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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'P'

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

See also Forms of Poetry...



Paeon

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A metrical foot (of Greek origin) containing one long syllable and three short syllables. The position of the long syllable can be varied hence the so-called first, second, third or fourth paeon.


Palindrome

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Word, phrase or line of verse which reads the same forwards or backwards e.g. 'Able was I ere I saw Elba.'


Palinode

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Poem which retracts a statement made in a previous poem.


Panegyric

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Poem which praises or eulogizes something or someone.


Parable

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A parable is a brief, succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a moral or religious lesson. It differs from a fable in excluding animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as actors that assume speech and other powers of humankind.

Example

Matthew 7:24-27 (Worldwide English (New Testament))


24`Everyone who hears what I say and obeys me will be like a man who has good sense. He built his house on a rock.

25It rained hard. The water in the rivers came up high. The winds were strong and beat on the house. But it did not fall down. It was built on a rock.

26But everyone who hears what I say and does not obey me, will be like a man who has no sense. He built his house on the sand.

27It rained hard. The water in the rivers came up high. The winds were strong and beat on the house. It fell down with a loud noise!'

Copyright © by SOON Educational Publications


Paradox

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Seemingly absurd statement which, on closer examination, reveals an important truth e.g. Wordsworth's ' The child is father of the man'.


Parallel Structure

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The repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures.


Pararhyme

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Term coined by Edmund Blunden to describe a form of 'near rhyme' where the consonants in two different words are exactly the same but the vowels vary. Pararhyme is particularly a  feature of the poetry of Wilfred Owen.  For example, in Owen's unfinished poem Strange Meeting we find lines ending with words such as 'groaned' and 'groined' and 'hall' and 'Hell'. Pararhyme is more commonly known as double consonance.


Parataxis

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The use of clauses (one after the other) but without conjunctions e.g. Caesar's 'I came, I saw, I conquered'.


Parnassian

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Term coined by G.M.Hopkins to describe competent but uninspired poetry.


Parnassian Poets

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Group of 19th century French poets (including Leconte de Lisle) who reacted against the excesses of romanticism - favouring instead restraint and objectivity. See also the symbolist poets who, in turn, reacted against the objectivity of the Parnassians.


Parody

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Imitation of a poem or another poet's style for comic/satiric effect. In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll's poem Old Father William is a parody of  The Old Man's Comforts by Robert Southey.


Pastiche

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Literary work composed of material taken from various sources or written in the style of other poets/authors.


Pastoral

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A poem about idyllic rural life - often featuring the life of shepherds. Early examples of the form include the idylls of Theocritus and the eclogues of Virgil. Milton's poem Lycidas is also an example of a pastoral poem. Pastorals tended to die out with the rise of romanticism.


Pathetic Fallacy

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Term coined by Ruskin to describe a tendency of poets (particularly Wordsworth) and painters to attribute human feelings to nature.


Pathos

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One of the three modes of persuasion in rhetoric (along with ethos and logos). Pathos is appeal based on emotion.

Example

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Pen-Name

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Literary pseudonym.


Pentameter

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A pentameter is a line of verse consisting of five metrical feet. Iambic pentameter is one of the most commonly used meters in English.

Example

N/A


Performance Poetry

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Poetry that is performed 'live' in pubs and clubs  - usually from memory. In the UK, performance poetry is often humorous in nature e.g. John Hegley, John Cooper Clarke, Ivor Cutler  and Atilla the Stockbroker etc. Performance poetry was pioneered in the UK by Adrian Mitchell and the Liverpool Poets (Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten.)


Periphrasis

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Circumlocution (or roundabout speaking) employed for poetic effect. See kenning.


Persona Poem

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See dramatic monologue.


Petrarchan Sonnet

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See sonnet.


Phanopoeia

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Poundian term to describe a poem which relies upon 'throwing a visual image on the mind'. He went on to say that this is particularly exemplified by Chinese poetry because the Chinese language is composed of pictograms. See also logopoeia and  melopoeia which, according to Pound, make up the tripartite division of poetry.


Pindaric Ode

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See ode.


Pleonasm

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The use of unnecessary or superfluous words. Poets often fall into this trap when trying to pad out a metrical line e.g. the clown's song from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.


Poem

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Originally a metrical composition. However, many modern poets no longer use meter so a more accurate definition might be: a concentrated or charged piece of writing; often featuring stanzas and line breaks.


Poëme

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Term coined by Alfred de Vigny to define epic or dramatic poems presenting philosophic thoughts.


Poesis

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The making of poetry. It derives from the Greek word 'to make' and eventually became the English word  'poetry' via 'poesie' and 'poesy'.


Poesy

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Poetry taken collectively. The art of writing poetry. 


Archaic word for poetry. Shelley uses it in the first stanza of his long poem The Mask of Anarchy.


Poet

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A writer of poems.


Poet Laureate

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Originally the poet appointed by the king or queen of England to write occasional verse to celebrate royal or national events. In return the poet laureate received a stipend. Ben Jonson was the first unofficial poet laureate although Edmund Spenser did receive a pension from Elizabeth I after flattering her in The Faerie Queene. Jonson was succeeded by Sir William D'Avenant but John Dryden became the first official poet laureate in 1668. Traditionally English poets laureate are appointed for life but Andrew Motion, the current laureate, is the first to be appointed for ten years. The requirement to write occasional verse is no longer enforced. See complete list of UK Poets Laureate.


Poetaster

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An inferior poet. See doggerel.


Poète Maudit

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An under appreciated poet. In French, it literally means the 'cursed poet'.


Poetess

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A female poet.


Poetic

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Exhibiting the good qualities of poetry.


Poetic Diction

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The particular language (words and phrases) employed by poets. Poetic diction has changed much over the centuries. Traditionally poetry was associated with a certain 'floweriness', but since the advent of modernism this has been replaced by a more sparse lexicon. Modern poets have also tended to avoid elision such as ne'er or 'tis and also the use of archaic terminology such as thee, thy and thou.


Poetic Form

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See: form


Poetic Justice

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The justice meted out by poets (in an ideal world) - where virtue is rewarded and vice punished.


Poetic Licence

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The freedom of poets to depart from the normal rules of written language and/or literal fact in order to create an effect. This often occurs when poets use inventive figurative language.


Poeticize

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(or Poeticise) To make poetical.


Poetics

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Essays describing the art and theory of poetry e.g. Poetics by Aristotle.


Poetize

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(or Poetise) To write or compose poetry.


Poetry

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Poetry is a careful, inventive, or creative consideration of words written in order to convey some thought as a literary composition. Usually, but not always, the words written are designed to evoke emotion. Poetry can manifest itself as a two-word phrase or a one thousand-page book.

Example

 

She Walks in Beauty

By George (Lord) Byron

She walks in Beauty, like the night 
Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 
And all that's best of dark and bright 
Meet in her aspect and her eyes: 
Thus mellowed to that tender light 
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies. 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 
Had half impaired the nameless grace 
Which waves in every raven tress, 
Or softly lightens o'er her face; 
Where thoughts serenely sweet express, 
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow, 
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 
But tell of days in goodness spent, 
A mind at peace with all below, 
A heart whose love is innocent!


Poetry Review

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The journal of the Poetry Society, founded in 1912.


Poetry Slam

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Form of performance poetry pioneered by Marc Smith in Chicago U.S.A.. Poetry Slam takes the form of a competitive poetry reading where participants read their own poems from memory and are marked on their performance by judges. See Poetryslam.com.


Poetry Slam

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(or Slam) The term "Poetry Slam" is an umbrella category (not form) for any form of poem (Couplet, Rhyme, Free Verse, Alliteration, etc) meant to be performed for a live audience in a competitive environment. These performances are then judged on a numeric scale by previously selected members of the audience. Typically, poetry slam is highly politicized, speaking on many issues including current social and economic issues, gendered injustices, and racial issues. Poets are judged not only on the content of their slam but the manner of delivery and passion behind their words.

Example

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8723097898466379752#


Poetry Society

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UK society founded in 1909 to promote poetry and the art of verse speaking. Visit the Poetry Society website.


Poets' Corner

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Part of the south transept of Westminster Abbey where many famous English poets are buried or commemorated - including Chaucer, Spenser, Dryden, Tennyson, Gay, Drayton and Browning etc. Technically it is not a corner, nor is it occupied exclusively by poets.


Point of view

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The vantage point from which the writer tells a story: first person, third person limited, omniscient, and objective.


Polemic

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A poem presenting a controversial discussion e.g. Milton's Areopagitica (1664).


Polysyllable

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(or polysyllabic) - words with four or more syllables


Polysyndeton

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The repetition of conjunctions (in close proximity)  e.g. 'and' in The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll by Bob Dylan.


Portmanteau Word

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Factitious word created by blending the sounds and meanings of two other words e.g. 'slithy' from Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky which is a combination of 'lithe' and 'slimy'. See also neologism.


Poulter's Measure

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Alternating lines of iambic hexameter and iambic heptameter.


Poundian

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In the style of Ezra Pound i.e. highly eclectic.


Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

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A group of poets and artists including D.G. Rossetti, Walter Pater and William Morris. Their work is characterised by the use of medieval settings and subject matter and was a reaction against the ugliness of Victorian life. They were particularly inspired by La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats.


Proceleus Maticus

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Classical foot consisting of four short or unstressed syllables. Also known as proceleusmatic.


Prologue

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The introductory section of a poem or literary work. In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer employed a general prologue but also individual prologues e.g. The Franklin's Prologue and The Reeve's Prologue. See also epilogue.


Prose

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Prose is writing distinguished from poetry by its greater variety of rhythm and its closer resemblance to the patterns of everyday speech. The word prose comes from the Latin prosa, meaning straightforward. This describes the type of writing that prose embodies, unadorned with obvious stylistic devices. Prose writing is usually adopted for the description of facts or the discussion of ideas. Thus, it may be used for newspapers, magazines, novels, encyclopedias, screenplays, films, philosophy, letters, essays, history, biography and many other forms of media.

Example

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Prosody

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Prosody is the study of the meter, rhythm, and intonation of a poem.

Example

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Prosopopeia

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From the Greek meaning to 'make' a 'person' - hence the personification of inanimate objects or abstractions. See also personification.


Protagonist

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Main character


Prothalamion

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Similar to epithalamion but written prior to the wedding in question. In 1596 Spenser published Prothalamion to celebrate the double marriage of Lady Elizabeth and Lady Katherine - daughters of the Earl of Worcester.


Psalm

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Poetic-musical composition, introduced in the Jewish liturgy by king David, who improvised sacred songs accompanied by a harp. Psalm means in fact "chant accompanied by a string instrument".

Example

Psalms 119
153 O see my affliction, and rescue me;
For I have not forgotten your own law.
154 O do conduct my legal case and recover me;
Preserve me alive in agreement with your saying.
155 Salvation is far away from the wicked ones,
For they have not searched for your own regulations.
156 Many are your mercies, O Jehovah.
According to your judicial decisions, O preserve me alive.
157 My persecutors and my adversaries are many.
From your reminders I have not deviated.
158 I have seen those who are treacherous in dealing,
And I do feel a loathing, because they have not kept your own saying.
159 O see that I have loved your own orders.
O Jehovah, according to your loving-kindness preserve me alive.
160 The substance of your word is truth,
                   And every righteous judicial decision of yours is to time indefinite.


Pseudonym

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Pen-name or nom de plume adopted by a poet/author.


Puffery

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(or Puff) Reviews which overpraise or laud unworthy work; usually produced by literary cliques. Probably originated from the character Mr Puff in Sheridan's play The Critic. See log-rolling.


Pun

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Playful device where similar sounding words with different meanings, or single words with multiple meanings are employed. Shakespeare frequently used puns for both comic and serious effect e.g. in Romeo and Juliet the dying Mercutio says: "Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man." 


Pure Poetry

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Poetry that does not try to educate, instruct or convert the reader - as opposed to didactic verse. An example of pure poetry would be Ariel's Songs by William Shakespeare.


Puritan Poets

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17th Century US colonial poets - such as Edward Taylor, Anne Bradstreet and Michael Wigglesworth - who wrote pietistic poetry.


Purple Patch

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Pejorative term for an excessively ornate or florid passage of writing.


Pylon Poets

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Group of 1930s left-wing poets including W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Cecil Day-Lewis and Louis MacNeice. They were known for their use of industrial imagery - which included references to trains, skyscrapers, factories, roads etc. The actual term 'pylon' was derived from Spender's 1933 poem The Pylons. See also MacSpaunday


Pyrrhic Meter

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A metrical foot comprising two unstressed syllables.