Glossary

  • Antonym
  • A word that is opposite of another.

  • Apostrophe
  • Used to address someone or something invisible, an inanimate object, a dead or absent person, or a spirit.  Apostrophe gives life where there is none; it gives substance to the intangible.

  • Assonance
  • The repetition of vowel sounds.

  • Avant-garde Poetry
  • Poetry that expresses and illustrates how art should exist for art’s sake; where ultra creative and innovative poets seek to achieve with their poetry what has not yet been achieved, partly because it is in disagreement with the status quo; poetry that is experimental and that commonly expresses views which are unorthodox. 

  • Ballad
  • A song or poem that tells a story. 

  • Ballade
  • A poem that usually contains three stanzas of seven, eight, or ten lines and a shorter final stanza (or envoy) of four or five lines. All stanzas end with the same one-line refrain. 

  • Bard
  • Historically, a person who composed and recited epic or heroic poems while often playing a musical instrument such as the harp or the lyre. 

  • Blank Verse
  • Unrhymed iambic pentameter. 

  • Blues Poem
  • A poem that typically reflects the feelings and experiences of African Americans during the slave era.  During this time, slaves would sing a blues poem as they performed their duties out in the fields.  A good blues poem can be easily identified by the African American slave dialect used by the poet to reflect its natural origins. 

  • Breve
  • A mark overtop a vowel to indicate a short vowel sound.  For example, (?) indicates how the (u) is pronounced in the word “sun.” 

  • Caesura
  • A break, pause, or interruption in a verse indicated with a double vertical line ( || ). 

  • Canzona (Canzone)
  • Lyric poetry that is written in Italian style, closely resembling the madrigal; a poem in which each word that appears at the end of a line of the first stanza appears again at the end of one of the lines in each of the following stanzas. 

  • Carpe Diem
  • Latin phrase meaning “seize the day.”  The original carpe diem poem was an ode written by the Latin poet Horace. 

  • Catharsis
  • The purging of emotions in an act to cleanse one’s soul; an important element prevalent in Greek tragedies.  

  • Cento
  • A poem composed wholly by using the works of other authors. 

  • Chansons de Geste
  • An epic poem written in assonant verse about historical or legendary events or figures. 

  • Classicism and Neoclassicism
  • Poetry created using traditional standards of literature of ancient Greece and Rome.  Classicism can refer to either art produced in antiquity or later; neoclassicism always refers to art created later but inspired by the artistic standards of ancient times.  In England, classicism reached its peak in the works of poets like John Dryden and Alexander Pope.   

  • Clerihew
  • A fixed form with an AABB rhyme scheme named after its inventor Edmund Clerihew Bentley, this form consists of one quatrain where the first line would represent the subject of a sentence, stating specifically a legendary or historical figure.  The second line would represent the clause of a sentence, usually beginning with a verb.  The third and fourth lines are either a continuation of the first and second lines or express a final complete thought often further describing the figure.
     
    Example:  Sir Christopher Wren Example:  James Watt
        Said, “I am going to dine with some men.   Was the hard-boiled kind of Scot:.
        If anybody calls   He thought any dream
        Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”   Sheer waste of steam.
    —Edmund Clerihew Bentley —W. H. Auden

     

  • Cliché
  • Language or ideas that have become trite or commonplace through overuse; stereotypical, boring, unoriginal language. 

  • Closed Form
  • What a poet achieves when they follow a particular form or pattern with rhyme scheme and meter; poems generally look regular and symmetrical; words are perfectly used and placed, leaving no room for enhancement. 

  • Closure
  • The effect of finality, balance, and completeness that leaves the reader with a sense of fulfilled expectations. 

  • Colloquial Language
  • Informal writing of literate people; ordinary conversation as opposed to formal writing. 

  • Conceit
  • A particularly unusual or fanciful comparison extended throughout a poem. 

  • Concrete Language
  • Points to actual events or facts as opposed to abstractions or vague language that speaks of events in terms that only the poet and a close circle of family and friends could understand. 

  • Connotation
  • The meaning suggested by a word, outside its literal meaning or definition; all other associations aside from a denotative meaning.
     
          Example:  The denotation of the word “black” is an absence of color.
      The connotation of “black” is something that is dark and sinister.
  • Consonance
  • Repetition of consonant (non-vowel) sounds in some other position than in the beginning of a word. (Example: mother, brother, father) 

  • Content
  • Something that is to be expressed through poetic verse; the subjects and topics written about. 

  • Conventions
  • Devices and features of a literary work such as themes, subjects, attitudes, or figures of speech. 

  • Couplet
  • A two-line stanza that usually rhymes. 

  • Dactyl
  • A metrical foot in which a stressed syllable is followed by two unstressed syllables. 

  • Dedication
  • A formal, printed inscription printed in a book dedicating it to a person, cause, etc. 

  • Denotation
  • Dictionary definition of a word. 

  • Denotative and Connotative Language
  • Describes the meaning and the emotions evoked by certain language, unlike concrete language.

  • Diction
  • Choice of words (i.e. concrete or abstract). 

  • Didactic Poetry
  • Written to convey a message or teach a body of knowledge.

    Dramatic Monologue—a poem written as a speech made by a character in a play at some decisive moment. 

  • Elegy
  • A lament conveying the circumstances of a loss of a loved one; more broadly, a somber meditation on the passing of men and the things they value. 

  • End Rhyme
  • A rhyme in the last syllables of lines of verse. 

  • End-stopped
  • When a line ends in a full pause, usually indicated by a mark of punctuation. 

  • Enjambment
  • Occurs when the idea in one line carries over into the next line with no pause or terminal punctuation at the end of the line; occurs when there is an inappropriate, unnatural or awkward line-break. 

  • Envoy
  • A short stanza concluding a poem in certain archaic metrical forms, as a ballade or sestina, serving as either a dedication or summarizing or emphasizing the theme or expressing the moral of the poem. 

  • Epic
  • A long narrative written in poetic verse, tracing the adventures of a popular hero. 

  • Epigram
  • A short, often satirical poem usually ending with a witty, ingenious turn of thought. 

  • Epistrophe
  • The repetition of a word, words, or expression at the end of two or more successive verses. 

  • Euphemism
  • The substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that might offend or suggest something unpleasant. 

  • Extended metaphor
  • Reaches beyond the usual word or phrase to extend throughout a stanza or an entire poem, usually by using multiple comparisons between the unlike objects or ideas. 

  • Fabliau
  • A short metrical verse prevalent in the 12th and 13th centuries in the north of France, usually ribald and humorous. 

  • Feminine Rhyme
  • Occurs between words in which an unstressed syllable follows a stressed syllable. 

  • Figurative Language
  • Another term for imagery; when a figure or image in a poem represents something else. 

  • Figure of Sound
  • Conveys and reinforces the meaning or experience of poetry through the skillful use of sound. 

  • Figure of Speech
  • Allows a poet to create comparisons between two objects, thoughts, or ideas.  Simile and metaphor are the two basic figures of speech. 

  • First-Person Narration
  • Indicated by the pronouns “I” and “we”; speaks from an individual’s perspective, usually a participant in what is being discussed, or who, if not directly involved, expresses her own opinions, thoughts, and feelings about what she observes. 

  • Foot (plural Feet)
  • A single unit within the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables that are repeated within a single line. 

  • Form
  • The arrangement, manner, or method used to convey the content; how ideas or a story is represented.

  • Found Poem
  • Text or language that is not written with poetic intention but that contains certain poetic elements and, with proper line breaks, can be converted into a poem. 

  • Free Verse
  • Verse free of rhyme and meter. 

  • Genre
  • A class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like. 

  • Ghazal
  • A classic rhyming pattern in Arabic and Persian; in English, a ghazal is a series of unrhymed, loosely connected couplets. 

  • Haiku
  • Three unrhymed lines of poetry, which have five, seven, and five syllables respectively; a form that usually presents seasonal, natural imagery in a concise but meaningful way.  Traditionally and ideally, a haiku presents a pair of contrasting images, one suggestive of time and place, the other a vivid but fleeting observation; working together, they evoke mood and emotion. 

  • Harlem Renaissance
  • A movement in the early 1900s in which African-Americans made strong,  impressionable influences on American society, politics, music, literature, and culture after migrating from the South to a new suburb in New York City called Harlem.  Noteworthy poets of the Harlem Renaissance include Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Langston Hughes. 

  • Heptameter
  • Seven feet per line. 

  • Heroic Couplet (closed couplet)
  • Two rhymed lines of iambic pentameter, where the first line ends with a slight pause and the second is end-stopped. 

  • Hexameter
  • Six feet per line. 

  • Homonym
  • A word that has the same sound and the same spelling as another word. 

  • Homophone
  • A word that has the same sound as another word but a different spelling and meaning. 

  • Hyperbole
  • A figure of speech indicating overstatement or exaggeration. 

  • Iamb
  • Most common metrical foot, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. 

  • Iambic Pentameter
  • Five iambic feet per line. 

  • Idealism
  • Values standards of perfection through subjectivity and imagination more than formal qualities or the faithful portrayal of nature. 

  • Idyll
  • A poem or prose composition, usually describing pastoral scenes, simple episodes, or charming incidents. 

  • Imagery
  • Strong, descriptive language evoking sensory impressions on the reader; a word or group of words referring to any sensory experience. 

  • Imagism
  • A poetic movement signifying important elements such as visual imagery and dry, clear language; advocated free verse as well as new rhythmic effects, colloquial language, and the expression of ideas and emotions with clear, well-defined images. 

  • Imperfect Rhyme
  • Occurs when consonant and vowels sounds are not echoed exactly between words, but are still similar, either by sight or sound. 

  • Impressionism
  • An early twentieth century movement embracing the use of images and symbols.  Impressionistic poets sought to portray the effects and sensory impressions of life and its events rather than the objective characteristics.  

  • Interior Monologue
  • When a character’s thoughts and mental associations are used to indirectly convey action and external events; the character’s thoughts are usually not spoken aloud. 

  • Internal Rhyme
  • Occurs when a rhyme is partially or completely contained within lines of poetry, as opposed to always appearing at the end of lines. 

  • Invocation
  • The act of invoking or calling upon a deity, spirit, etc. for aid, protection, inspiration, or the like. 

  • Irony of Fate/Situation
  • When what occurs in a situation is the opposite of what was expected to occur. 
  • Irony, Dramatic
  • Contains an element of contrast; occurs when the reader or audience is aware of something of which a character with limited information is not aware. 
  • Irony, Verbal
  • Sarcastic or exaggerated language that is not meant to be taken literally; similar to sarcasm and hyperbole, verbal irony occurs when what is stated expresses something opposite to its literal meaning.   (i.e. It’s raining cats and dogs—meaning it’s raining heavily.) 

  • Jargon
  • Language that is not common to all or that cannot be understood by all due to either its association, it being unintelligible or meaningless, or its pretentious vocabulary. 

  • Jazz Poetry
  • Closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance; has evolved over time from its conception in the early 1900s by African-Americans, to being maintained in the 1950s by counterculture and Beat poets, and now modernized with the coming of hip-hop music and Poetry Slams. 

  • Kyrielle
  • Verse composed in quatrains with lines of eight syllables, any rhyme scheme or no rhyme scheme, and with the last line of each stanza being a refrain. 
  • Limerick
  • A poetic form named after Limerick, Ireland, consisting of five anapestic lines with a usual rhyme scheme of a a b b a.  Lines 1, 2, and 5 are anapestic trimeters and lines 3 and 4 are dimeters.  A contemporary limerick can be suggestive or raunchy in nature while maintaining a base element of wit. 

  • Line
  • A unit in the structure of a poem consisting of one or more words arranged together. 

  • Line Break
  • The division between each line in a poem. 

  • Literal Meaning
  • A meaning that is the primary or strict meaning of a word or phrase; not figurative or metaphorical. 

  • Litotes
  • Understatement; employing affirmation by stating the negative of the contrary. 

  • Lyric Poetry
  • A relatively short poem (usually sixty lines or less), often written in first-person, that expresses the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker.  In early times, a lyric poem was sung to the music of the lyre, therefore associating the style with music.  Some lyric poems today still maintain musical elements such as rhythm, rhyme, and sound effects.  Many contemporary poets have changed it even more to now include voiced opinions, complicated feelings, and/or an argument. 

  • Masculine Rhyme
  • Stresses the final syllables in words. 

  • Metaphor
  • A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one object or idea is applied to another, thereby suggesting a likeness or analogy between them.  In simpler terms, a comparison between two objects or ideas that does not use “like” or “as.” 

  • Metaphysical Poetry
  • Started by a group of poets in the seventeenth century who wrote complex, intellectual, and philosophical verse with extended metaphors (or conceits) comparing very dissimilar things. 

  • Meter
  • A unit of line measurement that combines a fixed or varying number of syllables per line with the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. 

  • Metonymy
  • Oftentimes when something intangible is substituted for a tangible object that is closely associated with it. 

  • Mixed Metaphor
  • Occurs when two very dissimilar elements are connected, achieving a strange effect because the literal definitions of the elements are too unrelated to each other or because the resulting comparison is false, unlikely, or nonsensical. 

  • Modernism
  • An important movement in the early to mid-twentieth century that broke with traditional subjects and poetic forms to discover or create a new and contemporary means of personal expression.  At this time, new and radical social, political, and literary ideas transformed the landscape of American Poetry. 

  • Monologue
  • Characterized by a single speaker. 

  • Mood
  • A pervading atmosphere intended to influence the reader’s emotional response and create expectations of the poem’s conclusion. 

  • Narrative
  • That which tells a story. 

  • Naturalism
  • A movement that developed around the idea that art should represent nature and the world exactly and without moral judgment.  Walt Whitman was a naturalist poet. 

  • Negritude
  • A literary, ideological movement of French-speaking black intellectuals that utterly opposes and rejects the social, political, and moral domination of the West. 

  • Nonameter
  • Nine feet per line. 

  • Nonet
  • A group of nine. 

  • Objectivist Poetry
  • Poems are treated as objects that can be analyzed in terms of mechanical features.  Objectivists believed that, like poems, objects in everyday life could be valued for what they are, for their own qualities, rather than for the ideas they represent. William Carlos Williams was the first poet to ever use this term. 

  • Octameter
  • Eight feet per line. 

  • Octave
  • A stanza of eight lines. 

  • Ode
  • A poem that elevates a person, place, object, or occasion in exaltation. 

  • Ode, English
  • A combination of the Sicilian Quatrain and an Italian sestet, comprised of any number of ten line stanzas. 
  • Ode, Horatian
  • A poem in which there is no set pattern; any poem of any number of formal stanzas. 

  • Ode, Pindaric
  • A poem comprised of three parts:  the turn (strophe), the counterturn (antistrophe), and the stand (epode).  The first two sections are identical in pattern from the third section. 

  • Omniscient Narrator
  • The all-knowing narrator who can see all of the events surrounding a situation and can hear and convey the thoughts of all characters.  This narrator can see through walls, read people’s minds, see the future and the past, and make connections and observations that other characters or participants cannot make because their knowledge is limited to what they know and can see, hear, feel, or otherwise sense. 

  • Onomatopoeia
  • The formation or use of words that imitate sounds, or any word whose sound is suggestive of its meaning. 

  • Ottava Rima
  • A stanza of eight lines composed in iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme abababcc (the cc is a closed couplet). 

  • Oxymoron
  • Uses words that are contradictory or incongruous but whose surprising juxtaposition expresses a truth or has a dramatic effect. 

  • Pantoum (pantun)
  • Arranged in repeated quatrains and patterns, the pantoum easily enchants with its close repetition of lines.  Each line in a stanza is repeated in the following stanza though not in subsequent order.

  • Parable
  • A brief story that teaches a lesson. 

  • Paradox
  • A statement that contains seemingly contradictory elements or appears contradictory to common sense, yet can be true when viewed from another angle.

  • Parody
  • A humorous imitation for either comic effect or ridicule of the style and content of another work.

  • Pastoral
  • A form of poetry that imitates and celebrates the virtues of rural life.

  • Pathos
  • Is an element in artistic expression that evokes pity, sorrow, or compassion. 

  • Pause
  • A break or suspension in a line of verse.

  • Pentameter
  • Five feet per line. 

  • Perfect Rhyme
  • Occurs when both the consonant and the vowel sound in two words sound identical, even if the words are spelled differently, as in “to” and “two,” and “fight” and “sight.” 

  • Persona
  • The person who is talking from whose point of view the ideas and story in the poem are expressed. 

  • Personification
  • When life is given to inanimate objects. 

  • Poetry
  • An elusive term that encompasses verse ranging from the three-line haiku to the book-length epic. 

  • Point of View
  • The perspective from which you tell your story or make your point. 

  • Prose Poem
  • A short poem written in the form of a block similar to a prose paragraph; a poem that is just as effective without the rhythm and rhyme of a line. 

  • Pun
  • A word or phrase, sometimes referred to as a “play on words,” that suggests multiple meanings or interpretations. 

  • Pyrrhic
  • Two unstressed syllables in a metrical foot; syllables usually composed of two one-syllable words that are secondary to the meaning of the phrase.  Oftentimes theses words are conjunctions or articles.

  • Realism
  • Poets of the realist movement endeavored to accurately portray nature and real life without idealization, employing simple language, simple form, and clear images. 

  • Refrain
  • A phrase or line, generally important to the central topic, that is repeated word for word, usually at regular intervals throughout a poem. 

  • Rhetorical Question
  • A question that does not require an answer. 

  • Rhyme
  • The similarity or association of accented sounds in two or more words. 

  • Rhyme Royal
  • Consists of seven lines of iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme ababbcc.

  • Rhyme Scheme
  • The pattern of end rhymes throughout a stanza or poem. 

  • Rhythm
  • The uniform reoccurrence of an element, such as strong and weak accents and long and short syllables, to create a particular sound. 

  • Rising Meter
  • When the movement of iambic and anapestic meters rises from an unstressed syllable to a stressed.

  • Romanticism
  • A period in Western society from 1780–1840 that explored and conveyed the fantastical and picturesque.  Romantic poetry focused on thought and feeling and the creativity of the individual.  It delivers connotations of erotic sentiments, magnificent natural scenes, and adventure. In 1798 the collaborative work of William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads, became an exemplar of romantic poetry. 
  • Rondeau / Rondel
  • A poem consisting of three stanzas, built on two rhymes with the scheme ABba abAB abbaA(B).  Altogether there are 13 lines in which a 2-line refrain occurs twice in the first eight lines (1–2 and 7–8), the first line also being repeated as the last line. 

  • Rubaiyat Stanza
  • A quatrain of decasyllabic lines rhyming aaba.  This term is taken from Edward Fitzgerald’s famous collection, Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, adapted from a selection of poems by Persian poet Umar al-Khayyám. 

  • Satire
  • Works of art in either prose or verse that comically or wittily mock and ridicule social conventions and shortcomings of the author’s own time or a past era such as politics, religion, hypocrisy, war, racism, etc.  Well-written satire evokes laughter. Satiric effects are also achieved through other forms of imitation such as caricature, travesty, and burlesque.  Alexander Pope is the most popular of the English satirists, often writing about the general follies of man.

  • Scansion
  • A notation system for meter in metrical poetry using symbols, numbers, and letters.  In scansion, it is common to mark long and short syllables, stressed and unstressed syllables, metrical divisions, boundaries between feet, and metrical pauses. 

  • Senryu
  • A form of Japanese verse that is comic, parodic, or satiric in nature.

  • Septet
  • A seven-line stanza of varying meter and rhyme scheme, usually reserved for lyric poetry.

  • Serranilla
  • A Spanish poem composed in short meter, dealing lightly with the subject of the meeting of a gentleman and a pretty country girl.  This form was particularly characteristic of the late medieval period.

  • Sestet
  • The minor division or last six lines of a sonnet preceded by an octave.  Commonly the octave will state a proposition or situation and the sestet states a conclusion.  Rhyme scheme can vary. 

  • Sestina (Sesta Rima)
  • Composed of six stanzas of six lines each, followed by an envoy of three unrhymed lines, in which there is a recurrent pattern of end words.  The same six end-words occur in each stanza but in a shifting order that follows a fixed pattern.  Each successive stanza takes it pattern from a reversed pairing of the lines of the preceding stanza.  The sestina is the most complicated of the verse forms introduced by the troubadours.  Below, numerals 1–6 represent end-words.

     
    stanza 1 — 123456
    stanza 2 — 615243
    stanza 3 — 364125
    stanza 4 — 532614
    stanza 5 —451362
    stanza 6 —246531
    envoy — 531 or 135
     
  • Setting
  • Time period and place (which can include geographical location) of a story.  Components of a setting create mood and tone. 

  • Sight/Eye Rhyme
  • Two or more words which appear to rhyme to the eye, in that their spelling is nearly identical; to the ear, however, they do not rhyme. 

  • Simile
  • A comparison between two words or ideas using “like” or “as.” 

  • Slam Poetry
  • Performance poetry in which poems are recited aloud and dramatized.  Members of the audience are chosen by an emcee to act as judges. 

  • Soliloquy
  • A monologue in which the actor speaks alone on the stage; it represents a character’s attempt to verbalize his thoughts whether consciously or unconsciously. 

  • Sonnet
  • A fourteen-line poem. 

  • Sonnet, Petrarchan (Italian)
  • The most widely used of the three types of sonnets, the Petrarchan follows the rhyme scheme abbaabba cdecde or cdcdcd whereby indicating a two-part division of thought; there is no closing couplet in this form.

  • Sonnet, Shakespearean (English)
  • Follows the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg. 

  • Sonnet, Spenserian
  • Follows the rhyme scheme abab bcbc cdcd ee. 

  • Spondaic Meter
  • A hexameter whose fifth foot contains a spondee rather than a dactyl, causing the verse to end in at least two spondees. 

  • Spondee
  • A foot of two stressed syllables.

  • Spontaneity
  • When words, ideas, feelings, and emotions flow naturally and spontaneously from a poet without contrivance. 

  • Sprung Rhythm
  • A term coined by Gerard Manley Hopkins upon a metrical discovery he made.  He describes it as such, “ . . . measured by feet of from one to four syllables, regularly, and for particular effects any number of weak or slack syllables may be used.  It has one stress, which falls on the only syllable, if there is only one, or, if there are more, then scanning as above, on the first, and so gives rise to four sorts of feet, a monosyllable and the so-called accentual Trochee, Dactyl, and the First Paeon . . .”. 

  • Stanza
  • A division of lines in a poem. 

  • Stanza Break
  • The space that separates two groups of lines to form separate stanzas. 

  • Stichomythia
  • In both Greek and Latin drama, this is line-by-line conversation between two characters.  Greek dramatists often used stichomythia in instances where there was simple dialogue, questions and answer, and prayer, but its most impressive function is to render intense debate or interrogation. 

  • Stress
  • A long vowel sound or the accented syllable of a word.

  • Structuralism
  • A term coined by Jakobson in 1929, which represented a new scholarly paradigm for the humanities and social sciences as well as a dialectical synthesis of the two global paradigms dominating European thought in the 19th century—Romanticism and Positivism.  During the first period of structuralism—from 1926 to 1934—Prague Structuralists in Czechoslovakia researched the internal organization of the poetic works of Roman Jakobson and Jan Muka?ovsky, whose histories of old and modern Czech metrics are the most representative works of this phase.  During the second period from 1934 to 1938, the Prague School extended its focus on literary history and began to study verbal art in relation to other social phenomena.  The last period dates from 1938 to 1948, and during this time the research of the Prague School shifted to the study of the human dimension of the artistic process.  Ten years after this, the communist take-over banned the structuralist study of art and the circle eventually fell apart. 

  • Style
  • What a poem says is one thing.  The language the poet chooses to use (how it is said), however, is what gives a poem style.  Style is an extension of mind and character that can be associated with either an individual or a group.  Language habits can be unique to an individual, where group habits can be further divided into three types—period, nation, and genre.  People share modes of expression over a period of time; nations share certain linguistic and literary habits; and certain specific modes of expression become established by convention as genres.  

  • Surrealism
  • A dream state in which reality and the unreal co-exist without contradicting one another; the suggestion of a dream in which the irrational is expressed through a synthesis of opposite meanings.  One fundamental feature associated with surrealist poetry is the need for vigilance in the organization of the psychic data culled through dreams, automatic writing, and self-induced hallucination.  Encounter of objects, persons, and words are the basis of the poetic composition which adapts the physical world to the poet’s ability to see connections. 

  • Syllabic Verse / Syllable Counting
  • Verse in which lines consciously adhere to a pre-determined number of syllables.  Meters are measured out by constraining the number of syllables, the number of stresses, or both. 

  • Syllable
  • One or more letters consisting of one or more vowel sounds in a word that work as a single unit of spoken language.

  • Syllepsis
  • A Greek term meaning “taking together” in which one word creates a shift in meaning that can be seen as a pun or an effect of ambiguity.  Syllepsis is a term closely associated with zeugma, in which the connecting word agrees both grammatically and semantically with both its objects or subjects.  In Syllepsis, however, the connecting or “yoking” word agrees with only one.  Shakespeare was quite fond of this device and a prime example can be found in his Othello where the character Iago plays to the senses of “lie”—lie with vs. lie on—interpreted to mean sleep with vs. tell lies about, in order to anger Othello, yet only through implication.    

  • Symbol
  • In common linguistic terminology, a symbol is a signifier of something else to which it is closely joined; it is a representation of one thing by another.  However, a symbol is not to be confused with a sign.  Unlike a green light, which is a sign that means go, a symbol maintains a deeper meaning(s).  Ocean waves, for example, can stand as a symbol for infinity, for there is no end to them.  They can also symbolize freedom from any type of pre-ordained form or constraint, as no two waves are alike and they come and go at a natural, uncontrollable pace. 

  • Symbolism
  • The refinement of the art of ambiguity to express the indeterminate in human sensibilities and in natural phenomena. 

  • Synalepha
  • A term used to identify all forms of elision in which two syllables are reduced to one. 

  • Synapheia
  • A Greek term meaning to fasten together.  In metrical verse, synapheia is the continuance of any two syllables or syllabic sequences that follow each other in delivery without interval, as part of the same flow of sound.  

  • Syncope
  • Omission of a syllable or sound from the middle of a word. 

  • Synecdoche
  • A rhetorical figure in which a part is substituted for the whole or a whole for the part. 

  • Synesthesia
  • A marvel that occurs when something is sensed, felt, perceived, or described in terms of something else. 

  • Synonym
  • One of two or more words that are similar in meaning. 

  • Syntax
  • The arrangement of linguistic elements in arbitrary but conventional sequences. 

  • Tail Rhyme
  • A popular medieval verseform of usually six or twelve lines in which a rhyming couplet is followed by a tail line which contains a rhyme that unites the stanza (i.e. aabccb, aabaab, aabccbddbeeb, aabaabaabaab). 

  • Tanka
  • A form of Japanese verse that originated in the seventh century, consisting of thirty-one syllables in lines of five, seven, five, seven, and seven.  

  • Tenor and Vehicle
  • According to I. A. Richards, these are the two essential ingredients of metaphor—tenor being the thing meant and vehicle being the thing said.  Tenor is the underlying meaning, the main subject of the metaphor, and vehicle carries and embodies the tenor as the analogy brought to the subject. 

  • Tercet
  • A verse unit of three lines, usually rhymed, mostly used as a stanzaic form.

  • Terza Rima
  • An Italian verseform of interlinked tercets, in which the second line of each tercet rhymes with the first and third lines of the one following it (i.e. aba bcb cdc, etc.).  With symbolic reference to the Holy Trinity, Terza Rima also suggests processes without beginning or end, in which connection and continuation are impeccably articulated. 

  • Tetrameter
  • A line of verse consisting of four metrical feet.

  • Texture
  • A necessary quality of sensory detail that gives purpose and meaning to objects in the poetic text. 

  • Theme
  • The main subject or topic. 

  • Third Person Narration
  • When a story is told by someone who is an outsider and not a character.  A third-person narrator may be limited or omniscient in their telling of events and refers to characters within the story as he, she, and they.  Third-person point-of-view is the most popular narrative form of storytelling.  

  • Tone
  • Where texture denotes tangible qualities in a poem, tone reflects what is intangible.  It creates a certain mood or aura (i.e. sentimental, romantic, bitter, etc.) 

  • Tragedy
  • A form of Western drama originating in Athens, Greece in the 6th century B.C.  Tragic plays were held in honor of the Greek god of the vine, Dionysus, also known as a suffering god who died every fall when grape vines were pruned and resurrected each spring with new growth.  Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides wrote the most famous Greek tragedies known today.  The plays served as a means of catharsis in which the audience cleansed and purged themselves of any desire for wrongdoing and learned lessons through the suffering of the characters and the tragic hero.   

  • Trimeter
  • A three-foot line in metrical verse. 

  • Triple Rhyme
  • Three consecutive syllables at the end of two or more lines that rhyme. 

  • Trochee
  • A metrical foot consisting of a heavy stress followed by a light stress. 

  • True Rhyme
  • Words that rhyme on a single stressed syllable. 

  • Verse
  • Language given rhythmic order and arranged into lines. 

  • Verset
  • Derived from the short verses of the Bible; generally refers to short lines. 

  • Versification
  • The art of writing verse as distinguished from prosody. 

  • Verso Piano
  • In Italian prosody, any line that has the dominant accent on the penultimate syllable, making the line ending paroxytonic. 

  • Verso Sdrucciolo
  • In Italian prosody, any line that ends with a word where the dominant accent is on the antepenultimate syllable, making the line ending proparoxytonic. 

  • Verso Tronco
  • In Italian prosody, any line ending with an accented syllable (i.e. oxytonic). 

  • Villanelle
  • A poem of nineteen lines, with a pattern broken into five triplets and a quatrain.  The first line is repeated in lines 6, 12, and 18.  Line 3 is repeated in lines 9, 15, and 19.  The entire poem consists of only two rhymes—one sound is repeated thirteen times and the other six (aba, aba, aba, aba, aba, abaa.)  The main theme of a villanelle addresses the subject of loss. 

  • Virelai
  • A medieval French lyric form (a common dance song) developed in the 13th century performed by one or more leading voices and a chorus.

     

  • Voice
  • A vehicle through which private vision is translated to the world.

     

  • Volta
  • A musical and prosodic term for a turn; more specifically, the transition point between the octave and the sestet of a sonnet.