Click on the letters below to go to that part of the glossary:
Acrostic: an acrostic uses the first letters of the lines to form a word or phrase.
Allegory: prose or poetry where there the story/actions/characters have an additional meaning. The additional meaning is often less specific than the first. For instance a character might represent a concept such as truth, happiness, betrayal etc..
Alliteration: effect created by repeating the same first letter sounds on stressed syllables e.g. Bigger belly, better beer!
Anadiplosis: a word at the end (usually) of a line or stanza that it repeated at the start of the next. This may be for effect or to extend the meaning e.g The ugly man was crying and sick...........Sick at the sight of his bathroom mirror.
Anthology: a collection of poems, often by differnt authors, or from different publications by a single author. This term can apply to other forms of literature or music.
Apocope: a word with the end removed for effect or convenience e.g summer's eve for summer's evening.
Assonance: words close to each other sharing the same vowell sounds e.g the pale spade faced my way.
Avant-garde: art forms using new, often experimental, ways of expression.
Ballad: an old form of storytelling verse. Originally ballads were unlikely to have been written down. They were passed on from generation to generation in what is now known as 'the oral tradition'. Often they would have been sung.
Ballade: 3 verses of 8 lines followed by a verse of 4 lines (called the Envoy). Usually they have a regular rhyme and metre.
Bard: these days used as apopulist term for poet, but originally it would have been used for singers and composers of heroic forms such as the Epic (see below).
Blank verse: poetry that has a rhythmical structure, but does not employ rhyme.
Blues: soulful lyrics and music originating from the era of slavery in the Americas and West Indies. Although full of hardship, the dignified simplicity of The Blues has a therapeutic and uplifting effect.
Burden: a repeated idea usually in the refrain. It represents the main theme of the piece.
Canto: a section of a long poem, similar to a chapter in a novel, or a track on an album.
Chain Rhyme: a rhyming scheme where the rhymes cross stanzas eg aba, bcb, cdc etc. forming a link. Another variation is where the last word of a line rhymes with the first word of the next.
Chain Verse: where a link is formed by repeating a line or phrase from one stanza, in the next stanza(s).
Cinquain: can mean any 5 line verse. However it also describes a diamond form similar to the Diamante. But the rules for the Cinquain are less strict.
Clerihew: has given Edward Clerihew Bentley a small niche in the history of literature. Bentley, born in 1875, invented the Clerihew when still a teenager. As an adult he wrote detective stories and articles for The Daily Telegraph. The Clerihew is 4 lines long, with aabb rhymes, and always about a person (or possibly an animal). The first line always ends with the name of the subject. There are no rules about metre. They should be fun.
Concrete Poetry:describes poems that are deliberately set out to appear in the shape of their subject matter.
Couplet: 2 successive lines of a poem with last words that rhyme.
Cross Rhyme: structure where alternate lines rhyme (abab etc).
Dactylic Poem: a poem that has a three beat rhythm e.g This is the|story of|Billy the|bully
Diamante: a 7 line poem in the shape of a diamond. The first and last lines have one word, with the middle line being the longest. Often the first word and the last word are opposites.
Dirge: a lament on a death, usually sung.
Ditty: a short poem, often sung, and usually humorous.
Doggerel: short pieces of verse without obvious style and little artistic merit.
Dramatic Monologue: a poem that tells a story as if it was being told in the presence of another person or a group. Although the audience says nothing directly, the poem suggests an interaction between the teller and the listeners.
Elergy: formal in nature. It is usually rather sombre, often lamenting loss, death, or spurned love. Commonly, an Elegy has a pastoral setting. The Elegy is not for those seeking fun. However it can be therapeutic, thought provoking, and excellent for hair-shirt wearing aesthetes.
Elision: cutting a syllable or letter in order to get a better metrical flow eg until to 'til: Let us dance from now 'til dawn.
Envoy: if shorter than the preceding stanzas, he last stanza of a poem is called an Envoy.
Epic: home of the original super-heroes. A long poem in a formal style that celebrates heroes and their deeds.
Epigram: a short, clever verse or saying - 2 or 4 lines. They can be funny, but don't have to be. Often they have a folky sort of wisdom.
Epitaph: short piece about someone who has passed away.
Eulogy: poem or prose singing the praises of a person.
Fable: a poem or story that teaches the reader a lesson, or has a moral e.g The hare and the tortoise - slow and steady wins the race!
Foot: each rhythmical section - equivalent to the bar (measure) in music. Here are 4 feet: The dog|| will eat|| a bowl|| of soup!
Form: the way a poem is constructed. For some examples, see Garden of Forms
Free Verse: poetry that does not use regular rhyme or metre. Although it may use many poetic techniques, it is free because there is no set pattern stating how they should be employed.
Genre: the category of the poem, defined by its form or content. Genre is used to describe categories in all art forms.
Gongorism: a fantastic word meaning over elaborate, too full of obscure references and over used poetic devices. It comes from a 17th century Spaniard, Louis de Gongora y Argote.
Grave: an accent ( `) changing the way ed is pronounced eg Blessed is said Bless Ed
Haiku originate from Japan. They are small and subtle, precise and concentrated. Each Haiku is just three lines, grouped into 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Normally their themes have a pastoral hue. See also Senryu.
Heroic Couplets: pairs of rhyming iambic pentameters.
Hymn: a religious song/poem often praising god, usually sung by a group of people.
Iamb (Iambus, Iambic): The most common foot in Western Poetry, consisting of 2 syllables (short then long).
Iambic Pentameter: A line of 5 iambic feet: The dog||will eat||your socks||before||your feet.
Idyl (idyll): a poem praising the virtues of country life.
Ionic: a 4 syllable foot.
Lampoon: can be verse or prose, satirical piece that attacks another person often using barbed humour.
Light verse: easy going, relaxed in tone, and usually witty or funny, or both. It can be satirical, it can be plain silly. See the Ron Splatkinburger Collection.
Limerick: a popular 5-line form of light verse. Often ridiculous, it is the poetic equivalent of a cartoon. Limericks are generally about people, usually taking the Mickey! Sometimes absurd, the first line tends to place the subject by place or profession. The rhyme scheme is always aabba. Examples.
Melic Verse: poetry that can be sung as well as recited.
Monorhyme: when all the lines end with the same rhyme.
Motif: a theme, often a recurring one, in a poem.
Muse: an artist's source of inspiratation. The original Muses were the 9 daughters of the Greek god Zeus.
Neologism: old word that get new meanings e.g. wicked meaning brilliant.
Nursery Rhyme: a short poem, usually with regular rhyme and metre, and handed down from generation to generation.
Onomatopoeia: words whose sound is suggestive of their meaning e.g. splat, clatter etc
Oxymoron: two words with different meanings put together to emphasis the intended effect, e.g. blinding light, deafening silence, living death.
Parody: a poem copying the style of another, usually to be humorous, often mocking the original, and often satirical.
Pastiche: the imitation of the style of another's work. Unlike a parody, a pastiche is not making fun of the original.
Pastoral Poetry: originally pastoral poetry was inspired by the life of the shepherd, but these days it refers to poems celebrating the countryside and rural life.
Pattern Poetry: poems that are set out to give a visual image that enhances the meaning. Pattern poetry is similar to concrete poetry, but it is also able to be read aloud.
Personification: a metaphor that gives human traits to an object e.g. the sun smiled on our picnic.
Petrarchan Sonnet: a sonnet in the Italian style with an 8 line section (abbaabba) and a 6 line section with differing rhyme schemes (e.g cdecde).
Poetic License: breaking conventional rules (generally of grammar or spelling) in order to create effect or conform with rhyme and/or metre.
Portmanteau word: a new word made from two existing words e.g. the Australian classic pudding combining banana and toffee - Banoffee Pie.
Prosody: the science of poetic metre - syllables, accent, feet, poetic patterns, etc.
Quatrain: a 4 line poem or stanza.
Quintain: a 5 line poem or stanza.
Refrain: a section that is repeated at intervals during the poem. It may be as short as a single word, but generally is a phase or small number of lines.
Rhetorical question: a question for which an answer is not expected; generally asked for effect.
Rhyme Scheme: the pattern of rhymes in a poem. It is normally indicated by using letters e.g a limerick is usually aabba.
Ricochet Words: hyphenated words changing the first letter - fat-cat - or first vowell - splish-splash.
Scan: to annotate the rhythm of a poem.
Senryu: has the same structure a Haiku. But the subject matter is different. They tend to be about people and their foibles. Unlike the Haiku, the Senryu is allowed to be funny.
Septet: a 7 line stanza or poem.
Serenade: a lover's verse, usually sung. It can also be used as a verb - to serenade your true love (i.e. to sing them a love song).
Serpentine verse: a verse beginning and ending with the same letter. A serpent with it's tail in it's mouth is seen as representing eternal life.
Sight Rhyme: words that look, but don't sound like rhymes e.g. eight, height.
Sonnet: a poem of 14 lines - all iambic pentameters. The English (Shakespearian) sonnet normally has a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. The Spenserian Sonnet has a scheme of abab bcbc cdcd ee. See also Petrachan (Italian) Sonnet.
Spenserian Stanza: a stanza of nine, 10 syllable, lines. The rhyme scheme is: ababbcbcc.
Syncope: the substitution of a middle consonant with an apostrophe e.g. o'er for over.