Literary Elements Poetry

figurative language
language that uses figures of speech—not to be taken literally

comparison of two unlike things, suggesting one is another (“The world is your oyster.” That was Shakespeare’s way of saying that all the riches of the world are yours for the taking, like plucking a pearl from an oyster shell.)

comparison using like, as, or than (“Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart;/Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea” -William Wordsworth // She screamed louder than a siren on a police car.)

something that stands for something beyond itself (the object is concrete but the meaning is abstract) (Heart = Love)

descriptive language used to recreate sensory experiences—words which “paint a picture”

human qualities given to things that are not human (The sun greeted me this morning. “And like the flowers beside them chill and shiver, Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone” – Robert Frost)

a deliberate and extreme exaggeration for effect (It is one million degrees in here today. That sandwich was a mile high.)

repetition of initial sounds in a line of poetry (“For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky” – from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

repetition of vowel sounds in a line of poetry (“Since my old friend is grown so great…”)

repetition of consonant sounds throughout a line of poetry. Note: Unlike alliteration, in consonance the repeating letters occur in the middle and at the end of the words. (Mammals named Sam are clammy.)

words which imitate sounds (buzz, splat, hiss, crunch, boom)

the pattern of beats or stresses in spoken or written language

the repetition of sounds at the ends of words (may be end rhyme or internal rhyme; may be exact or slant) Note: “feminine rhyme” occurs in a final unstressed syllable (pleasure/leisure)

the rhythmical pattern of a poem

regularly repeated line or group of lines in a poem or song

a group of lines in a poem, considered a unit

the poet’s attitude toward a subject—conveyed through rhythms, sounds, diction (i.e., scared, anxious, sarcastic, excited, worried, smart, etc.)

the opposite of what is meant (“Ironic” by Alanis Morrissette)

ironical understatement in which affirmative is expressed by the negation of the opposite (“They aren’t the happiest couple around.” “He was not unfamiliar with the works of Dickens.” “He is not unlike his dad.” “It’s not bad at all.”)

the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part (‘We have always remained loyal to the crown.” crown = the king or the ruler of their country. // “The pen is mightier than the sword.” pen = the written word sword = military force)

a part is used to represent the whole (i.e., ABCs for alphabet) or the whole for a part (i.e., “England won the World Cup in 1966.” England = English team).

Unstressed syllable : Stressed Syllable

Stressed syllable : Unstressed Syllable

Two stressed syllables

Two unstressed syllable : One stressed syllable

Opposite of anapest, one stressed syllable : two unstressed syllables