from the essential poetry web site,“Bob’s Byway: A Poetic Diversion”
reproduced with permission for educational use only
ABCEDARIAN POEM (ay-bee-see-DARE-ee-un)
A poem having verses beginning with the successive letters of the alphabet. (Compare Acrostic Poem, Serpentine Verses) ACATALECTIC
A verse having the metrically complete number of syllables in the final foot. (Compare Catalectic, Hypercatalectic)
The rhythmically significant stress in the articulation of words, giving some syllables more relative prominance than others. In words of two or more syllables, one syllable is almost invariably stressed more strongly than the other syllables. Words of one syllable may be either stressed or unstressed, depending on the context in which they are used, but connective one-syllable words like, and, but, or, to, etc., are generally unstressed. The words in a line of poetry are usually arranged so the accents occur at regular intervals, with the meter defined by the placement of the accents within the foot. Accent should not be construed as emphasis.
• Sidelight: Two degrees of accent are natural to many multisyllabic English words, designated as primary and secondary.
• Sidelight: When a syllable is accented, it tends to be raised in pitch and lengthened. Any or a combination of stress/pitch/length can be a metrical accent.
• Sidelight: When the full accent falls on a vowel, as in PO-tion, that vowel is called a long vowel; when it falls on an articulation or consonant, as in POR-tion, the preceding vowel is a short vowel.
(See also Cadence, Ictus, Modulation, Rhythm, Sprung Rhythm) (Compare Caesura)
Verse in which the metrical system is based on the count or pattern of accented syllables in the natural rhythm of the languages in which words are accentual in character. The total number of syllables may vary.
• Sidelight: Most modern English poetry is a combination of accentual and syllabic verse.
(Contrast Quantitive Verse )
A poem in which certain letters of the lines, usually the first letters, form a word or message relating to the subject.
• Sidelight: Of ancient origin, examples of acrostic poems date back as far as the fourth century.
(Compare Abcedarian Poem, Serpentine Verses)
A verse consisting of a dactyl followed by a spondee or trochee. It is believed to be so named because of its use in songs during the Adonia, an ancient festival in honor of Adonis.
• Sidelight: The festival of Adonia was celebrated by women, who spent two days alternating between lamentation and feasting.
(See also Sapphic Verse)
See Horatian Ode
A creative inspiration, as that of a poet; a divine imparting of knowledge, thus it is often called divine afflatus. (See also Helicon, Muse, Numen)
A Greek lyrical meter, said to be invented by Alcaeus, a lyric poet from about 600 B.C. Written in tetrameter, the greater Alcaic consists of a spondee or iamb followed by an iamb plus a long syllable and two dactyls. The lesser Alcaic, also in tetrameter, consists of two dactylic feet followed by two iambic feet.
• Sidelight: Though seldom appearing in English poetry, Alcaic verse was used by Tennyson in his ode to Milton.
An iambic line of twelve syllables, or six feet, usually with a caesura after the sixth syllable. It is the standard line in French poetry, comparable to the iambic pentameter line in English poetry. It probably received its name from an old French romance, Alexandre le Grand, written about 1180, in which the measure was first used. (See Hexameter, Poulter’s Measure, Spenserian Stanza)
A figurative illustration of truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience in a narrative or description by the use of symbolic fictional figures and actions which resemble the subject’s properties and circumstances.
• Sidelight: Though similar to both a series of symbols and an extended metaphor, the meaning of an allegory is more direct and less subject to ambiguity than a symbol; it is distinguishable from an extended metaphor in that the literal equivalent of an allegory’s figurative comparison is not usually expressed.
• Sidelight: Probably the best-known allegory in English literature is Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queene.
(Compare Aphorism, Apologue, Didactic Poetry, Epigram, Fable, Gnome, Proverb) (See also Metaphor, Personification) ALLITERATION
Also called head rhyme or initial rhyme, the repetition of the initial sounds (usually consonants) of stressed syllables in neighboring words or at short intervals within a line or passage, usually at word beginnings, as in “wild and woolly” or the line from the poem, Darkness Lost:
From somewhere far beyond, the flag of fate’s caprice unfurled,
• Sidelight: The sounds of alliteration produce a gratifying effect to the ear and can also serve as a subtle connection or emphasis of key words in the line, but should not “call attention” to themselves by strained usage.
(See also Euphony, Modulation, Resonance, Sound Devices)
(Compare Assonance, Consonance, Rhyme, Sigmatism)
Poetry in which alliteration is a formal structural element in place of rhyme; it was prevalent in a number of old literatures prior to the 14th century, including Anglo-Saxon. In alliterative verse, the first half-line is united with the second half by alliterating stressed syllables; in the first half-line generally two (but sometimes three) syllables alliterate, while in the second half usually only one. Sometimes one alliterating sound is carried through successive lines:
In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne, I shoop me into shroudes as I a sheep were, In habite as an heremite unholy of werkes, Wente wide in this world wondres to here.
--The Vision of Piers Plowman, by William Langland, 1330?-1400?
• Sidelight: To facilitate maintaining the alliterative pattern, poets made frequent use of a specialized vocabulary, consisting of many synonymous words seldom encountered outside of alliterative verse.
• Sidelight: By the 14th century, rhyme and meter displaced alliteration as a formal element, although alliterative verse continued to be written into the 16th century and alliteration retains an important function as one of a poet’s sound devices.
An implied or indirect reference to something assumed to be known, such as an historical event or personage or a well-known quotation from literature.
• Sidelight: An allusion can be used by the poet as a means of imagery, since, like a symbol, it can suggest ideas by connotation; its effectiveness, of course, depends upon the reader’s acquaintance with the reference alluded to.
Applied to words and expressions, the state of being doubtful or indistinct in meaning or capable of being understood in more than one way. (See also Denotation, Paronomasia, Pun) (Compare Connotation)
A metrical foot consisting of a long or accented syllable between two short or unaccented syllables, as condition or infected. AMPHIGOURI
A verse composition which, while apparently coherent, contains no sense or meaning, as in the opening lines of Nephelidia, a poem written as a parody of his own alliterative-predominant style, by the English Poet, A. C. Swinburne:
From the depth of the dreamy decline of the dawn through a notable nimbus of nebulous noonshine, Pallid and pink as the palm of the flag-flower that flickers with fear of the flies as they float,
(See also Macaronic Verse, Nonsense Poetry)
The substitution of different measures to break up the rhythm.
A poem in the style of the Greek poet, Anacreon, convivial in tone or theme, relating to the praise of love and wine.
• Sidelight: Of tangential interest to this entry, Francis Scott Key’s 1814 poem, The Star-Spangled Banner, later to become the U.S. national anthem, was set to the tune of a popular song of the day composed by John Stafford Smith, To Anacreon in Heaven.
One or more unaccented syllables at the beginning of a line of verse that are regarded as preliminary to and not part of the metrical pattern. (See also Procephalic) (Compare Feminine Ending)
The repetition of a prominent (usually the final) word of a phrase or clause at the beginning of the next, often with extended or altered meaning, as in: “His hands were folded -- folded in prayer.” (Compare Anaphora, Echo, Epistrophe, Epizeuxis, Incremental Repetition, Parallelism, Polysyndeton, Refrain, Stornello Verses)
ANAGOGE or ANAGOGY (AN-uh-go-jee)
The spiritual or mystical interpretation of a word or passage beyond the literal, allegorical or moral sense.
ANALECTS or ANALECTA
Miscellaneous extracts collected from the works of authors.
An agreement or similarity in some particulars between things otherwise different; sleep and death, for example, are analogous in that they both share a lack of animation and a recumbent posture.
• Sidelight: Prevelant in literature, the use of an analogy carries the inference that if things agree in some respects, it’s likely that they will agree in others.
A metrical foot with two short or unaccented syllables followed by a long or accented syllable, as in intervene or for a while. (See an example of anapestic trimeter under Scan)
The repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of successive phrases for rhetorical or poetic effect, as in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:
We cannot dedicate-we cannot consecrate-we cannot hallow this ground.
(See also Epistrophe) (Compare Anadiplosis, Echo, Epizeuxis, Incremental Repetition, Parallelism, Polysyndeton, Refrain, Stornello Verses)
The inversion of the natural or usual syntactical order of words for rhetorical or poetic effect, as “inspired he was” for “he was inspired.” (Compare Antistrophe, Chiasmus, Hypallage)
See under Stanza
A metrical foot consisting of two long syllables followed by a short syllable.
The ironic or humorous use of words in a sense not in accord with their literal meaning, as in “a giant of three feet four inches.”
A metrical foot consisting of two long syllables between two short syllables.
The second division in the triadic structure of Pindaric verse, corresponding metrically to the strophe; also, the stanza following or alternating with and responding to the strophe in ancient lyric poetry; also, in rhetoric, the reversal of terms mutually dependent on each other, as from “the captain of the crew” to “the crew of the captain.” (See also Epode) (Compare Anastrophe)
A figure of speech in which a thought is balanced with a contrasting thought in parallel arrangements of words and phrases, such as “He promised wealth and provided poverty,” or “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .” or “Give me performance, not promises.” Also, the second of two contrasting or opposing constituents, following the thesis.
The use of a name, epithet or title in place of a proper name, as Bard for Shakespeare. (Compare Cataphora, Metonymy)
One of two or more words that have opposite meanings.
(Compare Homonym, Paronym, Synonym)
APHAERESIS or APHERESIS (uh-FEHR-uh-sus)
A type of elision in which a letter or syllable is omitted at the beginning of a word, as ‘twas for it was. (Compare Apocope, Syncope, Synaeresis, Synaloepha) (See also Aphesis)
A form of aphaeresis in which the syllable omitted is short and unaccented, as in round for around.
A brief statement containing an important truth or fundamental principle. (Compare Allegory, Apologue, Didactic Poetry, Epigram, Fable, Gnome, Proverb)
A type of elision in which a letter or syllable is omitted at the end of a word, as in morn for morning. (Compare Aphaeresis, Syncope, Synaeresis, Synaloepha)
An allegorical narrative, usually intended to convey a moral or a useful truth. (Compare Allegory, Aphorism, Didactic Poetry, Epigram, Fable, Gnome, Proverb)
Stopping short of a complete thought for effect, thus calling attention to it, usually by a sudden breaking off, as in “He acted like--but I pretended not to notice”, leaving the unsaid portion to the reader’s imagination. Another example can be found in the final line of the poem, Aftertaste. (See Ellipsis)
A figure of speech in which an address is made to an absent person or a personified thing rhetorically, as in, “O death, where is thy sting?” An apostrophe is also a punctuation mark used to indicate the omission of letter(s) in an elision, aphaeresis or syncope. (Compare Prosopopeia)
A region or scene characterized by idyllic quiet and simplicity, often chosen as a setting for pastoral poetry, from Arcadia, a picturesque region in ancient Greece. (See also Bucolic, Eclogue, Eidillion, Idyll, Madrigal)
A word or expression no longer in general use, for example, thou mayst is an archaism meaning, “you may.”
• Sidelight: Archaisms are often deliberately used for effect.
The accented or longer part of a poetic foot; the point where an ictus is put.
• Sidelight: In classical prosody the arsis was the unaccented or shorter part of a foot, but a misunderstanding which occurred in the definitions of poetic feet caused the meaning to become reversed.
The relatively close juxtaposition of the same or similar vowel sounds, but with different end consonants in a line or passage, thus a vowel rhyme, as in the words, date and fade. (See also Euphony, Near Rhyme, Resonance, Sound Devices) (Compare Alliteration, Consonance, Modulation, Rhyme)
The omission of conjunctions that ordinarily join coordinate words and phrases, as in “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
A song or poem greeting the dawn or about lovers parting at dawn.
The innovating artists or writers who promote the use of new or experimental concepts or techniques. (See Imagism, Impressionism, Objectivism, Realism, Symbolism)
A poet without love were a physical and metaphysical impossibility.
Look, then, into thine heart, and write!
---Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
BACCHIUS ( ba-KEE-us)
In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of a short syllable followed by two long syllables.
A short narrative poem with stanzas of two or four lines and usually a refrain. The story of a ballad can originate from a wide range of subject matter but most frequently deals with folk-lore or popular legends. They are written in straight-forward verse, seldom with detail, but always with graphic simplicity and force. Most ballads are suitable for singing and, while sometimes varied in practice, are generally written in ballad meter, i.e., alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, with the last words of the second and fourth lines rhyming.
• Sidelight: Many old-time ballads were written and performed by minstrels attached to noblemen’s courts. Folk ballads are of unknown origin and are usually lacking in artistic finish. Meant to be sung, but often studied as poetry, the texts are independent of the melodies, which are often used for a number of different ballads. Because they are handed down by oral tradition, folk ballads are subject to variations and continual change. Literary ballads, combining the natures of epic and lyric poetry, are written by known authors in the style and form of the folk ballad.
(See also Broadside Ballad, Lay, Tragedy) (Compare Chanson de Geste, Epopee, Epos, Heroic Quatrain)
Frequently represented in French poetry, a fixed form consisting of three seven or eight-line stanzas using no more than three recurrent rhymes with an identical refrain after each stanza and a closing envoi repeating the rhymes of the last four lines of the stanza. A variation containing six stanzas is called a double ballade.
• Sidelight: The ballade was prominent in French literature from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century and was favored by many poets, including Francois Villon. In the nineteenth century it was popular with poets like Verlaine and Baudelaire. In English literature, Chaucer wrote ballades and some late-nineteenth century poets also used the form.
(Compare Chant Royal)
An ancient composer, singer or declaimer of epic verse.
• Sidelight: Today the term is popularly applied to poets of significant repute as a title of honor, with William Shakespeare being known as “The Bard of Avon” and Robert Burns as “The Bard of Ayrshire.”
(See also Metrist, Poet, Sonneteer, Versifier, Wordsmith) (Compare Minstrel, Troubadour)
The ludicrous descent from a lofty level of writing or speech to the commonplace, often used in poetry for effect, as “Assailed by tempest-stricken waves, he sank like a stone.” (Compare Pathos)
Poetry written without rhymes, but which retains a set metrical pattern, usually iambic pentameter (or five iambic feet per line) in English verse. Since it is a very flexible form, the writer not being hampered in the expression of thought by the need to rhyme, it is used extensively in narrative and dramatic poetry. In lyric poetry, blank verse is adaptable to lengthy descriptive and meditative poems. An example of blank verse is found in the well-known lines from Act IV, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice:
The qua | lity | of mer | cy is | not strain’d It drop | peth as | the gen | tle rain | from heaven Upon | the place | beneath; | it is | twice blessed: It bles | seth him | that gives | and him | that takes.
• Sidelight: Blank verse and free verse are often misunderstood or confused. A good way to remember the difference is to think of the word blank as meaning that the ends of the lines where rhymes would normally appear are “blank,” i.e., devoid of rhyme; the free in free verse refers to the freedom from fixed patterns of traditional versification.
An 18th century parlor game in which a list of rhyming words was drawn up and handed to the players, who had to make a poem from the list keeping the rhymes in their original order. (See also Crambo)
A ballad written in doggerel, printed on a single piece of paper and sold for a penny or two on English street corners in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The name of the tune to which they were to be sung was indicated on the sheet. The subject matter of broadside ballads covered a wide range of current, historical or simply curious events and also extended to moral exhortations and religious propaganda.
• Sidelight: The rogue, Autolycus, in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, is a peddler whose wares include broadside ballads.
A rhyme produced by dividing a word at the line break to make a rhyme with the end word of another line. In Hopkins’ The Windhover, for example, he divided kingdom at the end of the first line to rhyme with the word wing ending the fourth line.
A poem dealing with a pastoral subject. (See also Arcadia, Eclogue, Eidillion, Idyll, Madrigal)
The central topic or principle idea, often repeated in a refrain. (See also Motif, Theme)
A work which is intended to ridicule by the use of grotesque exaggeration or by the treatment of a trifling subject with the gravity due a matter of great importance. (See also Hudibrastic Verse, Lampoon, Parody, Pasquinade, Satire) (Compare Antiphrasis, Irony) CACOPHONY (cack-AH-fun-ee)
Discordant sounds in the jarring juxtaposition of harsh letters or syllables, sometimes used in poetry for effect, as in the opening line of Fences:
Crawling, sprawling, breaching spokes of stone,
• Sidelight: Sound devices are important to poetic effects; to create sounds appropriate to the content, the poet may sometimes prefer to achieve a cacophonous effect instead of the more commonly sought-for euphony. The use of words with the consonants b, k and p, for example, produce harsher sounds than the soft f and v or the liquid l, m and n.
(See also Dissonance) (Contrast Euphony)
The recurrent rhythmical pattern in lines of verse; also, the natural tone or modulation of the voice determined by the alternation of accented or unaccented syllables.
• Sidelight: Cadence differs from meter in that it is not necessarily regular.
(See also Accent, Ictus, Sprung Rhythm, Stress) (Compare Caesura)
A rhythmic break or pause in the flow of sound which is commonly introduced in about the middle of a line of verse, but may be varied for different effects. Usually placed between syllables rhythmically connected in order to aid the recital as well as to convey the meaning more clearly, it is a pause dictated by the sense of the content or by natural speech patterns, rather than by metrics. It may coincide with conventional punctuation marks, but not necessarily. A caesura within a line is indicated in scanning by the symbol (||), as in the first line of Emily Dickinson’s, I’m Nobody:
I’m no | body- || who are | you?
• Sidelight: A caesura occurring at the end of a line is not marked in the scanning process.
• Sidelight: The classical caesura was a break caused by the ending of a word within a foot.
(See Diaeresis) (See also Alexandrine, Hemistich) (Compare Accent, Cadence, Rhythm)
A major division of a long or extended poem. A canto of a poem corresponds to a chapter of a novel. (Compare Stanza)
A medieval Italian or Provencal lyric poem of varying stanzaic form, usually with a concluding envoi. (Compare Ghazal, Melic Verse, Ode, Romance, Society Verse)
Misuse or abuse of words; the use of the wrong word for the context, as atone for repent, ingenuous for ingenious, or a forced trope in which a word is used too far removed from its true meaning, as “loud aroma” or “velvet beautiful to the touch.” (See also Enallage, Malapropism, Mixed Metaphor, Oxymoron, Paradox, Solecism, Synesthesia)
Metrically incomplete; the dropping of one or two unaccented syllables from the end of a line, thus ending with an incomplete foot.
• Sidelight: In versification, catalexis necessarily occurs in the lines of trochaic and dactylic verse which require a final accented syllable for a rhyme.
(Compare Acatalectic, Hypercatalectic)
A poem comprised of a list of persons, places, things, or abstract ideas which share a common denominator. An ancient form, it was originally a type of didactic poetry.
The use of a grammatical substitute (like a pronoun) which has the same reference as the next word or phrase, as in, “Before him John saw a sea of smiling faces.”
(Compare Antonomasia, Metonymy)
See Tail Rhyme
Poetry made up of lines borrowed from a combination of established authors, usually resulting in a change in meaning and a humorous effect. (Compare Parody, Pastiche)
CHANSON DE GESTE (shan-SAWN duh ZHEST))
Literally, a song of heroic deeds, it refers to a class of Old French epic poems of the Middle Ages, such as the Chanson de Roland, believed to have been written by the Norman poet, Turold. (See Trouvere) (See also Epic, Epopee, Epos, Heroic Quatrain) (Compare Ballad, Narrative, Tragedy)
An elaborate form of ballade in old French poetry, consisting of five stanzas of eleven lines, an envoi of eight lines and five rhymes. The rhyme scheme is usually ababccddede.
A small book or pamphlet containing ballads, poems, popular tales or tracts, etc.
See Rhyme Royal
An inverted relationship between the syntactic elements of parallel phrases, as in “do not eat to live, but live to eat”, or Goldsmith’s “to stop too fearful, and too faint to go.”
(Compare Anastrophe, Hypallage)
A rare form of trochee, also written as choreus.
In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of four syllables, the first two forming a trochee and the second two an iambus, as in “bottomless pit” or “roses are red.”
See Pindaric Verse
A five-line stanza of syllabic verse, the successive lines containing two, four, six, eight and two syllables. The cinquain, based on the Japanese haiku, was an innovation of Adelaide Crapsey, a minor American Poet. (See also Quintet)
The adherence to traditional standards that are universally valid and enduring. (Compare Idealism, Imagism, Impressionism, Metaphysical, Objectivism, Realism, Romanticism, Symbolism)
A light verse two couplets in length rhyming aabb, usually dealing with a person named in the initial rhyme. It was named for its originator, Edmund Clerihew Bentley, an English writer.
A couplet in which the sense and syntax is self-contained within its two lines, as opposed to an open couplet. (See also Distich, Heroic Couplet)
A meter consisting chiefly of iambic lines of seven accents each arranged in rhymed pairs, usually in a four-line stanza. It is also called common meter.
A meter of four-line stanzas of tetrameter verse is called a long meter (L.M.). A meter of four-line stanzas in which the first, second and fourth are trimeter and the third tetrameter is called a short meter (S.M.). Eight-line stanzas of which the first four are tetrameter and the last four trimeter is called hallelujah meter (H.M.).
An elaborate metaphor, often strained or far-fetched, in which the subject is compared with a simpler analogue usually chosen from nature or a familiar context. An excellent example of a conceit is Sir Thomas Wyatt’s My Galley, Charged with Forgetfulness, an adaptation of Petrarch’s Sonnet 159. (See also Euphuism, Gongorism, Marinism, Melic Verse, Metaphysical)
Poetry which forms a structurally original visual shape through the use of reduced language, fragmented letters, symbols and other typographical variations to create an extreme graphic impact on the reader’s attention. The essence of concrete poetry lies in its appearance on the page rather than in the written text; it is intended to be perceived as a visual whole and often cannot be effective when read aloud. (See also Pattern Poetry)
The suggestion of a meaning by a word beyond what it explicitely denotes or describes. The word, home, for example, means the place where one lives, but by connotation, also suggests security, family, love and comfort.
• Sidelight: Sometimes one of the connotations of a word gains enough widespread acceptance to become a denotation.
(See also Allusion, Symbol)
A pleasing combination of sounds; sounds in agreement with tone. Also, the repetition of the same end consonants of words at the end of or within a line, such as boat and night.
(See also Euphony, Modulation, Resonance, Sound Devices) (Compare Alliteration, Assonance, Rhyme)
The substance of a poem; the impressions, facts and ideas it contains--the “what-is-being-said.” (Compare Diction, Form, Motif, Persona, Style, Texture, Tone)
Two successive lines of poetry, usually of equal length and rhythmic correspondence, with end-words that rhyme. The couplet, for practical purposes, is the shortest stanza form, but is frequently joined with other couplets to form a poem with no stanzaic divisions.
• Sidelight: If the couplet is written in iambic pentameter, it is called an heroic couplet.
A late medeival idealized convention establishing a code for the conduct of amorous affairs of ladies and their lovers. Expressed and spread by the minnesingers and troubadours, it became associated with the literary concept of love until the 19th century.
A game in which one player gives a word or line of verse to be matched in rhyme by the other players. (See also Bouts-Rimes)
Used in ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of a short syllable between two long syllables, as in thirty-nine.
• Sidelight: Another name for the cretic foot is amphimacer.
An inferior or petty critic.
The aggregate of accumulated literature, plays or musical works treating the same theme. In poetry, the term is typically applied to epic or narrative poems about a mythical or heroic event or character, such as the Siege of Troy or the Nibelungs of medieval times.
• Sidelight: After the death of Homer, a certain group of epic poets, between 800 and 550 B.C., wrote continuations and additions on the subject of the Trojan War; chief among them were Agias, Arctinos, Eugamon, Lesches and Strasinos. Since their writing was confined to that single subject, they were referred to as cyclic poets.
He who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things
ought himself to be a true poem.
For a good poet’s made as well as born.
A metrical foot of three syllables, the first of which is long or accented and the next two short or unaccented, as in merrily or lover boy.
A short-lived WWI European movement in arts and literature based on deliberate irrationality and the negation of traditional artistic values. (See Poems of Chance)
A line of verse consisting of ten metrical feet.
A metrical line of ten syllables or a poem composed of ten-syllable lines. (See also Dodecasyllable, Hendecasyllable, Octosyllable)
The literal dictionary meaning(s) of a word as distinct from an associated idea or connotation.
• Sidelight: Many words have more than one denotation, such as the multiple meanings of fair or spring. In ordinary language, we strive for a single precise meaning of words to avoid ambiguity, but poets often take advantage of words with more than one meaning to suggest more than one idea with the same word. A pun also utilizes multiple meanings as a play on words.
DIAERESIS or DIERESIS (dy-EHR-uh-sus)
The pronunciation of two adjacent vowels as separate sounds rather than as a dipthong, as in coordinate; also, the mark indicating the separate pronunciation, as in naïve.
• Sidelight: In classical prosody, the diaeresis was a break or pause in a line of verse occurring when the end of a foot coincides with the end of a word.
The choice of words; the manner or mode of verbal expression, particularly with regard to clarity and accuracy. (Compare Content, Form, Motif, Persona, Style, Texture, Tone)
Poetry which uses the beauty of expression, imagination, sentiment, etc., for the purpose of instruction, teaching a moral lesson, or explaining the principles of some art or science, as Virgil’s Georgics. Didactic verse is considered by some as a main group of poetry, along with lyric, narrative and dramatic poetry.
• Sidelight: The inclusion of didactic poetry among the main groups is arbitrary. In classical times, it was a minor variation of the epic and later categorized as a branch of lyric verse. Subsequently, however, it has been so largely developed by modern poets that many believe it should constitute a fourth main group,
In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of four syllables, with the first and third short and the second and fourth long, i.e., two iambs considered as a single foot.
A line of verse consisting of two metrical feet, or of two dipodies. (See Meter)
DIPODY, DIPODIC VERSE (DIP-uh-dee, dih-PAH-dik)
A double foot; a unit of two feet.
• Sidelight: Sometimes heavy and light stresses alternate in the accented syllables of verse. When such alternations are frequent enough to establish a discernable pattern, the meter is scanned in units of two feet instead of one and termed dipodic verse.
A poem of grief or lamentation, especially one intended to accompany funeral or memorial rites.
(See also Elegy, Epitaph, Monody)
In ancient poetry, a metrical foot consisting of four long syllables, equivalent to a double spondee.
A mingling or union of harsh, inharmonious sounds which are grating to the ear.
(See also Cacophony) (Contrast Euphony)
A strophic unit of two lines; a pair of poetic lines or verses which together comprise a complete sense.
• Sidelight: If the end words of a distich rhyme, it is called a couplet.
(See also Closed Couplet, Open Couplet, Heroic Couplet) (Compare Monostich, Hemistich)
A word of two syllables. (See also Monosyllable, Polysyllable, Trisyllable)
A rhyme in which two final syllables of words have the same sound, as in fender and bender or beguile and revile.
• Sidelight: In the above examples of disyllabic rhymes, fender and bender are also a feminine rhyme, while beguile and revile are also a masculine rhyme.
A poem of wildly enthusiastic and irregular character.
A little poem meant to be sung. (Compare Versicle)
DOCHMIUS (DAHK-mee-us) pl. DOCHMII (DAHK-mee-eye)
In ancient Greek prosody, a metrical foot consisting of five syllables, the first and fourth being short and the second, third and fifth long.
DODECASYLLABLE (DOH-decka-SIL-uh- bul)
A metrical line of twelve syllables. (See also Decasyllable, Hendecasyllable, Octosyllable.)
Originally applied to poetry of loose irregular measure, it now is used to describe crudely written poetry which lacks artistry in form or meaning. (See Broadside Ballad) (See also Poetaster, Poeticule, Rhymester, Versifier)