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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'E'

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


Poetry Terminology by Letter


Eclogue

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Short pastoral poem originally written by Virgil who was imitating the idylls of Theocritus. Eclogues may also express religious or ethical themes. A modern example of the form is Eclogue from Iceland by Louis MacNeice. The eclogue is sometimes known as the bucolic.

ECLOGUE, a short pastoral dialogue in verse. The word is conjectured to be derived from the Greek verb ?κλ?γειν, to choose. An eclogue, perhaps, in its primary signification was a selected piece. Another more fantastic derivation traces it to α?ξ, goat, and λ?γος, speech, and makes it a conversation of shepherds. The idea of dialogue, however, is not necessary for an eclogue, which is often not to be distinguished from the idyll. The grammarians, in giving this title to Virgil’s pastoral conversations (Bucolica), tended to make the term “eclogue” apply exclusively to dialogue, and this has in fact been the result of the success of Virgil’s work. Latin eclogues were also written by Calpurnius Siculus and by Nemesianus. In modern literature the term has lost any distinctive character which it may have possessed among the Romans; it is merged in the general notion of pastoral poetry. The French “Églogues” of J.R. de Segrais (1624-1701) were long famous, and those of the Spanish poet Garcilasso de La Vega (1503-1536) are still admired.


Eglantine

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EGLANTINE (E. Frisian, egeltiere; Fr. aiglantier), a plant-name of which Dr R. C. A. Prior (Popular Names of British Plants, p. 70) says that it “has been the subject of much discussion, both as to its exact meaning and as to the shrub to which it properly belongs.” The eglantine of the herbalists was the sweet-brier, Rosa rubiginosa. The signification of the word seems to be thorn-tree or thorn-bush, the first two syllables probably representing the Anglo-Saxon eglaegle, a prick or thorn, while the termination is the Dutch teretaere, a tree. Eglantine is frequently alluded to in the writings of English poets, from Chaucer downwards. Milton, in L‘Allegro, is thought by the term “twisted eglantine” to denote the honeysuckle,Lonicera Periclymenum, which is still known as eglantine in north-east Yorkshire.


Egotistical Sublime

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Term coined by John Keats to describe (what he saw as) Wordsworth's self-aggrandising style.


Eisteddfod

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Welsh bardic festival where poets and musicians competed for prizes. See Welsh forms.


Ekphrasis

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Ekphrasis, alternately spelled ecphrasis, is a term used to denote poetry or poetic writing concerning itself with the visual arts, artistic objects, and/or highly visual scenes. This style of writing is characteristic in such works as Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and Shelley's "On the Medusa of Leonardo da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery."


Ekphrasis (Ecphrasis)

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Ekphrasis, alternately spelled ecphrasis, is a term used to denote poetry or poetic writing concerning itself with the visual arts, artistic objects, and/or highly visual scenes. This style of writing is characteristic in such works as Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and Shelley's "On the Medusa of Leonardo da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery."


Elegaic Lyric

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A lyric poem that expresses a speaker's feelings of loss, often because of the death of a loved one.


Elegiac Stanza

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A quatrain written in iambic pentameters and rhyming a-b-a-b.


Elegiacs

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Classical Greek verse form composed of alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and dactylic pentameter. See also distich.


Elegy

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A poem of mourning, or, a sad and thoughtful poem about the death of an individual.


Elision

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The suppression of a vowel or syllable for metrical purposes. E.g. 'The sedge has wither'd from the lake' from La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Keats. The elision, in this case, ensures that the line remains octosyllabic. Modern poets no longer use elision. See also synalepha.


Elizabethan Poets

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Group of poets including Shakespeare, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson who were writing during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603).


Ellipsis

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Refers to any omitted part of speech that is understood; i.e. the omission is intentional. Analogously, in printing and writing, the term refers to the row of three dots (...) or asterisks (* * *) indicating such an intentional omission.


Emotive Language

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Language which is charged with emotion e.g. love, hate, fear etc. Sometimes associated with inferior poetry - especially that produced by angst-ridden teenagers.


Enclosed Rhyme

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The rhyme scheme "abba" (that is, where the first and fourth lines, and the second and third lines rhyme).


Encomiastic Verse

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Poems written to praise or glorify people, objects or abstract ideas e.g. Wordsworth's Ode to Duty.


End Rhyme

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A rhyme that occurs at the ends of lines.


End Stopped Line

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A line of verse which ends with a grammatical break such as a coma, colon, semi-colon or full stop etc. Compare this with enjambment - see below.


Englyn

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Englyn (plural englynion) is a traditional Welsh and Cornish short poem form. It uses quantitative metres, involving the counting of syllables, and rigid patterns of rhyme and half rhyme. Each line contains a repeating pattern of consonants and accent known as cynghanedd. There are eight types of englynion.


Enjambment

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Enjambment (also spelled "enjambement") is the breaking of a syntactic unit (a phrase, clause, or sentence) by the end of a line or between two verses. Its opposite is end-stopping, where each linguistic unit corresponds with a single line. The term is directly borrowed from the French enjambement, meaning "straddling" or "bestriding".


Envoi

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A short stanza at the end of a poem used either to address an imagined or actual person or to comment on the preceding body of the poem.


Epic

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An extensive, serious poem that tells the story about a heroic figure. A broadly defined genre of poetry, and one of the major forms of narrative literature. It retells in a continuous narrative the life and works of a heroic or mythological person or group of persons.


Epic Simile

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Extended or elaborate simile; sometimes known as the Homeric simile. See simile.


Epigram

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A very short, ironic and witty poem usually written as a brief couplet or quatrain. The term is derived from the Greek epigramma meaning inscription.


Epilogue

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The concluding section of a poem or literary work e.g. Epilogue to Asolando by Robert Browning. See also prologue.


Episode

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EPISODE, an incident occurring in the history of a nation, an institution or an individual, especially with the significance of being an interruption of an ordered course of events, an irrelevance. The word is derived from a word (?πε?σοδος) with a technical meaning in the ancient Greek tragedy. It is defined by Aristotle (Poetics, 12) as μ?ρος ?λον τραγ?δ?ας τ? μεταξ? ?λων χορικ?ν μελ?ν, all the scenes, that is, which fall between the choric songs. ε?σοδος, or entrance, is generally applied to the entrance of the chorus, but the reference may be to that of the actors at the close of the choric songs. In the early Greek tragedy the parts which were spoken by the actors were considered of subsidiary importance to those sung by the chorus, and it is from this aspect that the meaning of the word, as something which breaks off the course of events, is derived.


Epistle

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Poem written in the form of a letter e.g. Epistle To Dr Arbuthnot by Pope.


Epitaph

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A commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument written to praise the deceased.


Epithalamium

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A poem written in honor of the bride and groom.

EPITHALAMIUM (Gr. ?π?, at or upon, and θ?λαμος, a nuptial chamber), originally among the Greeks a song in praise of bride and bridegroom, which was sung by a number of boys and girls at the door of the nuptial chamber. According to the scholiast on Theocritus, one form, the κατακοιμητικ?ν, was employed at night, and another, the διεγερτικ?ν, to arouse the bride and bridegroom on the following morning. In either case, as was natural, the main burden of the song consisted of invocations of blessing and predictions of happiness, interrupted from time to time by the ancient chorus of Hymen hymenaee. Among the Romans a similar custom was in vogue, but the song was sung by girls only, after the marriage guests had gone, and it contained much more of what modern morality would condemn as obscene. In the hands of the poets the epithalamium was developed into a special literary form, and received considerable cultivation. Sappho, Anacreon, Stesichorus and Pindar are all regarded as masters of the species, but the finest example preserved in Greek literature is the 18th Idyll of Theocritus, which celebrates the marriage of Menelaus and Helen. In Latin, the epithalamium, imitated from Fescennine Greek models, was a base form of literature, when Catullus redeemed it and gave it dignity by modelling his Marriage of Thetis and Peleus on a lost ode of Sappho. In later times Statius, Ausonius, Sidonius Apollinaris and Claudian are the authors of the best-known epithalamia in classical Latin; and they have been imitated by Buchanan, Scaliger, Sannazaro, and a whole host of modern Latin poets, with whom, indeed, the form was at one time in great favour. The names of Ronsard, Malherbe and Scarron are especially associated with the species in French literature, and Marini and Metastasio in Italian. Perhaps no poem of this class has been more universally admired than the Epithalamium of Spenser (1595), though he has found no unworthy rivals in Ben Jonson, Donne and Quarles. At the close of In Memoriam Tennyson has appended a poem, on the nuptials of his sister, which is strictly an epithalamium.


Epithet

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Adjective expressing quality or attribute. Homer frequently linked adjectives and nouns to create epithets e.g. 'swift-footed Achilles' or 'rosy-fingered dawn'.


Epitrite

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Greek metrical foot containing one short/unstressed syllable and three long/stressed syllables. Variations include: first, second, third or fourth epitrites, depending on the position of the unstressed syllable.


Epode

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The third stanza of a Pindaric ode.

EPODE, in verse, the third part in an ode, which followed the strophe and the antistrophe, and completed the movement; it was called ?π?δ?ς περ?οδος by the Greeks. At a certain moment the choirs, which had chanted to right of the altar or stage and then to left of it, combined and sang in unison, or permitted the coryphaeus to sing for them all, standing in the centre. When, with the appearance of Stesichorus and the evolution of choral lyric, a learned and artificial kind of poetry began to be cultivated in Greece, a new form, the ε?δος ?π?δικ?ν, or epode-song, came into existence. It consisted of a verse of trimeter iambic, followed by a dimeter iambic, and it is reported that, although the epode was carried to its highest perfection by Stesichorus, an earlier poet, Archilochus, was really the inventor of this form. The epode soon took a firm place in choral poetry, which it lost when that branch of literature declined. But it extended beyond the ode, and in the early dramatists we find numerous examples of monologues and dialogues framed on the epodical system. In Latin poetry the epode was cultivated, in conscious archaism, both as a part of the ode and as an independent branch of poetry. Of the former class, the epithalamia of Catullus, founded on an imitation of Pindar, present us with examples of strophe, antistrophe and epode; and it has been observed that the celebrated ode of Horace, beginning Quem virum aut heroa lyra vel acri, possesses this triple character. But the word is now mainly familiar from an experiment of Horace in the second class, for he entitled his fifth book of odesEpodon liber or the Book of Epodes. He says in the course of these poems, that in composing them he was introducing a new form, at least in Latin literature, and that he was imitating the effect of the iambic distichs invented by Archilochus. Accordingly we find the first ten of these epodes 708composed in alternate verses of iambic trimeter and iambic dimeter, thus:—

“At o Deorum quicquid in coelo regit

Terras et humanum genus.”

In the seven remaining epodes Horace has diversified the measures, while retaining the general character of the distich. This group of poems belongs in the main to the early youth of the poet, and displays a truculence and a controversial heat which are absent from his more mature writings. As he was imitating Archilochus in form, he believed himself justified, no doubt, in repeating the sarcastic violence of his fierce model. The curious thing is that these particular poems of Horace, which are really short lyrical satires, have appropriated almost exclusively the name of epodes, although they bear little enough resemblance to the genuine epode of early Greek literature.


Epopee

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Epopee, ep'o-pe, Epopœia, ep-o-pe'ya, n. epic poetry: an epic poem. [Formed from Gr. epopoiia—epos, a word, an epic poem, poiein, to make.]


Epos

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Epos, ep'os, n. the elementary stage of epic poetry: an epic poem: a series of events such as are treated in epic poetry. [L.,—Gr. epos, a word.]


Epulaeryu

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The “Epulaeryu” poem is about delicious food. It consists of seven lines with thirty-three (33) syllables. The first line has seven syllables, the second line five, the third line seven, the fourth line five, the fifth line five, the sixth line three, and the seventh line has only one syllable which ends with an exclamation mark. Each line has one thought relating to the main course. Therefore, this new poetic form, the Epulaeryu, which has corresponding lines built around the main course, and ending with an exclamation point, concludes with the ending line expressing the writer’s excitement and feelings about the poem.


Epyllion

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A brief narrative poem with a romantic or mythological theme.


Equivalence

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In quantitative verse, the rule that two short syllables equal one long syllable. See mora.


Erato

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Erato, er'a-to, n. the Muse of lyric poetry.


Erotic Poetry

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Explicit poetry dealing with sex or sexual love e.g. the work of Sappho or Anacreon, Venus and Adonis by Shakespeare or Rossetti's collection The House of Life. Love poetry, by contrast, deals with the more spiritual side of love.


Etheree

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Created about twenty years ago by an Arkansas poet named Etheree Taylor Armstrong, this titled form, the Etheree, consists of ten lines of unmetered and unrhymed verse, the first line having one syllable, each succeeding line adding a syllable, with the total syllable count being fifty-five.


Ethos

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One of the three modes of persuasion in rhetoric (along with Pathos and logos). Ethos is appeal based on the character of the speaker. An ethos-driven poem relies on the reputation of the author.


Euphony

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Harmony or beauty of sound which provides a pleasing effect to the ear, usually sought-for in poetry for effect. It is achieved not only by the selection of individual word-sounds, but also by their arrangement in the repetition, proximity, and flow of sound patterns. The consonants considered most pleasing in sound are l, m, n, r, v, and w. The harsher consonants in euphonious texts become less jarring when in the proximity of softer sounds. Vowel sounds are generally more euphonious than the consonants, so a line with a higher ratio of vowel sounds will produce a more agreeable effect; also, the long vowels in words are more melodious than the short vowels.


Explication

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A close study of a poem to understand how poetic devices contribute to meaning and effect.


Extempore

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An improvised poem e.g. Extempore Effusion upon the Death of James Hogg by Wordsworth. See also impromptu.


Eye Rhyme

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A similarity in spelling between words that are pronounced differently and hence, not an auditory rhyme.