Poetry Definition

Allegory
Form of narrative in which people, places and happenings have hidden or symbolic meaning; related to symbolism

Oxymoron
A condensed form of paradox in which two contradictory words are used together
Ex: He is a wise fool.
The silence was thunderous.
You have to be cruel to be kind.

Symbol
Something (an object, situation, or action) means more than what it is.
Ex: The lion is a symbol of courage.
Water symbolizes life.
The dove is a symbol for peace.

Paradox
a statement that initially appears to be self-contradictory but that, on closer inspection, turns out to make sense
Ex: Some people talk a lot but don’t say much.
The coach considered the defeat a good loss.
If you want peace, you must prepare for war.

Onomatopoeia
the use of a word that resembles the sound it denotes
Ex: Keeping time, time, time
In sort of Runic Rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells.

Consonance
a resemblance in sound between two words
Ex: selfish shellfish

Assonance
the repetition of identical vowel sounds in a group of words close together
Ex: Asleep under a tree.
Time and tide.
Haunt and awesome.

Synedoche
type of metaphor in which a part of something stands for the whole
Ex: Give me a hand.
Lend me your ears.
Many mouths to feed.

Metonomy
the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant
Ex: suit for business executive, or the track for horse racing.

Alliteration
the repetition of similar sounds, usually consonants or consonant clusters, in a group of words
Ex: How much dew could a dewdrop drop if a dewdrop did drop dew?
Horrendous horrors haunted Helen’s happiness.

Metaphor
a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, without using the word like or as
Ex: My daughter is an angel.
The man is a busy bee.
Life is a hard road.

Simile
a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two things by using words such as like, as, than, appears, and seems
Ex: The ball was thrown like a bullet.

Carpe Diem
poetry that emphasizes the shortness of life and the need to act in or enjoy the present; Latin for “seize the day”

Rhyme
the repetition of identical or similar concluding syllables in different words, most often at the end of lines
Ex: It runs through the reeds
And away it proceeds,
Though meadow and glade,
In sun and in shade.

Didactic Poetry
designed to teach an ethical, moral or religious lesson

Parody
a humorous, mocking imitation of another work

Ballad
a narrative poem that was originally intended to be sung; depicts tragic events, adventures of love and bravery; consists of four-line stanzas with second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyming

Free Verse (Open Form)
poetry that follows no pattern

Protest Poetry
expresses disapproval or dissent, often about a government action or policy that the average person is powerless to avoid or prevent

Hyperbole
a boldly exaggerated statement that adds emphasis without intending to be literally true
Ex: I’ve told you a million times.
I’ll die if I miss that game.
I’ll love you ’til the oceans go dry.

Acrostic
a poem in which the first letters of each line have a meaning when read downward

Syntax
the way that words are put together to form phrases, clauses, or sentences
Ex: By most by number judge a poet’s song,
And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong

Anaphora
organizing lines or sentences by repeating the same word or phrase at the beginning of each line

Imagery
a word or group of words that refers to a sensory experience or to an object that can be known by one or more of the senses

Personification
human attributes are given to an animal, an objext, and abstract term, or a concept
Ex: The wind stood up and gave a shout.
The waves beside them danced.

Apostrophe
a person who is absent is directly addressed as if she or he were present
Ex: Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour!
O Rose, thou art sick!

Diction
A poet

(Italian) Sonnet
Fourteen lines in length, almost always iambic pentameter. This form is divided usually between 8 lines called the octave, using two or three rhymes arranged abbaabba, and six lines called the sestet, using any arrangement of either two or three rhymes, cdccdc, cdecde are common patterns

(English) Sonnet
Composed of three quatrains and a concluding couplet, rhyming ababcdcdefefgg

Visual
poems that draw much of their power from the appearance of the poem as a shape

Explication
a method entailing close analysis of a poem, opening it up line by line, clarifying how diction, images, figurative languages, symbols, sounds, rhythm and for contribute toward shaping the work’s meaning and effect

Clerihew
A whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley; lines irregular in length, lines aabb

End-Stopped Line
When a line of poetry hasa pause at its end
Ex: As killing as the canker to the Rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling Herds that graze,
Or Frost to Flowers, that gay wardrobe wear

Villanelle
a fixed form consisting of nineteen lines of any length divided into six stanzas: five tercets and a concluding quatrain

Pastoral
a poem that romanticizes rural life or appraises the natural world

Epigram
a short, pithy saying, usually in verse, often with a quick, satirical twist at the end
Ex: What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole,
Its body brevity, and wit its soul.
Little strokes
Fell great oaks.

Haiku
a three-line poem, Japanese in origin, narrowly conceived of as a fixed form in which the lines contain respectively 5, 7, and 5 syllables
Ex: The stars are shining,
bright as the morning sunlight.
Oh, how I love stars.

Enjambment
the running-over of a sentence or phrase from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation; the opposite of end-stopped
Ex: Of man’s first disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe.