: Hickory Dickory Dock is a famous example of a limerick. “Hickory, dickory, dock,/The mouse ran up the clock,/The clock struck one,/And down he run,/Hickory, dickory, dock. ”] 25. Meter-basic rhythmic structure of a verse. 26. Myth-story from history, generally explaining some natural phenomenon. [In Greek Mythology, Zeus is the explanation for lightning, he throws it from the heavens when he is angry. ] 27. Personification-adding a human trait or characteristic to something nonhuman or inanimate, generally in abstract form. [EX: The Cat and the Fiddle is a classic example of personification.
The line “the little dog laughed,” adds a human quality to a dog. ] 28. Occasional poem- specific poems composed for an occasion. [EX: A Visit From St. Nicholas is an example of occasional poetry. It the night before Christmas, and was written specifically for Christmas. ] 29. Onomatopoeia-a sound made into a word. [EX: Comics are known for onomatopoeias. “Bam”, “pow”, or “boom” are all onomatopoeias and are used commonly to describe the sounds of a fight or explosion. ] 30. Protest poem-designed to challenge or undermine common ideals (or uncommon, doesn’t matter really), often directed to authority figures or establishments.
Frequently, a taboo subject is used to create this challenge, using vulgar language, and demeaning popular beliefs. [EX: Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead from the timeless The Wizard of Oz is a clear example of protest poetry, as it makes fun of an authority figure post-mortem. ] 31. Symbolic poem- extended metaphor, essentially. [EX: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is an example of symbolic poetry. He talks about two roads and which he should take: the well traveled, or the one no one else has taken. The roads symbolize two major life choices, and what the reasons are for taking either one. 32. Syllabic verse- poems that have a constrained number of syllables per line. If anything like anapest or dactyl is included, it is secondary to the syllabic pattern. [EX: Haikus are an example of syllabic poetry, always in the order of five, seven, five by line. Basho Matsuo wrote: “An old silent pond…/A frog jumps into the pond,/splash! Silence again” which follows the pattern of the haiku. ] 33. Tone- attitude or style created by the poem. [EX: The tone in To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming of age.

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