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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'L'

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

Poetry Terminology by Letter



See virelai and/or lay.

Lake Poets


Collective term for Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey who all lived in the Lake District in the early years of the 19th century. The landscape of the Lake District provided them with inspiration for their poetry - especially so for Wordsworth. See also Romanticism.

Lakers/Lake School


See 'Lake Poets' above.



Scottish literary language - as used by Hugh MacDiarmid and Robert Burns.



See elegy.



Scurrilous, satirical poem e.g. John Wilmot's famous epitaph for Charles II:



A type of poem that has one syllable in the first line, two syllables in the second line, three syllables in the third line, four syllables in the fourth line, and one syllable in the fifth line that related to the first word of the poem.


  • 5 line poem
  • each line has a specific number of syllables

    line 1 = 1 syllable
    line 2 = 2 syllables
    line 3 = 3 syllables
    line 4 = 4 syllables
    line 5 = 1 syllable
  • lines do not rhyme
  • poem is based on one sentence or idea


running fast
scoring touchdowns



See Poet Laureate.



A long narrative poem, especially one that was sung by medieval minstrels.


 - Excerpt

The Lay of the Last Minstrel
by Sir Walter Scott

The way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His wither'd cheek, and tresses gray,
Seem'd to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.



Theme running through a piece of work.



A poetic form created by Lencio Dominic Rodrigues, the Lento is named after it's creator, taken from his first name Lencio and rhymed to Cento, an existing form of poetry.

A Lento consists of two quatrains with a fixed rhyme scheme of abcbdefe as the second and forth lines of each stanza must rhyme. To take it a step further, but not required, try rhyming the first and third lines as well as the second and forth lines of each stanza in this rhyming pattern: ababcdcd. The fun part of this poem is thrown in here as all the FIRST words of each verse should rhyme. There is no fixed syllable structure to the Lento, but keeping a good, flowing rhythm is recommended. 

For an added challenge, one may write a four-verse Lento and call it a Double Lento, or a six-versed Lento to become a Triple Lento. A Lento of eight verses and more is called a Lento chain.

Below is an example of a Lento:


Composed in winter of Two Thousand Five, (a) Proposed by my dreams, this entire theme, (b) Exposed now for all to write and have fun, (c) Supposed to be easy though it doesn't seem. (b) Two verses of four lines each you will write, (d) Do rhyme the beginning word in every line, (e) Pursue to keep last rhymes in line two and four, (f) Chew your brain a little, you'll do just fine! (e)

Leonine Verse


Type of verse possibly attributed to a 13th century French poet called Leo. In English it refers to verse employing an internal rhyme scheme where a word in the middle of the line rhymes with the word at the end of the line e.g 'The splendour falls on castle walls' from Blow, Bugle, Blow by Tennyson.



The maker of dictionaries. According to Samuel Johnson: 'a harmless drudge'.



The particular type of vocabulary used by a person or poet. The words 'wind', 'rain' and 'storm' are an instantly recognisable part of Bob Dylan's lexicon.



The text of an opera. W. H. Auden was a skilled librettist.

Light Poetry


Light poetry, also called light verse, is poetry that attempts to be humorous. Poems considered "light" are usually brief, and can be on a frivolous or serious subject, and often feature wordplay, including puns, adventurous rhyme and heavy alliteration.



Ligne Donnée


Term coined by Paul Valéry to describe a line which is 'given' or 'gifted' to a poet from the Muses/God etc.



A limerick is a five-line, often humorous and ribald poem with a strict meter. Lines 1, 2, and 5 of have seven to ten syllables (three metrical feet) and rhyme with one another. Lines 3 and 4 have five to seven (two metrical feet) syllables and also rhyme with each other. The rhyme scheme is usually "A-A-B-B-A".

Limerick Rhythm

Limericks have a distinct rhythm. The rhythm is as follows:

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM   7-10 syllables   A
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM   7-10 syllables   A
da DUM da da DUM                       5-7 syllables    B
da DUM da da DUM                       5-7 syllables    B
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM    7-10 syllables  A


There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
      But his daughter, named Nan,
      Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.



A basic structural component of a poem. Lines can be written in free form, in syllabic form (e.g. haiku) or in metrical form. In the official classification, metrical lines can vary in length from the monometer (one foot) to the octameter (eight feet).



The scientific study of language and its structure.



A poem that is made up of a list of items or events, usually without transitional phrases. It can be any length and rhymed or unrhymed.


My Junk Drawer

As I struggle to open the drawer,

I find:

4 novels ( unread),

20 batteries (dead),

100 feet of wire,

20 pieces of an electric train set,

1 polyester shirt I got last Christmas,

3 workbooks from fifth grade,

and the reason I can hardly open it:


Literal Language


A form of language in which writers and speakers mean exactly what their words denote. See Figurative language, Denotation, and Connotation.



Concerning the writing or study of literature, especially that of high quality.

Literary Agent


Person who acts on behalf of an author in negotiations with publishers/film makers etc in return for a percentage of final fee. Agents seldom represent poets, however, as there is (regrettably) very little money to be made out of poetry.

Literary Terms


Glossary of literary related terminology; usually broader in scope than a 'Glossary of Poetic Terms'.



General term denoting high quality written work including: poetry, novels, plays, short stories etc. Ezra Pound famously declared that: ' Literature is news that STAYS news.'



In rhetoric, litotes is a figure of speech in which the speaker either strengthens or weakens the emphasis of a claim by denying its opposite. The literal meaning of a litotes is "not X (but not necessarily Y)", and a litotes can be used as an understatement, actually meaning "very much Y," or to express ambivalence. Like many figures of speech, litotes is better understood in some cultural and linguistic contexts than in others.



  • "[…] no ordinary city." Acts 21:39 (NIV)
  • "That [sword] was not useless / to the warrior now." (Beowulf)
  • "O Oedipus, unhappy Oedipus!" (Oedipus the King)
  • "He was not unfamiliar with the works of Dickens."
  • "The food was not bad."
  • "Reaching the moon was no ordinary task."
  • "That was no big deal."
  • "Don't fail me now!"

As a means of saying:

  • "[…] an impressive city."
  • "The sword was useful."
  • "O miserable Oedipus!"
  • "He was well acquainted with the works of Dickens."
  • "The food was good."
  • "Reaching the moon was a fantastic task."
  • "That was nothing."
  • "Help me!"

Little Willie


Form of light verse written in quatrains rhyming a-a-b-b. They concern the exploits of the eponymous disaster-prone hero e.g.

Liverpool Poets


Name given to Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri who came together in Liverpool in the 1960s. They published and performed their own poetry - which was humorous, popular and anti-intellectual. See also performance poetry and underground poets.



Where cliques of authors/poets favourably review each other's work in order to boost sales. See puff.



Poetry featuring a mixed meter and composed of iambs, trochees, dactyls and anapests.



Term coined by Ezra Pound to describe a poem which induces both melopoeia and phanopoeia by 'stimulating the associations (intellectual or emotional) that have remained in the receiver's consciousness in relation to the actual words or word groups employed'.



One of the three modes of persuasion in rhetoric (along with ethos and pathos). Logos is appeal based on logic or reason.

Love Poetry


Poetry which deals with the agony and ecstasy of love e.g. Shakespeare's Sonnets. See also erotic poetry.



U-shaped, stringed instrument (similar to a harp)used in ancient Greece to accompany recited/sung poetry.

Lyre, lir, n. a musical instrument like the harp, anciently used as an accompaniment to poetry.—n.



A poem that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet.



Lyric Poetry


Term originally derived from the Greek word meaning 'for the lyre' and indicating verses that were written to be sung. However, more recently the term 'lyric' has been used to refer to short poems, often written in the 'I' form, where the poet expresses his or her feelings e.g. The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W.B.Yeats or London by William Blake.

Lyrical Ballads


Ground breaking poetry collaboration by Coleridge and Wordsworth, which first appeared in 1798. Subsequent extended versions appeared in 1800, 1801 and 1802. Most of the poems in the collection were written when the two poets lived in Somerset: Coleridge at Nether Stowey and Wordsworth at Alfoxden.