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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'M'

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


Poetry Terminology by Letter


Macaronic Verse

Definition

Verse which jumbles together lines or phrases written in different languages (Originally this would have included some Latin.) John Skelton, the English renaissance poet, wrote a number of poems in this style.

Macron

Definition

In prosody, a macron is the mark placed over a syllable in a line of verse to show that it is stressed. It is denoted by the following symbol (?). See also breve and meter.

MacSpaunday

Definition

Composite nick-name (devised by Roy Campbell) for Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender, W.H.Auden and C. Day-Lewis. See also Pylon Poets.

Madah

Definition

Poem written in praise of royalty, patrons, etc.

Madrigal

Definition

A short love poem which can easily be set to music.

Magnum Opus

Definition

An artist or poet's 'great work' e.g. Milton's Paradise Lost.

Maker

Definition

Archaic term for poet. In February 2004 Edwin Morgan was appointed as 'the Scots Maker' - a position similar to that of the English poet laureate.

Manqabat

Definition

A poem written in praise of members of the family of the holy Prophet

Mansion of Many Apartments

Definition

Theory devised by John Keats stating that people are capable of different levels of thought. He suggested that some have the ability to move through the 'thoughtless chamber' and the 'chamber of maiden thought' to reach more profound states.

Marsiya

Definition

Pronounced (muhr-see-yaa)

An elegy written to mourn the death of a great man or a dearly loved person. In its stricter sense, traditionally accepted in Urdu, Marsiya (or elegy) is nearly always on the death of Hasan and Husain and their families, but occasionally on the death of relatives and friends.

It is usually in six-lined stanzas with the rhyme aaaabb. The recitation of these elegies in the first ten days of Muharram is one of the greatest event in Muslim life. A fully developed marsiya is always an epic. The famous marsia writers who inherited the tradition of Mir Anis among his successive generations are Mir Nawab Ali 'Munis', Dulaha Sahab 'Uruj', Mustafa Meerza urf Piyare Sahab 'Rasheed', Syed Muhammad Mirza Uns, Ali Nawab 'Qadeem', Syed Sajjad Hussain "Shadeed" Lucknavi, Allama, Dr.Syed Ali Imam Zaidi, "Gauher" Luckhnavi the(great grandson of Mir Babber Ali Anis).

Martian Poetry

Definition

Term used to describe the work of poets such as Craig Raine and Christopher Reid. It originated from Raine's 1979 collection A Martian Sends a Postcard Home. Martian poetry frequently describes everyday objects from unusual angles by using inventive metaphor and simile. For example, in Raine's poem A Walk in the Country a sewage farm is described as being 'like a tape-recorder, whose black spools turn night and day'.

Masculine Rhyme

Definition

See Rhyme.

Masnavi

Definition

Masnavi, in the majority of cases a poetic romance. It may extend to several thousand lines, but generally is much shorter. A few masnavis deal with ordinary domestic and other occurrences. Mir and Sauda wrote some of this kind. They are always in heroic couplets, and the common metre is bacchic tetrameter with an iambus for last foot. The Religious masnavi Histori of Islam (Tarikh-e-Islam Az Quran) written by Dr. Syed Ali Imam Zaidi Gauher Lucknavi.

McWhirtle

Definition

A light verse form similar to a double dactyl, invented in 1989 by American poet Bruce Newling. McWhirtles share essentially the same form as double dactyls, but without the strict requirements, making them easier to write.

Example

An example by American poet Kenn Nesbitt:

Fernando the Fearless
We're truly in awe of
Fernando the Fearless
who needed no net
for the flying trapeze.
Alas, what a shame
it's surprisingly difficult
catching a bar
in the midst of a sneeze.

Meiosis

Definition

Understatement.

Meistersinger

Definition

Certain 14th-16th century German lyric poets who organised themselves in guilds and composed elaborate verse. They were influenced by the minnesingers.

Melibean

Definition

Melibean, Melibœan, mel-i-be'an, adj. in poetry, alternately responsive—from the name of a shepherd in Virgil's first eclogue.

Melic Poetry

Definition

Greek poetry written to be sung. The term derives from the Greek word 'melos' meaning 'song'.

Melopoeia

Definition

Poundian term to describe the kind of poem which induces 'emotional correlations by the sound and rhythm of the speech'. He stated that the maximum amount of melopoeia is to be found in poems that are written to be sung, chanted or read aloud. See also logopoeia and phanopoeia.

Mermaid Tavern

Definition

Tavern frequented by John Donne, Francis Beaumont, Ben Jonson and possibly William Shakespeare. It stood in Bread St. London and was the location for literary meetings. Keats wrote about it in Lines on the Mermaid Tavern.

Meseems

Definition

Meseems, me-semz', v.impers. it seems to me (used only in poetry). [Me, the dative of I, and seems used impersonally.]

Mesostich

Definition

See acrostic.

Metaphor

Definition

A word or phrase used to have a completely different meaning.

Example

Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" being a constant reminder of his loss and not truly a raven.

Metaphor, Extended

Definition

A metaphorical comparison that is stretched throughout large portions or an entire poem.

Metaphysical Poets

Definition

A term originally coined by Samuel Johnson in his Life of Cowley to criticise a group of poets including: John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Traherne, Andrew Marvell and Abraham Cowley etc. whose poetry he regarded as being over intellectualised. The term is somewhat misleading as it pigeon holes a number of poets who, in reality, had little in common.

Meter

Definition

The measured arrangement of words in poetry, as by accentual rhythm, syllabic quantity, or the number of syllables in a line. The definitive pattern established for a verse (such as iambic pentameter).

Metonymy

Definition

The substitution of one word for another with which it is associated.

Example

"The Crown" for the British monarchy.
"The press" for the news media.
"A dish" for an entrée.
"The Pentagon", a building, to refer to the organization that occupies it, the U.S. Department of Defense.
"The White House" for the President of the United States and his administration, by the same token as above.

Metrical Romance

Definition

A metrical romance recounts the quest undertaken by a single knight in order to gain a lady’s favor. Frequently, its central interest is courtly love, together with tournaments fought and dragons and monsters slain for the damsel’s sake. It stresses the chivalric ideals of courage, loyalty, honor, mercifulness to an opponent, and exquisite and manners; and it delights in wonders and marvels.

See also: Metrical Tale Narrative Poetry

Metrical Tale

Definition

A metrical tale is a simple and straightforward long story consisting usually of a single series connective events, and usually do not form a plot. Examples of these are simple idylls or home tales, love tales, tales of the supernatural or tales written for a strong moral purpose in verse form and can be the length of a short story or of a complete novel.

See also: Metrical Tale Narrative Poetry


Middle English

Definition

The written and spoken language of England from the beginning of the 12th Century to approx. 1500. The most important writer of the period being Chaucer.

Miltonian/Miltonic

Definition

In the style of John Milton.

Miltonic Sonnet

Definition

See sonnet.

Mimesis

Definition

The imitation of reality in art/poetry.

Minnesinger

Definition

Minnesinger, min'e-sing'er, n. one of a school of German amatory lyric poets in the 12th and 13th centuries, mostly of noble birth. [Ger. minne, love, singer, singer.]

Minnesingers

Definition

German lyric poets who were writing between the 12th and 14th centuries. Their main subject was 'love' (Minne) - hence their name. They were  influenced by the French troubadour poets. See also meistersinger.

Minstrel

Definition

Itinerant medieval musician/singer/story teller/poet. See bard and jongleur.

Mixed Metaphor

Definition

Figure of speech which combines two or more inconsistent metaphors e.g. 'We're not through the woods by a long chalk.' Or more famously the fourth line from Hamlet's soliloquy: 'Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.' See metaphor.

Mock-Epic

Definition

See mock-heroic.

Mock-Heroic

Definition

Type of satirical verse which deals with trivial matters in the style of epic or heroic verse. The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope is an example of mock-heroic verse. Pope's poem was inspired by Lord Petre's cutting of a lock of Miss Arabella Fermor's hair without her permission.

Modern English

Definition

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

Modernism

Definition

Literary movement that occurred from c.1890 until the beginning of World War II and sought to challenge traditional forms.

Molossus

Definition

Classical metrical foot containing three long or stressed syllables.

Monody

Definition

A Greek ode sung by a single actor and lamenting a person's death. A modern example is Monody on the Death of a Platonist Bank Clerk by John Betjeman.

Monoku

Definition

A haiku in a single horizontal line.

Example

an icicle the moon drifting through it

Matsuo Allard (Bird Day Afternoon, High/Coo Press, 1978)

Monometer

Definition

A line consisting of one metrical foot. Monometers are very rare. However an example of a (predominantly) iambic monometer is Upon His Departure Hence by Robert Herrick. 

Monorhyme

Definition

An identical rhyme on every line, common in Latin and Arabic. "aaaaa..."

Example

A break from my career,
to visit a new frontier.
Where life is not severe,
and stress will disappear.
I'll become a pioneer,
a new found volunteer.
To help this old sphere,
make it's air all clear.
We will persevere,
for I'm the brigadier.
So as I tip my beer,
lets offer up a cheer.
Lets make this our year
where everyone will be sincere.

Monosyllable

Definition

(or monosyllabic) - words with one syllable

Example

Dog

Mora

Definition

A unit of measure in quantitative verse; namely the time taken up by a short syllable. A long syllable is equal to two morae.

Movement Poets

Definition

Term coined by J. D. Scott, editor of the Spectator, to describe a group of poets including Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, D. J. Enright, John Wain and Robert Conquest. Movement poetry tends to be witty, sardonic, anti-poetic and eschewed the use of classical allusions. See also the New Apocalypse.

Munaajaat

Definition

A lyrical poem written as a prayer to God.

Musaddas

Definition

A poem in which each unit consists of 6 lines. The most well known poet of this style of writing was Maulana Altaf Husain Hali.

Muse

Definition

The nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who inspired artists and musicians. Four of the daughters: Calliope, Euterpe, Erato and Polyhymnia were specifically responsible for inspiring poets.

Muse/Muses

Definition

The nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who inspired artists and musicians. Four of the daughters: Calliope, Euterpe, Erato and Polyhymnia were specifically responsible for inspiring poets.