AP Poetry Terms

alliteration
the repetition of identical or similar consonant sounds, usually at the beginning of words

allusion
a reference in a work of literature to a historical or literary event, person, place or passage outside of the work

antithesis
a figure of speech characterized by strongly contrasting words, clauses, sentences, or ideas, as in “Man proposes; God disposes.” Antithesis is a balancing of one term against another for emphasis or stylistic effectiveness.

apostrophe
a figure of speech in which someone (usually, but not always absent), some abstract quality, or a nonexistent personage is directly addressed as though present

assonance
the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds

ballad meter
a four-line stanza rhymed abcd with four feet in lines one and three and three feet in lines two and four

blank verse
unrhymed iambic pentameter

cacophony
a harsh, unpleasant combination of sounds or tones.

caesura
a pause, usually near the middle of a line of verse, usually indicated by the sense of the line, and often greater than the normal pause

conceit
an ingenious and fanciful notion or conception, usually expressed through an elaborate analogy, and pointing to a striking parallel between two seemingly dissimilar things.

consonance
the repetition of similar consonant sounds in a group of words

couplet
a two-line stanza, usually with end-rhymes the same

devices of sound
the techniques of deploying the sound of words

diction
choice of words especially with regard to correctness, formality, clearness, or effectiveness

didactic poem
a poem which is intended primarily to teach a lesson

dramatic poem
a poem which employs a dramatic form or some element or elements of dramatic techniques as a means of achieveing poetic ends

elegy
a sustained and formal poem setting forth the poet’s meditations upon death or another solemn theme

end-stopped
a line with a pause at the end

enjambment
the continuation of the sense and grammatical construction from one line of poetry to the next

extended metaphor
an implied analogy, or comparison, which is carried throughout a stanza or an entire poem.

euphony
a style in which combinations of words pleasant to the ear predominate.

eye rhyme
rhyme that appears correct from spelling, but is half-rhyme or slant rhyme from the pronunciation

feminine rhyme
a rhyme of two syllables, one stressed and one unstressed, as “waken” and “forsaken” and “audition” and “rendition”

figurative language
writing that uses figures of speech (as opposed to literal language) such as metaphor, irony, and simile. Figurative language uses words to mean something other than their literal meaning.

free verse
poetry which is not written in a traditional meter but is still rhythmical

heroic couplet
two end-stopped iambic pentameter lines rhymed aa, bb, cc with the thought usually completed in the two-line unit

hyperbole
a deliberate, extravagant, and often outrageous exaggeration

imagery
the images of a literary work; the sensory details of a work; the figurative language of a work.

irony
the contrast between actual meaning and the suggestion of another meaning, or between what might be expected and what actually occurs

internal rhyme
rhyme that occurs within a line, rather than at the end

lyric poem
any short poem that presents a single speaker who expresses thoughts and feelings

masculine rhyme
rhyme that falls on the stressed and concluding syllables of the rhyme-words

metaphor
a figurative use of language in which a comparison is expressed without the use of a comparative term

meter
the repetition of a regular rhythmic unit in a line of poetry. each unit is known as a foot

metonymy
a figure of speech which is characterized by the substitution of a term naming an object closely associated with the word in mind for the word itself

mixed metaphors
the mingling of another metaphor with another immediately following with which the first is incongruous

narrative poem
a non-dramatic poem which tells a story or presents a narrative, whether simple or complex, long or short

octave
an eight-line stanza

onomatopoeia
the use of words whose sound suggests their meaning (such as “hiss,” “buzz,” or “zip”)

oxymoron
a form of paradox that combines a pair of contrary terms into a single expression

paradox
a situation or action or feeling that appears to be contradictory but on inspection turns out to be true or at least to make sense.

parallelism
any structure which brings together parallel elements, be these nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, or larger structures to show that the ideas in the parts or sentences are equal in importance.

paraphrase
a restatement of an idea in such a way as to retain the meaning while changing the diction and form

personification
a kind of metaphor that give inanimate objects or abstract ideas human characteristics

poetic foot
a group of syllables in verse usually consisting of one accented syllable and one or two unaccented syllables associated with it

pun
a play on words that are identical or similar in sounds but have sharply diverse meanings

quatrain
a four-line stanza with any combination of rhymes

refrain
a group of words forming a phrase or sentence and consisting of one or more lines repeated at intervals in a poem, usually at the end of a stanza

rhyme
close similarity or identity between accented syllables occupying corresponding positions in two or more lines of verse

rhyme royal
a seven-line stanza of iambic pentameter rhymes ababbcc, used by Chaucer and other medieval poets

rhythm
the recurrence of stressed and unstressed syllables

sarcasm
a type of irony in which a person appears to be praising something but is actually insulting it. Its purpose is to injure or to hurt.

satire
writing that seeks to arouse a reader’s disapproval of an object by ridicule

scansion
a system for describing the meter of a poem by identifying the number and the type(s) of feet per line

sestet
a six-line stanza

simile
a directly expressed comparison; a figure of speech comparing two objects, usually with “like,” “as,” or “than.”

sonnet
normally a fourtenn-line iambic pentameter poem

stanza
usually a repeated grouping of three or more lines with the same meter and rhyme scheme

rhetorical strategy
the management of language for a specific effect

structure
the arrangement of materials within a work; the relationships of the parts of a work to the whole; the logical divisions of a work

style
the mode of expression in language; the characteristic manner of expressions of an author

symbol
something that is simultaneously itself and a sign of something else

synecdoche
a form of metaphor which in mentioning a part signifies the whole

syntax
the order of and arrangement of words in a sentence; a sentence’s grammatical structure, length, and type.

tercet
a stanza of three lines in which each line ends with the same rhyme

terza rhyme
a three-line stanza rhymes aba, bcb, cdc, etc.

theme
the main though expressed by a work

tone
the manner in which an author expressed his or her attitude

understatement
the opposite of hyperbole; represents something less than it really is

villanelle
a nineteen-line poem divided into five tercets and a final quatrain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *