Poetry definitions




Poetry definitions


The following texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.



The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.



Poetry definitions


Some Important Poetry Definitions


Alliteration – is the repetition of the same consonant or vowel sound in words or stressed syllables that are close together in a poem.  Assonance is the repetition of similar or identical vowel sounds.  For example: “Dip the tip of your fingers in liquid”.  Consonance is the repetition of the same consonant sound within words that are close together.  For example: “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.”


Allusion- a brief reference to a person, place, or event from history, literature, the Bible, mythology, etc. which is assumed to be sufficiently well known to be recognized by the reader.  For example:

“Brightness falls from the air

Queens have died young and fair,

Dust hath closed Helen’s eye…”

This allusion is to the famously beautiful Helen of Troy


Aubade- A song greeting the new day and often expressing the regret of lovers who must part at daybreak.  For example:  Act III of Romeo and Juliet.


Cacophony- refers to the use of harsh, unpleasant sounds for poetic effect.  For example:  “The buzz-saw snarled and rattled”.  Euphony refers to the pleasant, musical quality produced by agreeable sounds and images in a line of poetry.  For example:  “The woods are lovely, dark and deep”.


Caesura- A pause or a break in the metrical or rhythmical progress of a line of verse. 


Carpe Diem – Meaning to “Seize the day”.  The phrase has come to be applied to literature, especially lyric poems that exemplify the spirit of “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.”  The theme was common in 16th and 17th century English love poetry.


Cliché- is a word or phrase that has been used so often that they are felt to be boring or tedious.  For example:  “neat” or “Show me the money” or “bigger and better”.

Diction- refers to the word choice and arrangement of poems (vocabulary) in a literary selection.  Words in poetic writing are usually chosen for their sound and meaning as well as for the ideas and feelings they suggest.  The diction in a poem depends on the subject, the poem type, the writer’s purpose, and his/her style. 


End-stopped- A line of verse in which both the grammatical structure and the sense reach completion at the end of the line.  For example:

“All are but parts of one stupendous whole

Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.”


Enjambment- A device used  by poets to escape the monotonous rhythm of the regular couplet or of blank verse by running the sense and grammatical structure past the second line of a couplet.  For example:

  “We have come home

            From the bloodless war
            With sunken hearts
            Our boots full of pride-
            From the true massacre of the soul
            When we have asked
            'What does it cost
            To be loved and left alone?” 

This segment of poem is a good example of enjambment because of the way you don't pause when you get to the end of the line; you keep on going, as if it were all one sentence, which it is.


Figurative Language – the result of the writer’s deliberate departure from usual word usage to gain strength and freshness of expression.  In other words, going beyond the literal interpretation of the words to create a strength and force in the words.


Haiku – A Japanese verse form consisting of 17 syllables in three lines.  Five syllables on line one and three and seven syllables in line two.


Hyperbole- a figure of speech based on exaggeration.  Hyperbole can be an effective device for securing attention, giving emphasis or creating a poetic effect.  For example:

“My teacher is so old she personally knew Shakespeare.”


Imagery – evokes sense-impressions with descriptive words; not only ‘mental pictures’ but anything appealing to the other senses as well.


Irony – a form of speech in which the actual intent is expressed in words that carry the opposite meaning.


Limerick- a form of nonsense verse, usually consisting of five anapestic lines with the rhyme scheme aabba.  The first, second and fifth lines have three feet; the third and fourth, two.  Limericks reached their peak in popularity when Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense was published in 1846. 

There was an old Man of the Dee,

Who was sadly annoyed by a Flea;

When he said, “I will scratch it!”

They gave him a hatchet,

Which grieved the old Man of the Dee. 


Literal Language  - Words used in their exact sense without embellishment.  In a literal translation the word signifies accuracy and thoroughness in presenting the exact meaning of the original.  The term is also used to distinguish language that is matter of fact and concrete from language that is marked by figures of speech.


Lyric – A type of poetry marked by emotion, melody, imagination and a

unified effect.  In informal English usage, lyrics are the words of a song.


Metaphor – a figure of speech based on a comparison that is implied rather than stated directly.  To say, He was a lion in the fight is to use a metaphor, whereas to say, He fought like a lion is a simile because the comparison is directly expressed.  A simile is a comparison between two different things, actions, or feelings using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.

Extended Metaphor -  an elaborated comparison and device that is frequently found in literature. 





Metonymy – A figure of speech in which the name of one thing is substituted to that of another with which it is closely associated. 

For example: the crown is used to mean the monarchy, and the stage for the theatrical profession.


Metre- In verse, a rhythm established by a pattern of similar stressed and unstressed syllables.  The most common metric feet are:  Iambic (stressed/unstressed), Trochaic (unstressed/stressed), Anapestic (stressed/stressed/unstressed), and Dactylic (unstressed/stressed/stressed).


Mood – the tone or atmosphere prevailing in any work of drama, literature, art, or music.


Ode – a lyric poem expressing exalted or enthusiastic emotion.  The ode is an elaborate lyric, expressed in language that is imaginative, dignified, and sincere.


Onomatopoeia – the use of words in which the sense is suggested by the sound.  For example:  hiss, buzz, gurgle, and sizzle.


Oxymoron – A phrase bringing together two contradictory terms.  For example:  wise fool, sad joy, and the sound of silence.


Paradox- a statement that seems contradictory or absurd and yet is true.  For example:

“To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.”


Pathetic Fallacy- a poetic convention whereby natural phenomena which cannot feel as humans do are described as if they could.  For example:

“They rowed her in across the foam –

The cruel, crawling foam.”


Personification- A figure of speech by which animals, abstract ideas, or inanimate things are referred to as if they were human. 


Pun- a play on words based on the similarity of sound between two words with different meanings.  For example:

“They went and told the sexton, and the sexton tolled the bell”.


Refrain or Chorus- a phrase or sentence repeated at regular intervals in a poem or song.  Refrains usually occur at the end of each stanza.


Rhyme- is the repetition of like sounds at regular intervals employed in versification or the writing of verse (i.e. poetry).  There are five primary types of rhyme:


  1. End Rhyme – Rhyme occurring at the end of a line of verse.  This is the most common rhyme form.  For example:

I was angry with my friend,

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.


  • Internal Rhyme – Rhyme contained within a line of verse.  For example:

The splendor falls on castle walls

And snowy summits old in story;

The long light snakes across the lakes

And the wild cataract leaps in glory.


  • Half Rhyme- Rhyme where the end syllables sound similar, but are not the same.  For example:

He went to the beach to paint

But arrived there much too late.


  • Slant or Imperfect Rhyme- Rhyming words in which the final consonants are identical but the preceding vowels differ.  For example:  bought/fight


  • Eye or Sight Rhyme- Rhyming words that conclude with the same spelling but do not rhyme.  For example:  creak/break




Rhyme Scheme- refers to the pattern of rhymes within a unit of verse.  It also refers to a labeling system used to describe the rhyming pattern in a poem.  In it, the word at the end of the first line is labeled A and each word that rhymes with it at the end of the subsequent lines is also labeled A.  The word at the end of the next unlabeled line is identified with a B, and each word that rhymes with it is labeled B as well.  The procedure is repeated until the pattern of rhyme in the whole poem is identified.  For example:

Whose woods these are I think I know             A

His house is in the village though;            A

He will not see me stopping here                    B

To watch his woods fill up with snow.         A


Satire- Verse or prose blending a critical attitude with humor and wit.  The purpose of satire is to ridicule frailties in human customs and institutions and by causing laughter, inspire their reform.


Sonnet- a lyric poem comprising of 14 rhyming lines of equal length, usually in iambic pentameter.

Italian Sonnet:  abbaabba cde cde OR abbaabba cdcdcd

English Sonnet: abab cdcd efef gg


Stanza- are lines which have been grouped together to form a unit within a poem (similar to paragraphs in a novel or short story).  Stanzas are categorized according to the number of lines they contain.  The most commonly used stanzas include the following:  couplet (two lines), triplet (three lines), quatrain (four lines), sestet (six lines), rhyme royal (seven lines) and octet (eight lines).


Symbol- a symbol is something that exists in its own right and yet stands for or suggests something else.  For example, a flag is a piece of colored cloth and a symbol of a country.


Theme- The central or dominating idea, thesis or meaning of a work.



Source : http://stairshome.wikispaces.com/file/view/Poetry+Definitions.doc

Web site link: http://stairshome.wikispaces.com

Google key word : Poetry definitions file type : doc

Author : N.Stairs

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Poetry definitions


If you want to quickly find the pages about a particular topic as Poetry definitions use the following search engine:



Poetry definitions


Please visit our home page


Larapedia.com Terms of service and privacy page




Poetry definitions