Poetry Terms | Terminology

Poetry terms and terminology. A dictionary of poetry terms and examples that are excellent for teachiing and learning various aspects of poetry. This comprehensive glossary of English poetry terminology or literary terms is a valuable resource for all poets and educators.

PoetrySoup makes a distinction between poetry terms and poetry forms. Forms of poetry adhere to a certain pattern, scheme, or meter, etc. However, our poetry terms are words or terminology that are closely associated with poetry while not a form of poetry. We have seperated poetry forms from these definitions.

See also: Forms of Poetry

Poetry Terminology by Letter

Some Random Poetry Terms

Modern English

The written and spoken language of England from approx. 1500 to the present day.

Pindaric Ode

See ode.


A large exageration, usually used with humor.


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

Fleshly School of Poetry

Derogatory term coined by Robert Buchanan (writing as Thomas Maitland) to describe the work of D.G. Rossetti, A.C. Swinburne and William Morris who he saw as being immoral and overly sensual.

Cairo Poets

Group of poets including Lawrence Durrell and Keith Douglas who were based in North Africa during World War II.

Naive and Sentimental

Term coined by Schiller to distinguish (what he saw as) two separate types of poets: 'Naive' - those like Homer, Shakespeare and Goethe who dealt with nature as it is and 'Sentimental' - those who, like himself, or Wordsworth dealt with it in a more detached or formal manner.


A short tale in verse originating from early French poetry. Fabliaux were often comic or ribald in tone. An English example is the Miller's Tale by Chaucer.

Sonnet Sequence

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.


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


(or trisyllabic) - words with three syllables


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


Erato, er'a-to, n. the Muse of lyric poetry.


Poem which is directly addressed to a person or thing (often absent). An example is Wordsworth's sonnet Milton which begins: 'Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour'. NB not to be confused with an apostrophe indicating missing letters or the possessive case. Other examples of apostrophe include A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg (addressed to Walt Whitman) and my own poem Invocation.

Hovering Accent

See distributed stress.