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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.

See also Forms of Poetry...



Dactyl

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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.

Example

An example of dactylic meter is the first line of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline, which is in dactylic hexameter:

This is the / forest prim- / eval. The / murmuring / pines and the / hemlocks,


Dactylic Hexameter

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Definition

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.

Example


Dactylic Meter

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Definition

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

Example


Dada Poetry

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Definition

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.

Example


Dead Metaphor

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Definition

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

Example


Decasyllabic Line

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Definition

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

Example


Deconstruction

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Definition

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.

Example


Decorum

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Definition

The appropriate adherence to traditional poetic form and content.

Example


Denotation

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Definition

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.

Example

In the following lines from Peter Meinke's "Advice to My Son" the references to flowers and fruit, bread and wine denote specific things, but also suggest something beyond the literal, dictionary meanings of the words:

To be specific, between the peony and rose
Plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;
Beauty is nectar and nectar, in a desert, saves--
...
and always serve bread with your wine.
But, son,
always serve wine.


Descriptive  Verse

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Definition

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.

Example


Dialect Verse

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Definition

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).

Example


Diction

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Definition

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

Example

N/A


Dimeter

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Definition

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

Example

Consider Thomas Hood's "Bridge of Sighs:"

Take her up \\ tenderly,
Lift her with \\ care,
Fashioned so \\ slenderly,
Young and so \\ fair.


Dipody

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Definition

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

Example


Dirge

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Definition

Poem of lamentation. See elegy.

Example


Dispondee

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Definition

Two spondees combined into a single unit.

Example


Dissociation of

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Definition

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.

Example


Dissonance

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Definition

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

Example

N/A


Distich

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Definition

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.

Example


Distributed Stress

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Definition

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

Example


Disyllables

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Definition

Disyllables have two syllables in a foot.

Example

N/A


Dithyramb

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Definition

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.

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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.

Example


Double Consonance

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Definition

See pararhyme.

Example


Double Rhymes

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Definition

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

Example


Duple Meter

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Definition

See monometer.

Example


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.

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