Submit Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

Poetry Terms Beginning With 'A'

Poetry Terms - A. This is a comprehensive resource of poetry terms beginning with the letter A.


Poetry Terminology by Letter


ABC

Discuss this Term

Definition

See note below: Poetry in which every word begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. The first word begins with A, the second with B, etc. (OR) A poem that has 5 lines that create a mood, picture, or feeling. Lines 1 through 4 are made up of words, phrases or clauses - and the first word of each line is in alphabetical order from the first word. Line 5 is one sentence, beginning with any letter.

Note: ABC as a form has been used to describe anything from an Abecedarian poem (above), to an Acrostic poem, and other things. ABC typically has been used as a catch-all for sequential alphabet poems that may not necessarily use the entire alphabet like an Abecedarian poem. So, in reality, "ABC" is just an acrostic poem using successive letters of the alphabet per line or stanza.


Abcedarius

Discuss this Term

Definition

(Or Abecedarian) Type of acrostic where each line or verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet until the end of the alphabet is reached. Sometimes known as an alphabet poem.


Abecedarian

Discuss this Term

Definition

(Or ABCEDARIUS) Type of acrostic where each line or verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet (a, b, c, d...and so forth) until the end of the alphabet is reached, thus using the whole alphabet. Sometimes known as an alphabet poem.


Abecedarian Poem

Discuss this Term

Definition

Type of acrostic where each line or verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet; sometimes known as an alphabet poem.


Acatalectic

Discuss this Term

Definition

A complete metrical line - as opposed to a catalectic or truncated line.


Accent

Discuss this Term

Definition

The stressed portion of a word. This can change the feeling of the poetry.


Accentual Verse

Discuss this Term

Definition

Accentual verse has a fixed number of stresses per line or stanza regardless of the number of syllables that are present. It is common in languages that are stress-timed such as English as opposed to syllabic verse, which is common in syllable-timed languages such as classical Latin. Nursery Rhymes are the most common form of Accentual verse in the English Language.


Acrostic

Discuss this Term

Definition

A poem, usually in verse, in which the first or the last letters of the lines, or certain other letters, taken in order, form a name, word, phrase, or motto.


Adonic

Discuss this Term

Definition

Classical meter consisting of a dactyl and a spondee - as in the final line of a Sapphic.


Aesthetic Movement

Discuss this Term

Definition

1880's literary movement associated with  Walter Pater and John Ruskin who advocated that art should serve no useful purpose. The term 'art for art's sake' is synonymous with the movement.  A.C. Swinburne, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe were followers of the movement.


Afflatus

Discuss this Term

Definition

Poetic inspiration


Aide-Memoire Poem

Discuss this Term

Definition

Poem which helps the memory e.g. 'Thirty days hath September,/April, June and November'


Alcaics

Discuss this Term

Definition

Four line stanza invented by Greek poet Alcaeus and normally employing a dactylic meter. Milton by Tennyson is a more recent example.


Aleatory

Discuss this Term

Definition

Aleatory means "pertaining to luck", and derives from the Latin word alea, the rolling of dice. Aleatoric, indeterminate, or chance art is that which exploits the principle of randomness.


Alexandrine

Discuss this Term

Definition

Alexandrine poetry consists of a line of 12 syllables with major stresses on the 6th syllable and on the last syllable, and one secondary accent in each half line.  Originally a twelve syllable meter in French prosody. However, the English equivalent is the iambic hexameter - see meter. An example of alexandrine verse is Testament of Beauty by Robert Bridges.


Allegory

Discuss this Term

Definition

A poem in which the characters or descriptions convey a hidden symbolic or moral message. For example, the various knights in The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser are allegorical representations of virtues such as truth, friendship and justice.


Alliteration

Discuss this Term

Definition

Alliterations are sentences or phrases that contain words that repeat the same beginning consonant sounds. The initial sounds of a word, beginning either with a consonant or a vowel, are repeated in close succession.

A poem that repeats the same letter at the beginning of two or more words immediately succeeding each other, or at short intervals; as in the following lines: - Behemoth, biggest born of earth, upheaved His vastness. Milton. Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields. Tennyson.


Allusion

Discuss this Term

Definition

Where a poem makes reference to another poem or text. For example, the 14th line of The Prelude by William Wordsworth 'The earth was all before me' alludes to one of the final lines of Paradise Lost by John Milton 'The world was all before them'. Paradise Lost, in turn, alludes to the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis.


Ambiguity

Discuss this Term

Definition

William Empson defined ambiguity as: 'any verbal nuance, however slight, which gives room for alternative reactions to the same piece of language'. Although ambiguity is not desirable in prose, in poetry it can sometimes add extra layers of meaning. Figurative language - such as metaphors - often create ambiguity. In 1930 Empson published a critical work entitled Seven Types of Ambiguity.


Amphibrachic Meter

Discuss this Term

Definition

Classical meter consisting of three syllables per foot: one short, one long, one short. This meter is seldom used in English, however Jinny the Just by Matthew Prior is an example.


Amphimacer Meter

Discuss this Term

Definition

Another classical meter consisting of three syllables per foot, but this time: one long, one short, one long. A rare English example of this form is Tennyson's poem The Oak.


Anacreontic Verse

Discuss this Term

Definition

Verse which imitates the work of the Greek poet Anacreon who wrote lyrics in praise of wine and women. Abraham Cowley's Anacreontics are an example.


Anacrusis

Discuss this Term

Definition

In poetry, anacrusis is the lead-in syllables that precede the first full measure, while, similarly, in music, it is the note or notes (even a phrase) which precede the first downbeat in a group. In the latter sense an anacrusis is often called a pickup, pickup note, or pickup measure.


Anagram

Discuss this Term

Definition

The transposition of letters from a word or phrase to form a new word or phrase. All schoolboys know that T.S.Eliot = toilets.


Anapestic

Discuss this Term

Definition

A three syllable foot made of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable


Anaphora

Discuss this Term

Definition

The repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of several consecutive sentences or verses to emphasize an image or a concept. Also called epanaphora.


Anglo-Saxon

Discuss this Term

Definition

See Old English.


Anthropomorphism

Discuss this Term

Definition

The attribution of human feelings to animals or inanimate objects e.g. Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes. See also personification.


Antibacchic

Discuss this Term

Definition

Classical meter consisting of three syllables per foot: two long and one short.


Antiphon

Discuss this Term

Definition

Verse of a psalm or hymn which is sung or recited.


Antispast

Discuss this Term

Definition

Classical meter consisting of four syllables per foot: one short, two long, one short.


Antistrophe

Discuss this Term

Definition

The second stanza of a Pindaric ode. See ode.


Antithesis

Discuss this Term

Definition

Figure of speech where contrasting words or ideas are placed in close proximity e.g. 'Hee for God only, shee for God in him' from Milton's Paradise Lost.


Antonym

Discuss this Term

Definition

Word or phrase with the opposite meaning to another e.g. 'good' and 'bad'.


Aphesis

Discuss this Term

Definition

The loss of letters or syllables at the start of a word. Opposite of apocope.


Aphorism

Discuss this Term

Definition

Short pithy statement embodying a general truth e.g. Tennyson's 'Nature, red in tooth and claw.'


Apocope

Discuss this Term

Definition

The removal of letters or syllables at the end of a word.


Aposiopesis

Discuss this Term

Definition

Aposiopesis is the term, coined by Otto Jespersen, for the rhetorical device by which the speaker or writer deliberately stops short and leaves something unexpressed, but yet obvious, to be supplied by the imagination, giving the impression that she is unwilling or unable to continue. It often portrays being overcome with passion (fear, anger, excitement) or modesty. The ellipsis or dash is used.


Apostles, the

Discuss this Term

Definition

Intellectual society formed at Cambridge University in 1820. Members have included Alfred Tennyson, Arthur Hallam, Bertrand Russell and E.M. Forster.


Apostrophe

Discuss this Term

Definition

Poem which is directly addressed to a person or thing (often absent). An example is Wordsworth's sonnet Milton which begins: 'Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour'. NB not to be confused with an apostrophe indicating missing letters or the possessive case. Other examples of apostrophe include A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg (addressed to Walt Whitman) and my own poem Invocation.


Arcadia

Discuss this Term

Definition

Originally a mountainous area in the Peloponnese; then a symbol for idyllic rural life. Virgil's Eclogues were set in Arcadia. See also pastoral.


Archaic Diction

Discuss this Term

Definition

The use of old fashioned or outdated language (Shakespearean).


Archaism

Discuss this Term

Definition

Use of obsolete or old-fashioned language e.g. 'thee', 'thou' or 'beauteous'.


Arimaspi

Discuss this Term

Definition

ARIMASPI, an ancient people in the extreme N.E. of Scythia (q.v.), probably the eastern Altai. All accounts of them go back to a poem by Aristeas of Proconnesus, from whom Herodotus (iii. 116, iv. 27) drew his information. They were supposed to be one-eyed (hence their Scythian name), and to steal gold from the griffins that guarded it. In art they are usually represented as richly dressed Asiatics, picturesquely grouped with their griffin foes; the subject is often described by poets from Aeschylus to Milton. They are so nearly mythical that it is impossible to insist on the usual identification with the ancestors of the Huns. Their gold was probably real, as gold still comes from the Altai.


Assonance

Discuss this Term

Definition

A repetition of vowel sounds within syllables with changing consonants.


Asyndeton

Discuss this Term

Definition

Lists of words or phrases but without conjunctions. Compare with polysyndeton.


Aubade

Discuss this Term

Definition

An aubade is a type of morning love lyric poems about lovers separating at dawn. Aubades do not have a predefined form.


Augustan Poets

Discuss this Term

Definition

Group of English poets including Dryden, Pope, Addison and Swift who emulated Latin poets such as Ovid, Horace and Virgil. The Roman poets were writing during the reign of emperor Augustus (27 B.C. - 14 A.D.) - hence the term 'Augustan'. See also neo-classical.


Aureate Language

Discuss this Term

Definition

Elaborate, latinate poetic diction employed by certain 15th century English and Scottish poets, including: William Dunbar, Robert Henryson, Stephen Hawes and John Lydgate.


Awdl

Discuss this Term

Definition

Welsh poetic form equivalent to an ode. There are 12 separate awdl forms including: cyhydedd hir, cyhydedd naw ban, gwawdodyn, clogyrnach, rhupunt, tawddgyrch cadwynog, cyrch a chwta, toddaid and byr a thoddaid. The awdl was regarded as the most challenging and exalted Welsh form.