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Ap English Poetry Terms

theme
the central idea of a poem

denotation
the dictionary meaning of a word

connotation
what a word suggests beyond what it expresses; its overtones of meaning

imagery
the representation through language of sense experience

figure of speech
any way of saying something other than the ordinary way; a way of saying one thing and meaning another

figurative language
language using figures of speech; should not be take literally

simile
a means of comparing things that are essentially unlike; the comparison is expressed by a word or phrase (is, as, like)

metaphor
a means of comparing things that are essentially unlike; the comparison is not expressed but is created when a figurative term is substituted for the literal term

personification
giving the attributes of a human to an animal, an object or a concept

apostrophe
addressing someone absent, dead or nonhuman as if it was alive and could respond

synecdoche
comparing unlike things; the use of a part for the whole

metonymy
comparing unlike things; the use of something closely related for the thing actually meant

symbol
something that means more than what it is

allegory
a narrative or description that has a second meaning beneath the surface

paradox
an apparent contradiction that is nevertheless somehow true

overstatement or hyperbole
exaggeration used in the service of truth

understatement
saying less than one means (in what is said, or in how it is said)

irony
a situation or a use of language involving some kind of incongruity or discrepancy

verbal irony
saying the opposite of what one means

sarcasm
bitter or cutting speech intending to wound others’ feelings

satire
ridicule of human folly or vice with the purpose of bringing about reform

irony of situation
a discrepancy between the actual circumstances and those that would seem appropriate or between what one anticipates and what comes to pass

allusion
a reference to something in history or previous literature

total meaning
the experience a poem communicates

prose meaning
the part of a poem’s total meaning that can be separated out and expressed through paraphrase

tone
the writer’s or speaker’s attitude toward the subject, the reader or herself or himself

alliteration
the repetition of initial consonant sounds

assonance
the repetition of vowel sounds

consonance
the repetition of final consonant sounds

rhyme
the repetition of the accented vowel sound and any succeeding consonant sounds.

masculine rhyme
when a rhyme involves only one syllable

feminine rhyme
when a rhyme involves two or more syllables

internal rhyme
when one or more rhyming words are within the line

end rhyme
when one or more rhyming words are at the ends of lines

approximate rhyme (slant rhyme)
words with any kind of sound similarity

rhythm
wavelike reoccurance of motion or sound; the natural rise and fall of language

accented (stressed)
in words with more than one syllable, at least one syllable is given more prominence in pronunciation

rhetorical stresses
in natural speech, the stressing of words or syllables so as to emphasize meaning and sentence structure

end-stopped line
the end of the line corresponds with a natural speech pause

run-on line
where the line runs on without pause into the next line

caesuras
grammatical or rhetorical pauses that occur within the line

free verse
nonmetrical poetry in which the basic rhythmic unit is the line, and in which pauses, line breaks, and formal patterns develop organically from the requirements of the individual poem rather than from established poetic forms

prose poem
usually a short composition having the intentions of poetry but written in prose rather than verse

meter
the identifying characteristic of rhythmic language that we can tap our feet to

foot
the basic unit of meter; normally one accented syllable plus one or two unaccented syllables or maybe none

stanza
consists of a group of lines whose metrical pattern is repeated throughout the poem in the same amount of lines

metrical variations
departures from the basic metrical pattern

substitution
replacing the regular foot with another one

extrametrical syllables
extra unaccented syllables added at the beginning or end of lines

truncation
the omission of an unaccented syllable at either end of a line

scansion
the process of defining the metrical form of a poem

grammatical pause
a pause introduced into the reading of a line by a mark of punctuation

rhetorical pause
a natural pause, unmarked by punctuation, introduced into the reading of a line by its phrasing or syntax

blank verse
unrhymed iambic pentameter

phonetic intensives
words whose sounds to some degree connects with their meaning

onomatopoeia
the use of words that sound like what they mean

euphony
smooth and pleasant sounding

cacophony
rough and harsh sounding

structure
the internal ordering of materials; the arrangement of ideas, images, thoughts, and sentences

form
external shape; an external pattern of a poem

continuous form
a form of a poem in which the lines follow each other without formal grouping, the only breaks being dictated by units of meaning

stanzaic form
a form in a series of stanzas: with repeated units having the same number of lines, the same metrical pattern and an identical rhyme scheme

fixed form
a form of poem in which the length and pattern are prescribed by previous usage or tradition (sonnet, villanelle)

sonnet
14 lines in length and in iambic pentameter. Can be Italian (Petrarchan) or English (Shakespearean)

Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet
a sonnet consisting of an ovtave rhyming abbaabba and of a sestet using any arrangement of two or three additional rhymes

octave
1) and 8 lined stanza 2) the first 8 lines of a sonnet, usually the Italian model

sestet
1) a 6 lined stanza 2) the last 6 lines of a sonnet, usually the Italian model

Shakespearean (English) sonnet
a sonnet rhyming asascdcdefefgg. Its cotent or structure ideally parallels the rhyme scheme, falling into 3 coordinate quatrains and a concluding couplet; but it can be structured in an octave and a sestet as well.

villanelle
a 19 lined fixed form consisting of 5 tercets rhymed aba and a concluding quatrain rhymed abaa, with lines 1 and 3 of the first terect serving as refrains in an alternating pattern through line 15 and repeated in 18 and 19

sentimentality
indulgence in emotion for its own sake; expression of more emotion that an occasion warrants

rhetorical poetry
uses a language more glittering and high-flown that its substance warrants.

didactic poetry
poetry with a primary purpose to teach or preach

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