Poetry Terms -
M. This is a comprehensive resource of poetry terms beginning with the letter
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Verse which jumbles together lines or phrases written in different languages (Originally this would have included some Latin.) John Skelton, the English renaissance poet, wrote a number of poems in this style.
In prosody, a macron is the mark placed over a syllable in a line of verse to show that it is stressed. It is denoted by the following symbol (?). See also breve and meter.
Composite nick-name (devised by Roy Campbell) for Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender, W.H.Auden and C. Day-Lewis. See also Pylon Poets.
A short love poem which can easily be set to music.
An artist or poet's 'great work' e.g. Milton's Paradise Lost.
Archaic term for poet. In February 2004 Edwin Morgan was appointed as 'the Scots Maker' - a position similar to that of the English poet laureate.
Theory devised by John Keats stating that people are capable of different levels of thought. He suggested that some have the ability to move through the 'thoughtless chamber' and the 'chamber of maiden thought' to reach more profound states.
Term used to describe the work of poets such as Craig Raine and Christopher Reid. It originated from Raine's 1979 collection A Martian Sends a Postcard Home. Martian poetry frequently describes everyday objects from unusual angles by using inventive metaphor and simile. For example, in Raine's poem A Walk in the Country a sewage farm is described as being 'like a tape-recorder, whose black spools turn night and day'.
Certain 14th-16th century German lyric poets who organised themselves in guilds and composed elaborate verse. They were influenced by the minnesingers.
Greek poetry written to be sung. The term derives from the Greek word 'melos' meaning 'song'.
Poundian term to describe the kind of poem which induces 'emotional correlations by the sound and rhythm of the speech'. He stated that the maximum amount of melopoeia is to be found in poems that are written to be sung, chanted or read aloud. See also logopoeia and phanopoeia.
Tavern frequented by John Donne, Francis Beaumont, Ben Jonson and possibly William Shakespeare. It stood in Bread St. London and was the location for literary meetings. Keats wrote about it in Lines on the Mermaid Tavern.
A word or phrase used to have a completely different meaning.
Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" being a constant reminder of his loss and not truly a raven.
A metaphorical comparison that is stretched throughout large portions or an entire poem.
A term originally coined by Samuel Johnson in his Life of Cowley to criticise a group of poets including: John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Traherne, Andrew Marvell and Abraham Cowley etc. whose poetry he regarded as being over intellectualised. The term is somewhat misleading as it pigeon holes a number of poets who, in reality, had little in common.
The measured arrangement of words in poetry, as by accentual rhythm, syllabic quantity, or the number of syllables in a line. The definitive pattern established for a verse (such as iambic pentameter).
The substitution of one word for another with which it is associated.
"The Crown" for the British monarchy.
"The press" for the news media.
"A dish" for an entrée.
"The Pentagon", a building, to refer to the organization that occupies it, the U.S. Department of Defense.
"The White House" for the President of the United States and his administration, by the same token as above.
A metrical romance recounts the quest undertaken by a single knight in order to gain a lady’s favor. Frequently, its central interest is courtly love, together with tournaments fought and dragons and monsters slain for the damsel’s sake. It stresses the chivalric ideals of courage, loyalty, honor, mercifulness to an opponent, and exquisite and manners; and it delights in wonders and marvels.
A metrical tale is a simple, straightforward story in verse.
The written and spoken language of England from the beginning of the 12th Century to approx. 1500. The most important writer of the period being Chaucer.
In the style of John Milton.
The imitation of reality in art/poetry.
German lyric poets who were writing between the 12th and 14th centuries. Their main subject was 'love' (Minne) - hence their name. They were influenced by the French troubadour poets. See also meistersinger.
Itinerant medieval musician/singer/story teller/poet. See bard and jongleur.
Figure of speech which combines two or more inconsistent metaphors e.g. 'We're not through the woods by a long chalk.' Or more famously the fourth line from Hamlet's soliloquy: 'Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.' See metaphor.
Type of satirical verse which deals with trivial matters in the style of epic or heroic verse. The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope is an example of mock-heroic verse. Pope's poem was inspired by Lord Petre's cutting of a lock of Miss Arabella Fermor's hair without her permission.
The written and spoken language of England from approx. 1500 to the present day.
Literary movement that occurred from c.1890 until the beginning of World War II and sought to challenge traditional forms.
Classical metrical foot containing three long or stressed syllables.
A Greek ode sung by a single actor and lamenting a person's death. A modern example is Monody on the Death of a Platonist Bank Clerk by John Betjeman.
A line consisting of one metrical foot. Monometers are very rare. However an example of a (predominantly) iambic monometer is Upon His Departure Hence by Robert Herrick.
(or monosyllabic) - words with one syllable
A unit of measure in quantitative verse; namely the time taken up by a short syllable. A long syllable is equal to two morae.
Term coined by J. D. Scott, editor of the Spectator, to describe a group of poets including Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, D. J. Enright, John Wain and Robert Conquest. Movement poetry tends to be witty, sardonic, anti-poetic and eschewed the use of classical allusions. See also the New Apocalypse.
The nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who inspired artists and musicians. Four of the daughters: Calliope, Euterpe, Erato and Polyhymnia were specifically responsible for inspiring poets.