Poetry Terms -
d. This is a comprehensive resource of poetry terms beginning with the letter
Discuss this Term
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.
An example of dactylic meter is the first line of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline, which is in dactylic hexameter:
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.
A front stressed meter comprised of three syllables per foot. See meter.
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.
A metaphor which has lost its meaning due to overuse e.g. 'to beat about the bush' or 'one fell swoop'. See metaphor.
A line with ten syllables e.g. iambic pentameter. See meter.
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.
The appropriate adherence to traditional poetic form and content.
The dictionary meaning of a word. Writers typically play off a word's denotative meaning against its connotations, or suggested and implied associational implications.
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:
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.
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).
A writer’s choice of words, particularly for clarity, effectiveness, and precision. A writer’s diction can be formal or informal, abstract or concrete.
A dimeter is a metrical line of verse with two feet.
Consider Thomas Hood's "Bridge of Sighs:"
Greek measure consisting of two metrical feet, which are taken as a single unit.
Poem of lamentation. See elegy.
Two spondees combined into a single unit.
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 in poetry is the deliberate avoidance of assonance, i.e. patterns of repeated vowel sounds.
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.
When uncertainly occurs regarding which of two consecutive syllables is stressed. This is sometimes called hovering accent.
Disyllables have two syllables in a foot.
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.
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 or disyllabic rhymes occur when the final two syllables of different words chime together - as in 'spender' and 'slender'.
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.