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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'S'

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

See also Forms of Poetry...



Sapphic

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Definition

Classical Greek stanza used by the lyric poetess Sappho and comprising of four unrhymed lines. The first three lines are written in trochaic pentameter except for the third foot which is a dactyl. The fourth line has only two feet: a dactyl and a trochee.


Satire

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Definition

Satire (from Latin satira, "medley, dish of colourful fruits") is a technique used in drama, fiction, journalism, and occasionally in poetry, the graphic arts, the performing arts and other media in which the artist or author draws out societal or religious criticisms through use of other literary devices. Although satire is usually witty, and often very funny, the purpose of satire is not primarily humour but criticism of an event, an individual or a group in a clever manner.

Example

Adair Welcker, Poet

THE Swan of Avon died--the Swan
Of Sacramento'll soon be gone;
And when his death-song he shall coo,
Stand back, or it will kill you too.

Ambrose Bierce~


Scansion

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Definition

(or Scanning) The analysis of lines of poetry to identify their metrical pattern.


Scop

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Definition

Anglo-Saxon minstrel.


Scottish Chaucerians

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Definition

Group of Scottish poets including King James I, Robert Henryson, William Dunbar and Gawin Douglas who were all influenced by Chaucer.


Scottish Renaissance

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Definition

20th century Scottish literary movement (led by Hugh MacDiarmid) which aimed to revive the use of the Scots dialect. See also Lallans.


Scriblerus Club

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Definition

Association of writers, including Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay and John Arbuthnot, who met during 1714 to satirise 'all the false tastes in learning'.


Septet

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Definition

A stanza comprising of seven lines.


Serpentine Verse

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Definition

Line or stanza of poetry which begins and ends with the same word.


Sesta Rima

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Definition

A six line stanza composed of a quatrain and a couplet and rhymed a-b-a-b-c-c. This verse form is often known as the Venus and Adonis stanza as it was used by Shakespeare in his narrative poem of that name.


Sestet

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Definition

A stanza comprising of six lines e.g. The Castaway by William Cowper. A sestet is also the last six lines of a sonnet - following the octave. See sonnet.


Shakespeare's Line

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Definition

Shakespeare's plays were essentially written in blank iambic pentameters - i.e. lines containing five two-syllable feet with the stress falling on the second syllable in each foot e.g:


Shakespearean Sonnet

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Definition

See sonnet.


Shi/Shih

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Definition

Chinese term for different types of poetry/poems. See also jintishi, gushi and xinshi.


Sicilian Poets

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Definition

Group of poets associated with the court of Emperor Frederick II (1220-1250) in Palermo.


Sick Verse

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Definition

Poetry which exhibits an unhealthy preoccupation with subjects such as death or disease e.g. Surgeon at 2 a.m. by Sylvia Plath or Late Flowering Lust by John Betjeman.


Simile

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Definition

An expression that compares one thing to another using 'like' or 'as'.

Example

The milk tasted like pickles.


Skald

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Definition

A Scandinavian bard or minstrel.


Skeltonic Verse

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Definition

(or Skeltonics) Verse written in the style of John Skelton (?1460-1529). Skeltonic verse features short, irregular lines with multiple rhymes, written in a tumbling, helter-skelter style e.g. the following lines form How the Doughty Duke of Albany


Slant Rhyme

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Definition

Substitution of assonance or consonance for true rhyme (world / boiled, bear / bore) - also called half & near rhyme.


Song

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Definition

A poem which is written to be sung or chanted - without or without musical accompaniment.


Sonnet Sequence

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Definition

A collection of sonnets. The first sonnet sequence in English was Astrophel and Stella by Sir Philip Sidney. Other sonnet sequences include Amoretti by Spenser, Shakespeare's sonnets (154 in total), Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and more recently The Glanmore Sonnets by Seamus Heaney.


Sonneteer

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Definition

A writer of sonnets. See sonnet.


Spasmodic School Poets

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Definition

Term devised by William Aytoun to describe a group of Victorian poets including: P. J. Bailey, J.W. Marston, S.T. Dobell and Alexander Smith whose work was characterised by violent and obscure imagery.


Spelling Rhyme

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Definition

This occurs where the end words of a line are spelled similarly e.g. 'love' and 'move' but don't chime together as rhymes.


Spenserian Sonnet

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Definition

See sonnet.


Spenserian Stanza

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Definition

Stanza form developed by Edmund Spenser and almost certainly influenced by rhyme royal and ottava rima. Spenser's stanza has nine lines and is rhymed a-b-a-b-b-c-b-c-c. The first eight lines of the stanza are in iambic pentameter and the last line in iambic hexameter. He used this form in his epic poem The Faerie Queene. John Keats, a great admirer of Spenser, used this stanza in his poem The Eve of St. Agnes.


Spondee

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Definition

(or Spondaic ) A two syllable foot that is comprised of two accented syllables-usually this is done in poetry by using one syllable words (like cat, dog) in a row

Example

bread box, shoe shine


Sprung Rhythm

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Definition

A unique system of meter devised by Gerard Manley Hopkins and evident in poems such as Pied Beauty and The Windhover. In Sprung rhythm one stressed syllable can make up a foot e.g. in Pied Beauty:


Stanza

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Definition

One or more lines that make up the basic units of a poem - separated from each other by spacing.


Stave

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Definition

See stanza above.


Stichomythia

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Definition

Stichomythia is a technique in drama or poetry, in which alternating lines, or half-lines, are given to alternating characters, voices, or entities. The term originated in the literature of Ancient Greece, and is often applied to the dramas of Sophocles, though others like Shakespeare are known to use it. Etymologically it derives from the Greek stichos ("rows") + mythos ("speech"). Stichomythia is particularly well suited to sections of dramatic dialogue where two characters are in violent dispute. The rhythmic intensity of the alternating lines combined with quick, biting ripostes in the dialogue can be quite powerful.

Example

A short example from the R.C. Jebb translation of Antigone:

ISMENE: And what life is dear to me, bereft of thee?
ANTIGONE: Ask Creon; all thy care is for him.
ISMENE: Why vex me thus, when it avails thee nought?
ANTIGONE: Indeed, if I mock, 'tis with pain that I mock thee.
ISMENE: Tell me,-how can I serve thee, even now?
ANTIGONE: Save thyself: I grudge not thy escape.
ISMENE: Ah, woe is me! And shall I have no share in thy fate?
ANTIGONE: Thy choice was to live; mine, to die.
ISMENE: At least thy choice was not made without my protest.
ANTIGONE: One world approved thy wisdom; another, mine.


Storm of Association

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Definition

Term coined by Wordsworth to describe the kind of poetic inspiration inspired by the Muse.


Stream of Consciousness

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Definition

Style that portrays the inner (often chaotic) workings of the mind.


Strophe

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Definition

The first stanza of a Pindaric ode. See ode.


Surrealist Poets

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Definition

Group of 20th century French poets (including André Breton, Louis Aragon and Paul Éluard) who were inspired by Freud's theories of the unconscious and who sought to produce irrational work.


Syllabic Verse

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Definition

A poetic form having a fixed number of syllables per line or stanza regardless of the number of stresses that are present. It is common in languages that are syllable-timed such as Japanese or modern French or Spanish, as opposed to accentual verse, which is common in stress-timed languages such as English.

Example

The following stanza from "Especially When The October Wind" by Dylan Thomas is an example of syllabic verse in English. Each line is made up of 10 syllables.(Note how the line "And cast/ a sha/dow crab/ upon/ the land/" can be scanned as regular iambic pentameter even though it is considered syllabic in the context of the poem)

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.


Syllable

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Definition

A syllable is a unit of speech sounds or a unit of pronunciation making up a word. For example, the word 'badger' consists of two syllables 'bad' and 'ger'. In English, syllables can be defined as either stressed (long) or unstressed (short). See meter. Syllables are ways to split words into speech sounds. For example, the word monkey is composed of two syllables: mon and key. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus or vowel with optional opening and closing consonants: like the word man.


Syllable Counting

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Definition

Technique used in both traditional metrical verse forms (see meter) and in Japanese inspired forms such as haiku or tanka.  In traditional metrical forms the counting is based on the regular patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line. In Japanese forms, the syllable count is based solely on the total number of syllables. Some modern poets such as Marianne Moore and Peter Reading have used this second type of syllable counting to give their work intricate structures. 


Syllepsis

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Definition

See zeugma.


Symbol

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Definition

A type of image that transferred something that represents something else, such as Spring for youth, or darkness for death. Symbols are useful in transferring ideals carried in the image without stating them. A symbol works two ways: It is something itself, and it also suggests something deeper. It is crucial to distinguish a symbol from a metaphor: Metaphors are comparisons between two seemingly dissimilar things; symbols associate two things, but their meaning is both literal and figurative.

Example

THE LONG HILL
Sara Teasdale

I must have passed the crest a while ago
    And now I am going down--
Strange to have crossed the crest and not to know,
    But the brambles were always catching the hem of my gown.

All the morning I thought how proud I should be
    To stand there straight as a queen,
Wrapped in the wind and the sun with the world under me--
    But the air was dull, there was little I could have seen.

It was nearly level along the beaten track
    And the brambles caught in my gown--
But it's no use now to think of turning back,
    The rest of the way will be only going down.


Symbolist Poets

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Definition

Group of 19th century French poets including Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarmé and Laforgue who reacted against the objectivity and realism of the Parnassian movement. They favoured, instead, the use of evocative language employing symbolism. They were influenced by Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe.


Synaesthesia

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Definition

Describing one kind of sense impression by using words that normally describe another sense. A blending or confusion of different kinds of sense impression, in which one type of sensation is referred to in terms more appropriate to another. Common synaesthetic expressions include the descriptions of colors as "loud" or "warm", and of sounds as "smooth". A crossing of sensory metaphors (e.g., "loud shirt", "bitter wind", "sweet voice", "velvety smile" or "prickly laugh").

Example

4 Jon On Our 22nd Wedding Anniversary

Your love is
quite sensational –

Your laughter tastes
    like spring-time rain

Your tears smell
    like sweet lemon flower petals

Your voice looks
    so 
    deeply 
    majestic

Your heart sounds
    like exquisite violin and harp concertos

And your eyes!

Your eyes feel
    like early autumn sunset’s amber-gold lengthening glow

Oh, my love, your love
is entirely, completely,
embracingly

Sen-sational!
Copyright © 2007 Rev. Rebecca Guile Hudson 


Synalepha

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Definition

Type of elision where two adjacent vowels occur and one is suppressed e.g. 'And strike to dust th' imperial tow'rs of Troy' by Pope.


Syncope

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Definition

See elision.


Synecdoche

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Definition

A figure of speech that presents a kind of metaphor in which:A part of something is used for the whole, The whole is used for a part, The species is used for the genus, The genus is used for the species, or The stuff of which something is made is used for the thing.

Example

  • A part of something is used for the whole
    • "hands" to refer to workers, "head" for cattle, "threads" for clothing, "wheels" for car, "mouths to feed" for hungry people, "white hair" for the elderly, "The Press" for news media
  • The whole is used for a part
    • "the police" for a handful of officers, "body" for the trunk of the body, the "smiling year" for spring, "the Pentagon" for the top-ranking generals in the Pentagon building
  • The species is used for the genus
    • "cutthroat" for assassin, "kleenex" for facial tissue, "coke" for soda, "castle" for home, "bread" for food, "Judas" for traitor
  • The genus is used for the species
    • "creature" for person, "milk" for cow's milk
  • The material of which an object is made is used for the complete object
    • "willow" for cricket bat, "copper" for penny, "boards" for stage, "ivories" for piano keys, "plastic" for credit card, "the hardwood" for a gym floor


Synonym

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Definition

Word or phrase with the same meaning as another e.g. 'nice' and 'pleasant'.


Syntax

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Definition

The way in which linguistic elements (words and phrases) are arranged to form grammatical structure.

Example

N/A