Poetry Terms -
i. This is a comprehensive resource of poetry terms beginning with the letter
Discuss this Term
A foot consisting of two syllables where the first is short or unstressed and the second is long or stressed e.g. as in 'beSIDE'.
A foot consisting of two syllables where the accent lies on the second syllable
hello, avoid, the rush
Iambic tetrameter is a meter in poetry. It refers to a line consisting of four iambic feet. The word "tetrameter" simply means that there are four feet in the line; iambic tetrameter is a line comprising four iambs. The Green Lantern oath (as well as the oaths for the other corps) is written in iambic tetrameter.
Some poetic forms rely upon iambic tetrameter: triolet, Onegin stanza, Memoriam stanza, long measure (or long meter) ballad stanza.
Ap PAR..|..elled IN..|..cel EST..|..ial LIGHT,
The EARTH,..|..and EV..|..ry COM..|..mon SIGHT,
Beat or stress.
Where a poet repeats exactly the same word to create a rhyme. This is usually regarded as 'bad form' unless the repetition serves a particular purpose.
A language familiar to a group of people.
Ya'll comin' to da party tonight?
A short poem concerning shepherd life or portraying an harmonious version of rural existence. Idylls are particularly associated with the Greek poet Theocritus. See also eclogue and pastoral.
Images are representations of sensations perceived through the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Visual images are the most common e.g. William Carlos Williams' famous: 'a red wheel/barrow/glazed with rain/water'. However, images can rely on any of the senses. 'Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn' from Keats' To Autumn is an example of an auditory image.
The creation of images using words. Poets usually achieve this by invoking comparisons by means of metaphor or simile or other figures of speech. In his famous line from sonnet 18 Shakespeare creates an image by comparing his love to a 'summer's day'.
Movement of early 20th century American and English poets seeking clarity and economy of language (in a reaction against the abstraction of romanticism). Ezra Pound was one of the main pioneers of imagism but the movement also included poets such as William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Amy Lowell, T. E. Hulme and D. H. Lawrence. Imagist poems tend to be short, focussed on specific images and written in free verse. Imagism was partly inspired by Japanese verse forms such as haiku and tanka. See also modernism.
A word that is intended by the poet to fit a rhyme scheme but does not rhyme "perfectly". For example, the words yellow and willow might be used.
Poem written on the spur of the moment e.g. Impromptu on Mrs Riddell's Birthday by Robert Burns. See also extempore.
Quatrain rhyming a-b-b-a and used by Alfred Tennyson in his long elegiac poem In Memoriam. The poem was written in memory of his friend Arthur Hallam and consists of 132 separate poems - all written in iambic tetrameter.
Words/lines which are spoken or chanted in a magical fashion e,g. the witches in Macbeth: 'Fair is foul, and foul is fair'.
Term devised by G. M. Hopkins to describe the 'individually distinctive' make up of natural phenomena as perceived through the five senses. He also coined the term 'instress' to describe the force or energy which creates and sustains 'inscape'. Instress is similar in many ways to the Chinese concept of Tao. See Hopkins' sonnet as kingfishers catch fire (lines 5-8) in which he articulates something of inscape and instress.
Mysterious, unpredictable impulse which enables poets to produce the finest quality poetry. Robert Graves compared inspiration to lightening that strikes 'where and when it wills'.
To whom is the speaker speaking?
Term coined by W.K. Wimsatt and M.C. Beardsley which advises that critics should not concern themselves unduly with an author's declared intentions in respect to his/her work, but should look objectively at the finished work and decide what meaning it holds for the reading public at large.
Either where a word in the middle of a line of poetry rhymes with the word at the end of the line e.g. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe or where two words in mid sentence rhyme e.g. 'dawn-drawn' in The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Poetry published on the world wide web by individuals, or in online poetry magazines or e-zines.
Study of the way in which the text of one poem may relate to the text of another poem. This may occur through allusion or parody or the fact that one poet is influenced by the work of another poet. Intertextuality challenges the view that any one poem exists in isolation.
Where the expected stressed or unstressed syllable is switched for its opposite. Shakespeare frequently employed a trochaic inversion - i.e. by placing a trochee at the start of an iambic line.
Classical Greek meter comprising of four syllables per foot. Greater Ionic meter consists of two long/stressed syllables followed by two short/unstressed syllables, whereas Lesser Ionic meter consists of two short/unstressed syllables followed by two long/stressed syllables.
There are a number of traditional Irish syllabic verse forms including: ae freislighe, casbairdne, deibhidhe, droighneach, rannaigheacht chetharchubaid garit recomarcach, rannaigheacht mhor, rionnaird tri-nard and séadna. Like the Welsh Forms - these forms involve intricate rhyme schemes and alliteration.
Figure of speech in which the ordinary meaning of the words is more or less the opposite of what the poet intends.
In English, it is very rare for a poem to be perfectly regular. In fact, most poems written using meter will exhibit irregularities. Irregularities are permitted and can actually help to vary the overall rhythm of a poem. Shakespeare, for example, often used a trochee at the start of his predominantly iambic lines.
The metaphorical dwelling place of those who are detached from the realities of every day life e.g. some academics.