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Poetry Terms Beginning With 'T'

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


Poetry Terminology by Letter


Tail-rhyme

Definition

( rime couée ) This is a French form consisting of two rhymes. First there is a rhyming couplet of normally of eight syllables then a third and shorter line. There is another couplet that rhymes with the first one and the sixth, shorter line that rhymes with the third line. This gives us a suggested pattern : aabccb

Example

NA

Tanka

Definition

A Japanese poem of five lines, the first and third composed of five syllables and the others seven. In Japanese, tanka is often written in one straight line, but in English and other languages, we usually divide the lines into the five syllabic units: 5-7-5-7-7.

Each tanka is divided into two segments. The first three lines are the upper phrase, and the last two lines are the lower phrase. The upper phrase typically contains an image, and the lower phrase exposes the poet's ideas about that image. 

Tanka poems are similar to a haiku but have two additional lines and usually feature as its subject very strong emotion or love. Conversely, Haikus are typically about nature. 

Example

Since the nightingale
kept soundless, its song’s echo 
renders mestone deaf.
If it would know my sorrow
would it  maybe sing again?

 

 

Vasile Moldovan

 

 


Saying Goodbye

 

Carefully I walk
Trying so hard to be brave
They all see my fear
Dark glasses cover their eyes
As mine flow over with tears

 

Author Unknown


Mother's silent pain
carved with her dead son in arms
Cold and timeless pain
like the Carrara marble
like our always current sins
Ruben O.
 

 


Tawddgyrch Cadwynog

Definition

Welsh syllabic verse form - similar to a rhupunt.

Tazkira

Definition

Tazkira, biographical anthology, almost always of poetry alone. This is often a mere collection of names with a line or two of information about each poet, followed by specimen of his composition. On the other hand it may be the history of Urdu poetry with copious illustrative extracts. The best tazkiras give biographical details, but fail in literary criticism, and we get little idea of style or poetical power, still less of contents of poems. Even the large anthologies do not systematically review an author's work. Most of them have the names in alphabetical order, but one or two prefer historical order. The majority quote only lyrics, and the quotations, usually chosen at random, do not illustrate poetry.

Telestich

Definition

Similar to an acrostic except that the significant word or phrase is spelt out by the last letters of each line rather than by the first.

Tenor

Definition

See metaphor.

Tension

Definition

Term coined by Allen Tate for the totality of meaning within a poem. It derives from the logical terms 'extension' and 'intension'.

Tercet

Definition

(or Triplet) A stanza comprising of three lines e.g. The Old Familiar Faces by Charles Lamb.

Terza Rima

Definition

Terza rima is a verse form composed of iambic tercets (three-line groupings). The rhyme scheme for this form of poetry is "aba bcb cdc, etc." The second line of each tercet sets the rhyme for the following tercet, and thus supplying the verse with a common thread, a way to link the stanzas. The only time the form changes is at the conclusion of the poem, where the terza rima ends with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet (like d or dd). There is no limit to the number of lines in terza rime.

Example

"Ode to the West Wind."
by Percy Bysshe Shelley's

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintery bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!

Terzain

Definition

A stanza comprising of 3 lines. See also Triplet.

Terzanelle

Definition

A terzanelle (pronounced tur-zuh-nell) is a poetry form which is a combination of the villanelle and the terza rima. It is nineteen lines total, with five triplets and a concluding quatrain. It uses the interlocked rhyme pattern of a terza rima but in the villanelle’s form of five triplets and a quatrain.

Example

This is Lewis Turco's "Terzanelle in Thunderweather"

This is the moment when shadows gather
under the elms, the cornices and eaves.
This is the center of thunderweather.

The birds are quiet among these white leaves
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily
under the elms, the cornices, and eaves--

these are our voices speaking guardedly
about the sky, of the sheets of lightning
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily

into our lungs, across our lips, tightening
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark
about the sky, of the sheets of lightening

that illuminate moments. In the stark
shades we inhibit, there are no words for
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark

of things we cannot say, cannot ignore.
This is the moment when shadows gather,
shades we inhibit. There are no words, for
this is the center of thunderweather.


Tetractys

Definition

Tetractys, a poetic form consisting of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllables (total of 20). Tetractys can be written with more than one verse, but must follow suit with an inverted syllable count. Tetractys can also be reversed and written 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. Double Tetractys maybe written as: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, and a Triple Tetractys as: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 10.

Example

Snowflakes

White
snowflakes
crystal clear
sparkling loftily
daybreaks light shines forth the brilliance

As daybreaks light dusks the hillcrest ledge edge
sunshine melts around
clear glitter
snowflakes
white

Peggy Bertrand
Copyright 02-18-2002


Tetrameter

Definition

A tetrameter is a line of four metrical feet.

Example

  • Anapestic tetrameter:
  • "And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea" (Byron, "The Destruction of Sennacherib")

  • Iambic tetrameter:
  • "Because I could not stop for Death" (Emily Dickinson)

  • Trochaic tetrameter:
  • "Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater" (English nursery rhyme)

  • Dactylic tetrameter:
  • Picture your self in a boat on a river with [...] (The Beatles, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds")


    Tetrastich

    Definition

    See quatrain.

    Tetrasyllables

    Definition

    Tetrasyllables have four syllables in a foot.

    Than-Bauk

    Definition

    A Than-Bauk, conventionally a witty saying or epigram, is a three line "climbing rhyme" poem of Burmese origin. Each line has four syllables. The rhyme is on the fourth syllable of the first line, the third syllable of the second line, and the second syllable of the third line.

    Example

    Lighten Up

    Turn on the lights;
    don't let sights of
    dark nights haunt you.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Cold

    The night was cold
    so I'm told when
    the old man died.

    © Copyright Suzanne Honour 2002-2003


    Theme

    Definition

    The main idea, thesis or subject matter of a poem. Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn, for example, deals with the permanence of art and the impermanence of life.

    Threnody

    Definition

    Poem of lamentation. See elegy.

    Toddaid

    Definition

    Welsh syllabic verse form. See awdl.

    Tone

    Definition

    The author's attitude to the subject as revealed in the style and the manner of the writing. This might be for instance serious, comic, or ironic.

    Topographical Poetry

    Definition

    The poetic equivalent of landscape painting e.g. Pope's Windsor Forest or Gray's Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. A more modern example of the genre is Remains of Elmet by Ted Hughes which was a collaboration with the photographer Fay Godwin.

    Tornada

    Definition

    See envoi.

    Tradition

    Definition

    Poetry/literature which is handed down from previous generations (usually in the same native language) and which provides an influence/framework for subsequent poets. See canon.

    Translation

    Definition

    The process of translating poetry written in one language into another language. This is a notoriously difficult exercise due to the condensed language of poetry, the prevalence of figures of speech and the problem of finding equivalent rhymes.

    Triad

    Definition

    The strophe, antistrophe and epode of a Pindaric ode. See ode.

    Tribe of Ben

    Definition

    Group of poets including: Herrick, Carew, Suckling, Lovelace, Randolph and Godolphin who emulated Ben Jonson. See Cavalier poets.

    Tribrach

    Definition

    Classical meter consisting of three short syllables per foot. Such a foot would be extremely rare in English poetry.

    Trimeter

    Definition

    A trimeter is a metre of three metrical feet per line

    Example

    When here // the spring // we see,
    Fresh green // upon // the tree.

    Triolet

    Definition

    A French verse form. Its rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB and all lines are in iambic tetrameter; the first, fourth and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines, thereby making the initial and final couplets identical as well. The features of the Triolet are: 8 lines. Two rhymes. 5 of the 8 lines are repeated or refrain lines. First line repeats at the 4th and 7th lines. Second line repeats at the 8th line. Rhyme scheme (where an upper-case letter indicates the appearance of an identical line, while a lower-case letter indicates a rhyme with each line designated by the same lower-case or upper-case letter)

    Example

    "Birds At Winter"

    Around the house the flakes fly faster,
    And all the berries now are gone'
    From holly and cotoneaster
    Around the house. The flakes fly! – faster
    Shutting indoors the crumb-outcaster
    We used to see upon the lawn
    Around the house. The Flakes fly faster
    And all the berries now are gone!
    Thomas Hardy

    Triplet/Tercet

    Definition

    A stanza comprising of three lines e.g. The Old Familiar Faces by Charles Lamb.

    tristich

    Definition

    A tristich is simply a poem that consists of exactly three lines. Traditionally, it is an ancient three line parallel verse much used in Hebrew Biblical poetry style. 


    Trisyllable

    Definition

    (or trisyllabic) - words with three syllables

    Example

    Poetry

    Trisyllables

    Definition

    Trisyllables have two syllables in a foot.

    Tritina

    Definition

    The Tritina is a modern form created by cutting down the Sestina. Like a Sestina this form repeats the end words of each stanza. The form is made up of three triplets these use an end word order of 1-2-3,3-1-2,2-3-1. After the triplets comes an envoi constructed from a single line. All four end words must appear in this envoi in the order 1-2-3.

      1 2 3          - End words of lines in first tercet.
      3 1 2          - End words of lines in second tercet.
      2 3 1          - End words of lines in third tercet.
      (1 2 3)        - Words contained in the final line.

    Example

    Tritina for Susannah

    By David Yezzi

    The water off these rocks is green and cold.
    The sandless coast takes the tide in its mouth,
    as a wolf brings down a deer or lifts its child.
     
    I walked this bay before you were my child.
    Your fingers stinging brightly in the cold,
    I take each one and warm it in my mouth.
     
    Though I’ve known this shore for years, my mouth
    holds no charms of use to you, my child.
    You will have to learn the words to ward off cold
     
    and know them cold, child, in your open mouth. 

    Trochaic

    Definition

    (or Trochee) A foot in with one accented syllable followed by one unaccented syllable

    Example

    only, total

    Trochaic (trochee)

    Definition

    A foot in with one accented syllable followed by one unaccented syllable

    Example

    only, total

    Trochee

    Definition

    A foot consisting of two syllables where the first one is long or stressed and the second is short or unstressed e.g. as in 'FALLing'.

    Trope

    Definition

    The figurative use of language - as in simile and metaphor.

    Troubadours

    Definition

    Group of 12th and 13th century French Provençal poets including Jaufre Rudel, Arnaut Daniel and Bernart de Ventadorn. They invented a wide range of complex verse forms (see French forms) and frequently wrote about 'courtly' love.

    Trouvères

    Definition

    Group of northern French poets who composed during the 12th and 13th centuries and who were influenced by the troubadours (see above). The group included poets such as Gâce Brulé and Blondel de Nesle.

    Truncated Line

    Definition

    (or Truncation) See catalectic.

    Tumbling Verse

    Definition

    See Skeltonic.

    Tyburn

    Definition

    A tyburn is a six line poem consisting of 2,2,2,2,9,9 syllables. The first four lines rhyme and are all descriptive words. The last two lines rhyme and incorporate the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines as the 5th to 8th syllables.

    Example

    Ugly, hairy, filthy, dirty, scavenging beast, ugly, hairy, fat, spreader of plague, filthy, dirty rat.