36 Poetry Terms
Poetry is an area of writing that has a language all of its own, as contributors to the recent poetry competition will be aware. The following are some of the terms specific to the writing of poetry :
A repeated sound, usually applied only to consonants.
A metrical foot : two short/unstressed syllables followed by one long/stressed syllable (dee-dee-DUM – e.g. “energize”).
A repeated vowel sound.
A narrative poem in short stanzas, especially one that tells a popular story.
Verse that doesn’t rhyme (often iambic pentameter).
A pause in the middle of a line, often indicated by punctuation
A witty, biographical poem of four lines (two rhyming couplets).
A pair of successive lines of verse, especially when riming together and of the same length.
A metrical foot : one long/stressed syllable followed by two short/unstressed syllables (DUM-dee-dee – e.g. “poetry”).
doggerel A word applied to verse of irregular rhythm, trivial content and inappropriate diction. Much comic verse is deliberately written as doggerel.
A poem mourning the dead.
Deliberate omission of unstressed syllables, typically in order to maintain a rhythm – e.g. “o’er” for “over”.
the lack of a pause between two lines of a poem
The unit of poetic rhythm; a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
Verse that follows no particular form, metre or rhyme scheme.
Seventeen syllable poems, generally split into three lines of five, seven and five syllables, often with a theme related to nature.
A rhyme where two words have similar consonant sounds but different vowel sounds – e.g. “hell” and “hill”. Also called a slant rhyme or an imperfect rhyme.
A rhyming pair of iambic pentameter lines.
A poem in which the lines have six metrical feet. (And so forth : dimeter = 2 feet, trimeter = 3 feet, tetrameter = 4 feet, heptameter = 7 feet etc.)
A metrical foot : a short/unstressed syllable followed by a long/stressed syllable (dee-DUM – e.g. “today”).
A rhyme within the words of a line.
The rhythm of poetry; the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables
A dignified, lyric poem expressing praise or some other elevated notion.
Poetry dealing with rural life.
A line that has five metrical feet.
quatrain A four line stanza.
(And so forth : quintain, sestet, septain etc.)
A repeated sound, usually at line endings.
The pattern of rhyming line-endings in a poem – e.g. “abab” means each stanza has four lines, with lines one and three rhyming with each other (rhyme “a”) and also lines two and four rhyming with each other (rhyme “b”)
sonnet A 14 line poem, of which there are various forms (Shakespearean, Spenserian etc.)
A metrical foot : two long/stressed syllables (DUM-DUM – e.g. “heartbreak”).
A a group of metrical lines or verses, usually no fewer than four, arranged in a certain pattern. A stanza is often called a “verse”.
A stressed syllable at the end of a line.
A set or group of three lines bound by rhyme.
A metrical foot : a long/stressed syllable followed by a short/unstressed syllable (DUM-dee – e.g. “poem”).
Ending a line on an unstressed syllable.
A rhyming word whose pronunciation is altered in order to force it into a rhyme scheme
This is far from a complete list : an exhaustive glossary would fill many pages. But it does contain some of the main terms used by poets to discuss their work.
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