Essential Poetry Terms

voice
the textual features, such as diction and sentence structure, that convey a writer’s or speaker’s persona

tone
the implied attitude of a writer toward the subject and characters of a work

diction
the selection of words in a literary work

syntax
the grammatical order of words in a sentence or line of verse or dialogue

denotation
the dictionary meaning of a word

connotation
the associations called up by a word that go beyond its dictionary meaning

caesura
a break or pause (usually for sense) in the middle of a verse line

alliteration
use of the same consonant at the beginning of each stressed syllable in a line of verse

assonance
the repetition of similar vowels in the stressed syllables of successive words

onomatopoeia
using words that imitate the sound they denote

open form
A type of structure or form in poetry characterized by freedom from regularity and consistency in such elements as rhyme, line length, metrical pattern, and overall poetic structure.

symbol
an object or action in a literary work that means more than itself, that stands for something beyond itself

metaphor
a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity

personification
representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature

synecdoche
a figure of speech in which a part is substituted for the whole

metonymy
a figure of speech in which a closely related term is substituted for an object or idea

enjambment
the continuation of a syntactic unit from one line of verse into the next line without a pause

allegory
a symbolic narrative in which the surface details imply a secondary meaning

imagery
The use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person, thing, place, or experience

hyperbole
exaggeration

simile
a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with ‘like’ or ‘as’)

free verse
unrhymed verse without a consistent metrical pattern

closed form
a type of form or structure in poetry characterized by regularity and consistency in such elements as rhyme, line length, and metrical pattern

sonnet
a verse form consisting of 14 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme

speaker
the narrator of a poem

line
a group of words on one line of a poem

stanza
a group of lines arranged together

couplet
a two line stanza

rhythm
can be created by meter, rhyme, alliteration and refrain

meter
a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables

Free Verse Poetry
no repeating patterns of syllables, no rhyme, conversational, modern

end rhyme
a word at the end of one line rhymes with a word at the end of another line

internal rhyme
a word inside a line rhymes with another word on the same line

approximate rhyme
imperfect rhyme, close rhyme, near rhyme

rhyme scheme
a pattern of rhyme (usually end rhyme, but not always); this pattern is shown with letters

onomatopoeia
words that imitate the sound they name

alliteration
consonant sounds repeated at the beginnings of words

consonance
a type of alliteration in which the repeated consonant sounds are anywhere in the words

assonance
a type of alliteration in which repeated vowel sounds are in a line or lines of poetry

refrain
a sound, word, phrase or line repeated regularly in a poem

simile
a comparison of two things using like, as, than, or resembles

metaphor
a direct comparison of two unlike things

extended metaphor
a metaphor that goes several lines or possibly the entire length of the work

implied metaphor
a comparison is hinted at but not clearly stated

hyperbole
exageration often used for emphasis

litotes
understatement for effect

idiom
an expression in which the literal meaning of the words is not the meaning of the expression

personification
an object, something natural, or an animal is given life-like qualities

symbolism
a person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself also represents something else

allusion
a reference in a literary work to something famous

imagery
language that appeals to the senses

lyric poem
a short poem in first person point of view that expresses an emotion, idea, or describes a scene

ballad
a song or songlike poem that rhymes

Shakespearean Sonnet
a fourteen line poem with a specific rhyme scheme

narrative poem
a poem that tells a story

concrete poem
a poem in which the words are arranged to create a picture that relates to the content of the poem

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