Unit II: Poetry Terms
Lyric - a short poem, often songlike, with the emphasis not on narrative but on the speaker's emotion or reverie. Whereas a narrative is set in the past, telling what happened, a lyric is set in the present, catching a speaker in a moment of expression. (A lyric can, of course, glance forward or backward.)
1. elegy - a lyric poem that is melancholy or mournfully contemplative; sometimes laments a death.
2. ode (hymn) - a lyric poem that is long, elaborate, and on a lofty theme such as immortality or a hero's victory.
Dramatic monologue - single character speaking at a critical moment, usually addressed to some other character who remains silent. ("My Last Duchess").
Didactic poetry - written to state a message or teach a body of knowledge; not currently popular.
Narrative poem - a poem whose main purpose is to tell a story.
Satiric poem - a kind of comic poetry that conveys a message.
Diction - choice of words and/or grammatical constructions (i.e., formal, colloquial, jargon, slang, etc.)
Colloquial - everyday speech; particular to an area or group of people.
Tone - the attitude of the author, evident from the diction, use of symbolism, irony, and figures of speech. (Tone can be described as playful, sad, happy, humorous, etc.).
Figures of Speech - non-logical language; not to be taken literally.
1. simile - items from different classes are compared by a connective such as "like," "as," or "than" or by a verb such as "appears" or "seems." If the objects compared are from the same class, e.g., "New York is like Chicago," no simile is present. An appropriate simile: "She is like the rose."
2. metaphor - items from different classes are implicitly compared, WITHOUT a connective such as "like" or "as." ("She is the rose, the glory of the day.")
a. metonymy - something is named that replaces something closely related to it. (In the following passage, James Shirley names certain objects ["Scepter and crown," "scythe and spade"], using them to replace social classes [powerful people and poor people] to which they are related:
Scepter and crown must tumble down
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
b. synecdoche - the whole is replace by the part, or the part by the whole. ("He has a new set of WHEELS." "Give me a HAND.")
3. personification - giving human qualities to abstractions or inanimate objects such as love, beauty, etc. ("The cat, disappointed, wondered where I'd been all day." ; "When love calls, wild hearts fly.")
4. apostrophe - an address to a person or thing not literally listening. ("O Santa, bring me that Porsche I've always wanted...." "O lovely rose, your perfume fills the air.")
Irony - without using figures of speech, speakers may use this device, saying things that are not to be taken literally, forming a contrast.
1. verbal irony - contrast between what is said and what is meant.
a. sarcasm - heavy, mocking verbal irony. Almost never found in literature.
b. understatement - saying less than what is meant. (to Bill Clinton: "I suppose you have a FEW things on y our mind....")
c. hyperbole (overstatement) - exaggeration. ("He died a thousand deaths.")
2. dramatic irony - contrast between what is intended and what is accomplished.
Paradox - an apparent contradiction. ("He who would save his life must lose it" or "The child is father of the man.")
Connotation - suggested or associated meaning. (skeleton = death)
Denotation - dictionary definition. (skeleton = bony structure)
Imagery - sensory content of poems; appeals to the five senses.
Symbol - an image loaded with significance beyond literal definition; suggestive rather than definitive.
1. natural symbols - symbols recognized as standing for something in particular even by people from different cultures. (Rain usually stands for fertility or the renewal of life; a forest--mental darkness or chaos; a mountain--stability, etc.).
2. conventional symbols - symbols which people have agreed to accept as standing for something other than themselves (a poem about the cross would probably be about Christianity; similarly, the rose has long been a symbol for love).
Rhythm - stresses at regular intervals.
Prosody - the study of the principles of verse structure, including meter, rhyme, and other sound effects, and stanzaic patterns.
Hovering stress - the stress is equally distributed over two adjacent syllables.
Meter - a pattern of stressed (accented) sounds in English poetry (meter from the Greek word for "measure").
Foot - the basic unit of measurement in a line of poetry. On rare occasions, it is a single stressed syllable, but generally a foot consists of two or three syllables, one of which is stressed. (Stress is indicated by ; lack of stress by ). The repetition of feet, then, produces a pattern of stresses throughout the poem.
1. iam (iambic) - one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. The iam is the most common pattern in English poetry.
2. trochee (trochaic) - one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable.
3. anapest (anapestic) - two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable.
4. dactyl (dactylic) - one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables.
5. spondee (spondaic) - two stressed syllables; most often used as a substitute for an iamb or trochee.
Metrical line - line consists of one or more feet and is named for the number of feet in it.
1. monometer - one foot
2. dimeter - two feet
3. trimeter - three feet
4. tetrameter - four feet
5. pentameter - five feet
6. hexameter - six feet
7. heptameter - seven feet
8. octameter - eight feet
Scansion - scanning a line of poetry for the kind and number of feet in it.
Rhyme - repetition of identical or similar sounds.
1. perfect (exact) rhyme - differing consonant sounds are followed by identical stressed vowel sounds, and the following sounds, if any, are identical (foe/toe, meet/fleet, buffer/rougher).
2. half-rhyme (off-rhyme) - only the final consonant sounds of the words are identical; the stressed vowel sounds as well as the initial consonant sounds, if any, differ (soul/oil, mirth/forth, trolley/bully.
3. eye-rhyme - the sounds do not in fact rhyme, but the words look as though they would rhyme (cough/bough).
4. masculine rhyme - the final syllables are stressed and, after their differing initial consonant sounds, are identical in sound (stark/mark, support/retort).
5. feminine rhyme (double rhyme) - stressed rhyming syllables are followed by identical unstressed syllables (revival/arrival, flatter/batter).
6. end rhyme (terminal rhyme) - the rhyming words occur at the ends of the lines.
7. internal rhyme - rhyme occurs within lines. ("Each narrow cell in which we dwell.")
8. alliteration - sometimes defined as the repetition of initial sounds ("All the awful auguries," or "Bring me my bow of burning gold"), and sometimes as the prominent repetition of a consonant ("after life's fitful fever").
9. assonance - the repetition, in words of proximity, of identical vowel sounds preceded and followed by differing consonant sounds. (Whereas tide and hide are rhymes, tide and mine are assonantal.)
10. consonance - the repetition of identical consonant sounds and differing vowel sounds in words in proximity (fail/feel, rough/roof, pitter/patter). Sometimes consonance is more loosely defined as the repetition of a consonant (fail/peel).
Onomatopoeia - the use of words that imitate sounds, such as hiss or buzz.
Stanza - a rhythmical unit in which lines of poetry are commonly arranged (from an Italian word meaning "room" or "stopping-place").
Verse - can be either a stanza or a single line of poetry.
(Note: in discussing stanzas, rhymes are indicated by identical letters. Thus, abab indicates that the first and third lines rhyme with each other, while the second and fourth lines are linked by a different rhyme.)
1. couplet - a stanza of two lines, usually, but not necessarily, with end-rhymes.
a. heroic couplet - a rhyming couplet of iambic pentameter, often "closed," that is, containing a complete thought, with a fairly heavy pause at the end of the first line and a still heavier one at the end of the second.
2. triplet (or tercet) - a three-line stanza, usually with one rhyme.
3. quatrain - a four-line stanza, rhymed or unrhymed.
a. heroic (elegiac) quatrain - iambic pentameter, rhyming abab.
4. sonnet - a closed, fixed form. A fourteen-line poem, predominantly in iambic pentameter.
a. Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet - named for the Italian poet Francesco Petrarch (1304-74), has two divisions: the first eight lines (rhyming abba abba) are the octave, the last six (rhyming cd cd cd, or a variant) are the sestet.
b. English (Shakespearean) sonnet - usually arranged into three quatrains and a couplet, rhyming abab cdcd efef gg.
5. villanelle - a closed, fixed French form; 5 tercets and a quatrain.
Blank verse - English poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Free verse (vers libre) - rhythmical lines varying in length, adhering to no fixed metrical pattern, and usually unrhymed. Seems formless but is not. Form or pattern often largely based on repetition and parallel grammatical structure.
Prose poem - a short work that looks like prose but is highly rhythmical or rich in images, or both.
Closed form - some regular pattern is evident.
1. fixed form - closed form which adheres to certain strict rules (such as the sonnet, villanelle, etc.)
Open form - no identifiable patterns of rhyme, rhythm, meter.