Poetry Terms: Basic Building Blocks

Meter
the number of feet in a line-like a beat in music

Common meter
4 rhyming lines of iambic tetrameter: abcb or abab (Amazing Grace, O Little Town of Bethlehem)

Tetrameter
4 beats

Hexameter
6 beats

Heptameter
7 beats

Octameter
8 beats

Iambic pentameter
10 syllables 5 beats alternating unstressed/stressed

Stanza
poetry’s answer to a paragraph

Quatrain
4 line stanza

Tercet
3 line stanza

Couplet
2 line stanza

Heroic couplet
2 line couplet with rhyming iambic pentameter

Rime scheme
reoccurring patterns of rhyme: ababa cdcd ee

Blank verse
unrhymed iambic pentameter (How Wild Bill Shakes writes)

Free verse
no rhyme

Anapest
an a PEST; unstressed unstressed STRESSED (pushes the power)

Dactylic
DAC tyl ic; STRESSED unstressed unstressed (draws the power away)

Caesura
a pause within a line of verse-may or may not have punctuation (ex: comma)

Enjambment
a continuation of a sentence over a line break (running into the next line)

Consonance
slant rhyme (monk mink, raison reason)

Assonance
repitition of vowel sounds (wh*i*te l*i*lac, *a*ll *a*wful)