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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'O'

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


Poetry Terminology by Letter


Objective Correlative

Definition

Term devised by T.S. Eliot to describe a poet's attempt to find a concrete or specific situation/location/thing which evokes a particular emotion in the reader (as opposed to attempting to describe the emotion itself.) In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Eliot writes: 

Objectivists

Definition

Group of poets including Carl Rakosi, George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff, Basil Bunting and Louis Zukofsky. Objectivism grew out of imagism. The objectivists looked to Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams as mentors.

Oblique Rhyme

Definition

Alternative term for near rhyme.

Occasion, The

Definition

What event or incident, if any, has motivated the speaker?

Occasional verse

Definition

Verse written to celebrate an occasion such as a coronation, a wedding or a birth. At national level, occasional verse would be one of the duties of the poet laureate.

Octameter

Definition

A line of eight metrical feet.

Example

Trochaic

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door
(Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven")

Dactylic

Ere frost-flower and snow-blossom faded and fell, and the splendour of winter had passed out of sight,
The ways of the woodlands were fairer and stranger than dreams that fulfil us in sleep with delight;
The breath of the mouths of the winds had hardened on tree-tops and branches that glittered and swayed
Such wonders and glories of blossomlike snow or of frost that outlightens all flowers till it fade
(A. C. Swinburne, "March: An Ode")

Octave

Definition

A stanza comprising of eight lines; sometimes known as an octet or octastich.

Octosyllabic Line

Definition

A line containing eight syllables e.g. iambic tetrameter.

Ode

Definition

A lengthy lyric poem typically of a serious or meditative nature and having an elevated style and formal stanza structure. A classic ode is structured in three parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist.

Example

Excerpt---

Intimations of Immortality

by William Wordsworth

I
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;-
Turn whereso'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

II
The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.


Offbeat

Definition

Work which is quirky or unconventional.

Old English

Definition

The written and spoken language of England from the first half of the 5th Century to the period just after the Norman Conquest; often referred to as Anglo-Saxon. The two pre-eminent texts from this period are Beowulf and The Dream of the Rood.

Onomatopoeia

Definition

Also spelled onomatopœia. A figure of speech that employs a word, or occasionally, a grouping of words, that imitates the sound it is describing, and thus suggests its source object. A word imitating a sound.

Example

buzz
moo
beep
bang
click


Open Syllables

Definition

Open syllables are syllables that end in a vowel. The most common open syllable is the CV syllable.

Opera

Definition

A dramatic work set to music e.g. Aida by Verdi.

Operetta

Definition

A short or humorous opera.

Opus

Definition

A musical composition or set of compositions or an artistic work - usually on a grand scale. See also Magnum Opus.

Oral Poetry

Definition

Poetry composed to be recited rather than read. Oral poetry was a feature of many pre-literate societies. Much of it was chanted to a musical accompaniment.

Organic Form

Definition

The form taken by poetry which arises naturally from its subject matter - as opposed to  'mechanic form' e.g. stanzaic or metrical patterns which can be imposed upon it.

Ottava rima

Definition

The ottava rima stanza in English consists of eight iambic lines, usually iambic pentameters. Each stanza consists of three rhymes following the rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c. The form is similar to the older Sicilian octave, but evolved separately and is unrelated. The Sicilian octave is derived from the medieval strambotto and was a crucial step in the development of the sonnet, whereas the ottava rima is related to the canzone, a stanza form.

Example

From Frere's Whistlecraft:

But chiefly, when the shadowy moon had shed
O'er woods and waters her mysterious hue,
Their passive hearts and vacant fancies fed
With thoughts and aspirations strange and new,
Till their brute souls with inward working bred
Dark hints that in the depths of instinct grew
Subjection not from Locke's associations,
Nor David Hartley's doctrine of vibrations.

From Byron's Don Juan:

"Go, little book, from this my solitude!
I cast thee on the waters – go thy ways!
And if, as I believe, thy vein be good,
The world will find thee after many days."
When Southey 's read, and Wordsworth understood,
I can't help putting in my claim to praise –
The four first rhymes are Southey's every line:
For God's sake, reader! take them not for mine.

Overstatement

Definition

See hyperbole.

Oxymoron

Definition

Figure of speech containing two seemingly contradictory expressions e.g. 'Faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.' (Idylls of the King by Tennyson)