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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'D'

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


Poetry Terminology by Letter


Dactyl

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An element of meter in poetry. In quantitative verse, such as Greek or Latin, a dactyl is a long syllable followed by two short syllables. In accentual verse, such as English, it is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables.


Dactyl (poetry)

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Definition

An element of meter in poetry. In quantitative verse, such as Greek or Latin, a dactyl is a long syllable followed by two short syllables. In accentual verse, such as English, it is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables.


Dactylic Hexameter

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Meter used in Greek epic poetry. Homer wrote the Odyssey and the Iliad in unrhymed dactylic hexameters. See meter. A more recent example is Evangeline by Longfellow.


Dactylic Meter

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A front stressed meter comprised of three syllables per foot. See meter. 


Dada Poetry

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Poetry which attempts to deny sense and reason. Dada comes from the French for 'hobby-horse' - a word originally selected at random from the dictionary. Dada was the forerunner of surrealist poetry.


Dead Metaphor

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A metaphor which has lost its meaning due to overuse e.g. 'to beat about the bush' or 'one fell swoop'. See metaphor.


Decasyllabic Line

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A line with ten syllables e.g. iambic pentameter. See meter.


Deconstruction

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Form of literary criticism developed by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida which stated that literary texts (including poems) have no fixed or definitive meaning but, instead, are full of contradictions and inconsistencies and are open to a variety of interpretations.


Decorum

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The appropriate adherence to traditional poetic form and content.


Denotation

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Denotation
The dictionary meaning of a word. Writers typically play off a word's denotative meaning against its connotations, or suggested and implied associational implications.


Descriptive  Verse

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Verse which paints a picture e.g. the first 3 stanzas of Thomas Hardy's early poem Domicilium - which describes the cottage at Higher Bockhampton where he was born.


Dialect Verse

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Verse which employs national or regional dialects e.g. Robert Burns (Scottish), William Barnes (Dorset), Tennyson (Lincolnshire - see Northern Farmer) or my own poems (Norfolk - see New Norfolk Anals).


Diamante

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Definition

The purpose is to go from the subject at the top of the diamond to another totally different (and sometimes opposite) subject at the bottom. A seven line poem, shaped like a diamond.


Diction

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A writer’s choice of words, particularly for clarity, effectiveness, and precision. A writer’s diction can be formal or informal, abstract or concrete.


Didactic

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A form of verse, the aim of which is to instruct the mind and improve morals. It essentially lays out a body of detailed information for the reader with the aim of molding the reader into a certain ethical or religious frame of mind.


Dimeter

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A dimeter is a metrical line of verse with two feet.


Diminished Hexaverse

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A poem containing stanzas of 5 lines, then 4 lines, then 3 lines, then 2 lines, ending with one word. The syllables in each stanza correspond to the number of lines, i.e. 5 in each line in the first stanza, 4 in the second stanza and so on. This form may contain more than five stanzas.


Dipody

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Greek measure consisting of two metrical feet, which are taken as a single unit.


Dirge

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Poem of lamentation. See elegy.


Dispondee

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Two spondees combined into a single unit.


Dissociation of

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Term invented by T.S. Eliot to describe (what he saw as) the split between thought and feeling which occurred in English poetry after the metaphysical poets.


Dissonance

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Definition

Dissonance in poetry is the deliberate avoidance of assonance, i.e. patterns of repeated vowel sounds.


Distich

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A two line Greek stanza. The distich is particularly associated with Greek elegiac verse and consists of one line of dactylic hexameter and one line  of dactylic pentameter.


Distributed Stress

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When uncertainly occurs regarding which of two consecutive syllables is stressed. This is sometimes called hovering accent.


Disyllables

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Disyllables have two syllables in a foot.


Dithyramb

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Greek lyric poem (possibly invented by Arion) sung in honour of the God Bacchus. Alexander's Feast by John Dryden is a more recent example.


Dizain

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Ten lines rhymed a b a b b c c d c d; usually (though not by definition) iambic pentameter. This is a Dizain chain. This is originally a French form and initially would have been made up of eight syllablelines, but later ten syllable lines were also used. The few examples of this form in England did prefer Iambic Pentameter, but that's purely up to the poet. The rhyme scheme is: a. b. a. b. b. c. c. d. c. d.


Dodoitsu

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Definition

The Dodoitsu is a fixed folk song form of Japanese origin and is often about love or humor. It has 26 syllables made of of four lines of 7, 7, 7, 5 syllables respectively. It is unrhymed and non-metrical.


Doggerel

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Definition

Poor quality poetry. The Scottish poet William McGonagall is famous for his doggerel and enjoys the dubious distinction of being regarded as the world's worst poet.


Double Consonance

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See pararhyme.


Double Dactyl

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Definition

A verse form, also known as "higgledy piggledy," invented by Anthony Hecht and Paul Pascal. Like a limerick, it has a rigid structure and is usually humorous, but the double dactyl is considerably more rigid and difficult to write. There must be two stanzas, each comprising three lines of dactylic dimeter followed by a line with a dactyl and a single accent. The two stanzas have to rhyme on their last line. The first line of the first stanza is repetitive nonsense. The second line of the first stanza is the subject of the poem, a proper noun (usually someone's name). Note that this name must itself be double-dactylic. There is also a requirement for at least one line of the second stanza to be entirely one double dactyl word, for example "va-le-dic-tor-i-an".


Double Rhymes

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Double or disyllabic rhymes occur when the final two syllables of different words chime together - as in 'spender' and 'slender'.


Dramatic monologue

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A type of long lyric poem, developed during the Victorian period, in which a character in fiction or in history delivers a lengthy speech explaining his or her feelings, actions, or motives.


Dramatic Verse

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Any drama written as verse to be spoken; another possible general term is poetic drama.


Dramatic Verse (Verse Drama)

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Any drama written as verse to be spoken; another possible general term is poetic drama.


Duple Meter

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See monometer.


Dymock Poets

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Definition

Group of poets including Robert Frost, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Gibson, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater and Lascelles Abercrombie. They gathered together in the Gloucestershire village of Dymock to write and discuss poetry in the years immediately preceding the 1st World War.