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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'D'

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


Poetry Terminology by Letter


Dactyl

Definition

An element of meter in poetry. In quantitative verse, such as Greek or Latin, a dactyl is a long syllable followed by two short syllables. In accentual verse, such as English, it is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables.

Example

An example of dactylic meter is the first line of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline, which is in dactylic hexameter:

This is the / forest prim- / eval. The / murmuring / pines and the / hemlocks,

Dactyl (poetry)

Definition

An element of meter in poetry. In quantitative verse, such as Greek or Latin, a dactyl is a long syllable followed by two short syllables. In accentual verse, such as English, it is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables.

Example

An example of dactylic meter is the first line of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline, which is in dactylic hexameter:

This is the / forest prim- / eval. The / murmuring / pines and the / hemlocks,

Dactylic Hexameter

Definition

Meter used in Greek epic poetry. Homer wrote the Odyssey and the Iliad in unrhymed dactylic hexameters. See meter. A more recent example is Evangeline by Longfellow.

Dactylic Meter

Definition

A front stressed meter comprised of three syllables per foot. See meter. 

Dada Poetry

Definition

Poetry which attempts to deny sense and reason. Dada comes from the French for 'hobby-horse' - a word originally selected at random from the dictionary. Dada was the forerunner of surrealist poetry.

Dead Metaphor

Definition

A metaphor which has lost its meaning due to overuse e.g. 'to beat about the bush' or 'one fell swoop'. See metaphor.

Decasyllabic Line

Definition

A line with ten syllables e.g. iambic pentameter. See meter.

Deconstruction

Definition

Form of literary criticism developed by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida which stated that literary texts (including poems) have no fixed or definitive meaning but, instead, are full of contradictions and inconsistencies and are open to a variety of interpretations.

Decorum

Definition

The appropriate adherence to traditional poetic form and content.

Denotation

Definition

Denotation
The dictionary meaning of a word. Writers typically play off a word's denotative meaning against its connotations, or suggested and implied associational implications.

Example

In the following lines from Peter Meinke's "Advice to My Son" the references to flowers and fruit, bread and wine denote specific things, but also suggest something beyond the literal, dictionary meanings of the words:

To be specific, between the peony and rose
Plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;
Beauty is nectar and nectar, in a desert, saves--
...
and always serve bread with your wine.
But, son,
always serve wine.

Descriptive  Verse

Definition

Verse which paints a picture e.g. the first 3 stanzas of Thomas Hardy's early poem Domicilium - which describes the cottage at Higher Bockhampton where he was born.

Dialect Verse

Definition

Verse which employs national or regional dialects e.g. Robert Burns (Scottish), William Barnes (Dorset), Tennyson (Lincolnshire - see Northern Farmer) or my own poems (Norfolk - see New Norfolk Anals).

Diamante

Definition

The purpose is to go from the subject at the top of the diamond to another totally different (and sometimes opposite) subject at the bottom. A seven line poem, shaped like a diamond.

Example

Line 1: Winter = 1 NOUN-A
Line 2: Rainy, cold = 2 ADJECTIVES-A
Line 3: Skiing, skating, sledding = 3 GERUNDS-A (verb + -ing)
Line 4: Mountains, wind, breeze, ocean = 2 NOUNS-A + 2 NOUNS-B
Line 5: Swimming, surfing, scuba diving = 3 GERUNDS-B (verb + -ing)
Line 6: Sunny, hot = 2 ADJECTIVES-B
Line 7: Summer = 1 NOUN-B

Dreams
delightful, wonderful
exciting, daring, fascinating
kings, queens, monsters, giant skittels
raging, horrifying, terrifying
vicious, horrible
nightmares
by Jessica H.

Diction

Definition

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

Didactic

Definition

A form of verse, the aim of which is to instruct the mind and improve morals. It essentially lays out a body of detailed information for the reader with the aim of molding the reader into a certain ethical or religious frame of mind.

Example

Example:

Recipe For Heavenly Destination

To get to Heaven
And stay with Christ
Follow this recipe
And his face you will see

Love
Love your neighbor
Love everyman
Spread the love as much as you can

Pray
Talk to the Lord
Show Him you care
With Him your feelings and worries share

Follow
Follow his teachings
Follow his way
Wherever he goes, follow you may

Lead
Lead the ones who don't see
Lead the ones that don't feel the love
Lead them to the Lord above

Copyright © 2000 David Arlaud


Dimeter

Definition

A dimeter is a metrical line of verse with two feet.

Example

Consider Thomas Hood's "Bridge of Sighs:" Take her up \\ tenderly, Lift her with \\ care, Fashioned so \\ slenderly, Young and so \\ fair.

Diminished Hexaverse

Definition

A poem containing stanzas of 5 lines, then 4 lines, then 3 lines, then 2 lines, ending with one word. The syllables in each stanza correspond to the number of lines, i.e. 5 in each line in the first stanza, 4 in the second stanza and so on. This form may contain more than five stanzas.

Example

Love, At Last...

If the ground should quake,
If the sky should fall,
If the rain lets up,
If the plants all die,
There is one thing left.

If we lose sight,
If we can't speak,
If the bow breaks,
on the last tree,

we won't cry
or resign,
for we know

there's one
thing left:

love.


Copyright © 2005 Tatyana Carney

Dipody

Definition

Greek measure consisting of two metrical feet, which are taken as a single unit.

Dirge

Definition

Poem of lamentation. See elegy.

Dispondee

Definition

Two spondees combined into a single unit.

Dissociation of

Definition

Term invented by T.S. Eliot to describe (what he saw as) the split between thought and feeling which occurred in English poetry after the metaphysical poets.

Dissonance

Definition

Dissonance in poetry is the deliberate avoidance of assonance, i.e. patterns of repeated vowel sounds.

Distich

Definition

A two line Greek stanza. The distich is particularly associated with Greek elegiac verse and consists of one line of dactylic hexameter and one line  of dactylic pentameter.

Distributed Stress

Definition

When uncertainly occurs regarding which of two consecutive syllables is stressed. This is sometimes called hovering accent.

Disyllables

Definition

Disyllables have two syllables in a foot.

Dithyramb

Definition

Greek lyric poem (possibly invented by Arion) sung in honour of the God Bacchus. Alexander's Feast by John Dryden is a more recent example.

Dizain

Definition

Ten lines rhymed a b a b b c c d c d; usually (though not by definition) iambic pentameter. This is a Dizain chain. This is originally a French form and initially would have been made up of eight syllablelines, but later ten syllable lines were also used. The few examples of this form in England did prefer Iambic Pentameter, but that's purely up to the poet. The rhyme scheme is: a. b. a. b. b. c. c. d. c. d.

Example

You entered my heart with laughter and joy,
Ignited thoughts once thought loving and kind.
Stimulating, waking Love thoughts destroyed.
Your captivating charm so hard to find,
Your always the main attraction on my mind.

Each day, each night I spend admiring you,
Our hopes, ours dreams swing in intense romance.
Your a friend, a love beyond déjà vu.
Our souls touched, embracing a new spiritual dance,
You are my love that makes my love stance.

Writer Unknown


Dodoitsu

Definition

The Dodoitsu is a fixed folk song form of Japanese origin and is often about love or humor. It has 26 syllables made of of four lines of 7, 7, 7, 5 syllables respectively. It is unrhymed and non-metrical.

Example

Buried Treasure

Gemstones the size of grapefruit
hide camoflaged in the rocks
buried like a treasure chest
waiting to be found.

Copyright Suzanne Honour 2002-2003


Doggerel

Definition

Poor quality poetry. The Scottish poet William McGonagall is famous for his doggerel and enjoys the dubious distinction of being regarded as the world's worst poet.

Double Consonance

Definition

See pararhyme.

Double Dactyl

Definition

A verse form, also known as "higgledy piggledy," invented by Anthony Hecht and Paul Pascal. Like a limerick, it has a rigid structure and is usually humorous, but the double dactyl is considerably more rigid and difficult to write. There must be two stanzas, each comprising three lines of dactylic dimeter followed by a line with a dactyl and a single accent. The two stanzas have to rhyme on their last line. The first line of the first stanza is repetitive nonsense. The second line of the first stanza is the subject of the poem, a proper noun (usually someone's name). Note that this name must itself be double-dactylic. There is also a requirement for at least one line of the second stanza to be entirely one double dactyl word, for example "va-le-dic-tor-i-an".

Example

A recent one by Gene Weingarten and Dan Weingarten:

Joe and Marilyn

Higgledy Piggledy
Joseph DiMaggio''
Jolted the ball but was
Jilted in bed.

Marilyn walked, but he
Necro-romantically
Laid her in rose bouquets
When she was dead.


Double Rhymes

Definition

Double or disyllabic rhymes occur when the final two syllables of different words chime together - as in 'spender' and 'slender'.

Dramatic monologue

Definition

A type of long lyric poem, developed during the Victorian period, in which a character in fiction or in history delivers a lengthy speech explaining his or her feelings, actions, or motives.

Example

Ulysses
Alfred Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vest the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breath were life. Life piled on life
Were all to little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads you and I are old;
Old age had yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are,
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Ulysses
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Dramatic Verse

Definition

Any drama written as verse to be spoken; another possible general term is poetic drama.

Example

NA

Dramatic Verse (Verse Drama)

Definition

Any drama written as verse to be spoken; another possible general term is poetic drama.

Example

NA

Duple Meter

Definition

See monometer.

Dymock Poets

Definition

Group of poets including Robert Frost, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Gibson, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater and Lascelles Abercrombie. They gathered together in the Gloucestershire village of Dymock to write and discuss poetry in the years immediately preceding the 1st World War.