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Norton Anthology Poetry Terms

Accentual Meter
Lines of verse organized by number of stresses rather than by feet or number of syllables. This was the form of poetry written in Old English (which combined stress with alliteration).

Accentual Stress Meter
Lines of verse based on the metrical foot. This is the most common form of English poetry.

Alcaics
a four-line stanza of considerable metrical complexity, named after the ancient Greek poet Alcaeus.

Alliteration
The repetition of sounds in nearby words, most often involving the initial consonants of words (and sometimes the internal consonants in stressed syllables).

Allusion
An indirect reference to a text, myth, event, or person outside the poem itself.

Ambiguity
The ability to mean more than one thing.

Analogy
Resemblance in certain respects between things that are otherwise unlike; also, the use of such likeness to predict other similarities.

Anapest
Two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one, as in “unabridged”

Anaphora
Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive lines.

Assonance
The repetition of vowel sounds in a line or series of lines.

Aubade
A lyric about the dawn

Ballad
A narrative poem, impersonally related, that is (or originally was) meant to be sung. Characterized by repetition and often by a repeated refrain (a recurrent phrase or series of phrases), the earliest ballads were anonymous works transmitted orally from person to person through generations.

Ballad Stanza
A four-line stanza, the second and fourth lines of which are iambic trimeter and rhyme with each other; the first and third lines, in iambic tetrameter, do not rhyme.

Blank Verse
Unrhymed iambic pentameter

Caesura
A sign, used in scansion, that marks a natural pause in speaking a line of poetry.

Concrete Poetry
An attempt to supplement (or replace) verbal meaning with visual devices from painting and sculpture. A true concrete poem cannot be spoken; it is viewed, not read

Confessional Poem
A relatively new (or recently defined) kind of poetry in which the speaker focuses on the poet´s own psychic biography.

Connotation
What is suggested by a word, apart from what it explicitly and directly describes

Controlling Metaphors
Metaphors that dominate or organize an entire poem.

Conventions
Standard ways of saying things in verse, employed to achieve certain expected effects. Conventions may pertain to style or content.

Couplet
A pair of lines, almost always rhyming, that form a unit.

Dactyl
A stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones, as in “screwdriver”

Denotation
The direct and literal meaning of a word or phrase

Dramatic Poetry
Poetry written in the voice of one or more characters assumed by the poet.

Dramatic Monologue
A poem written in the voice of a character, set in a specific situation, and spoken to someone.

Echo
A reference that recalls a word, phrase, or sound in another text.

Elegy
In classical times, any poem on any subject written in “elegiac” meter (dactylic couplets comprising a hexameter followed by a pentameter line), but since the Renaissance usually a formal lament for the death of a particular person.

End Stop
A line break that coincides with the end of the sentence

English (Shakespearean) Sonnet
Three four-line stanzas and a couplet, rhymed abab cdcd efef gg.

Enjambment
The use of a line that “runs on” to the next line, without pause, to complete its grammatical sense

Envoy
A short concluding stanza found in certain poetic forms that often provides a concise summing-up of the poem.

Epic
A long poem, in a continuous narrative often divided into “books,” on a great or serious subject. Traditionally, it celebrates the achievements of mighty heroes and heroines, using elevated language and a grand, high style but later epics have been more personal and less formal in structure.

Epigram
Originally any poem carved in stone but in modern usage a very short, usually witty verse with a quick turn at the end/

Extended Metaphor
Detailed and complex metaphors that extend over a long section of a poem

Feminine Rhyme
Rhymes comprised of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable

Figures of Speech
Uses of a word or words that go beyond the literal meaning to show or imply a relationship, evoking a further meaning.

Foot
The basic unit, consisting of two or three syllables, into which a line is divided in scansion.

Free Verse
Poetry that does not follow the rules of regularized meter and strict form.

Heroic Couplet
A pair of rhymed lines of iambic pentameter.

Iamb
An unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, as in “above”

Image
A mental representation of a particular thing able to be visualized

Irony
A figure in which what is stated is the opposite of what is meant or expected.

Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnet
An octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines); typically rhymed abbaabba cdecde, it has many variations that still reflect the basic division into two parts separated by a rhetorical turn of argument.

Limerick
A five-line light poem, usually in anapestic rhythm. The first, second, and fifth lines are rhymed trimeter; lines three and four are rhymed dimeter. The rhymes are frequently eccentric, and the subject matter is often nonsensical or obscene.

Lyric
Originally a poem meant to be sung to the accompaniment of a lyre. Now, a lyric is the most
common verse form: any fairly short poem in the voice of a single speaker, usually expressing personal concerns rather than describing a narrative or dramatic situation.

Masculine Rhyme
Rhymes that consist of a single stressed syllable. This is the most common form of end rhyme in English

Meditation
A contemplation of some physical object as a way of reflecting upon some larger truth, often (but not necessarily) a spiritual one.

Metaphor
figure of speech that relies on a likeness or analogy between two things to equate them and thus suggest a relationship between them.

Meter
The formal organization of the rhythm of a line into regular patterns

Metonymy
A figure that relies on a close relationship other than similarity in substituting a word or phrase for the thing meant.

Mnemonic Devices
Forms, such as rhyme, built into poems to help reciters remember the poems.

Motif
A recurrent device, formula, or situation that deliberately connects a poem with preexisting patterns
and conventions.

Mythologies
Large systems of belief and tradition on which cultures draw to explain and understand themselves. These are often political or religious, and often become conventional over time

Narrative
Poetry that tells a story and is primarily characterized by linear, chronological description.

Occasional Poem
A poem written about or for a specific occasion, public or private

Ode
An extended lyric, usually elevated in style and with an elaborate stanzaic structure

Off-Rhyme
Rhyme that does not perfectly match in vowel or consonant sound

Onomatopoeia
Use of a word or words the sound of which approximates the sound of the thing denoted

Oxymoron
A figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory words

Parody
A poem that imitates another poem closely, but changes details for comic or critical effect.

Pastoral
A poem that portrays the simple life of country folk, usually shepherds, as a timeless world of beauty, peace, and contentment. From its beginnings pastoral has idealized rural life.

Pattern Poetry
A poem with lines in the shape of the subject of the poem.

Persona
A voice assumed by the author of a poem.

Personification
Treating an abstraction as if it were a person, endowing it with humanlike qualities.

Protest Poem
Treating an abstraction as if it were a person, endowing it with humanlike qualities.

Pyrrhic
Two successive unstressed or lightly stressed syllables

Quantitative Meter
Lines of verse divided into feet, which are scanned by syllable length rather than stress.

Quatrain
A four-line stanza, whether rhymed or unrhymed. This is the most common stanza form in English poetry.

Rhyme
The repetition of the same (“perfect rhyme”) or similar sounds, most often at the ends of lines

Rhyme Royal
A seven-line iambic pentameter stanza, rhymed ababbcc.

Scansion
The analysis of a line of poetry (by “scanning”) to determine its pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, which usually are divided into metrical feet.

Vowel Rhyme
Rhyme words that have only their vowel sounds in common.

Setting
The time and place of the action in a poem.

Simile
A direct, explicit comparison of one thing to another that usually draws the connection with the words “like” or “as.”

Situation
The context of the action in a poem; that is, what is happening when the poem begins

Sonnet
A form, usually only a single stanza, that offers several related possibilities for its rhyme scheme; however, it is always fourteen lines long and usually written in iambic pentameter.

Speaker
The person, not necessarily the author, who is the voice of a poem

Spenserian Sonnet
Three four-line stanzas (interwoven by overlapping rhyme) and a couplet; this sonnet is rhymed abab bcbc cdcd ee.

Spenserian Stanza
Eight lines of iambic pentameter and a ninth line of iambic hexameter, called an alexandrine, rhymed ababbcbbc.

Spondee
A stressed syllable followed by another syllable of approximately equal stress, as in “hot dog”

Stanza
Groups of lines, usually in some predetermined pattern of meter and rhyme, that are set off from one another by a space.

Subject
The general or specific area of concern of a poem

Syllabic Verse
A form in which the poet establishes a precise number of syllables to a line, without regard to their stress, and repeats them in subsequent stanzas.

Symbol
A word or image that stands for something else in a vivid but indeterminate way: it suggests more than what it actually says.

Symbolic Poem
A poem in which the use of symbols is so pervasive and internally consistent that the larger referential world is distanced, if not forgotten.

Synesthesia
Figurative expression of the perception of one sense in terms of another.

Syntax
The formal arrangement of words in a sentence.

Terza Rima
A series of three-line stanzas with interlocking rhymes, (aba, bcb, cdc, ded, etc.)

Theme
The statement a poem makes about its subject.

Tone
The attitude taken in or by a poem toward the subject and theme.

Tradition
A customary practice or a widely accepted way of viewing or representing things; it usually includes many conventions.

Trochee
A stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one, as in “liar”

Zeugma
The use of one word (usually a verb) to “yoke” two or more words to which it applies in different senses

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