accent
the same as stress, a syllable given more prominence in pronunciation is said to be accented.

alexandrine
a line of poetic meter comprising 12 syllables.

allegory
a narrative or description having a second meaning beneath the surface one.

alliteration
the repetition at close intervals of the initial consonant sounds of accented syllables or important words

allusion
a reference, explicit or implicit to something in pervious literature or history.

analogy
This term is a likeness or similarity between things that are otherwise unlike.

anapest
a metrical foot consisting of two unaccented syllables followed by one accented syllable; anapestic meter – a meter in which a majority of the feet are anapests.

anaphora
repetition of an opening word or phrase in a series of lines

antithesis
a figure of speech in which words and phrases with opposite meanings are balanced against each other. An example of antithesis is “To err is human, to forgive, divine.”

aphesis
the loss of letters or syllables at the start of a word.

apocope
the removal of letters or syllables at the end of a word.

apostrophe
a figure of speech in which someone absent or dead or something nonhuman is addressed as it were alive and present

approximate rhyme
A term used for words in a riming pattern that have some kind of sound correspondence but are not perfect rimes. (occur occasionally in patterns where most of the rimes are perfect, and sometimes are used systematically in place of perfect rime)

assonance
the repetition at close intervals of the vowel sounds of accented syllables or important words

aubade
a poem about dawn, a morning love song, or a poem about the parting of lovers at dawn

auditory imagery
imagery describing sounds

ballad
a fairly short narrative poem written in a songlike stanza form

blank verse
unrimed iambic pentameter

cacophony
a harsh, discordant, unpleasant-sounding choice and arrangement of sounds

caesura
a natural pause, unmarked by punctuation, introduced by phrasing or syntax of a line

conceit
an extended metaphor with a complex logic that governs a poetic passage or entire poem.
An example of this can be found in Shakespeare’s sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” when an image or metaphor likens one thing to something else that is seemingly very different.

connotation
what a word suggests beyond its basic definition

consonance
the repetition at close intervals of the final consonant sounds of accented syllables or important words

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

couplet
two successive lines, usually in the same meter, linked by rhyme.

dactyl
a metrical foot consisting of one accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables

denotation
the basic definition of a word

diction
the use of words in a literary work.
It may be described as formal (the level of usage common in serious books and formal discourse), informal (the level of usage found in the relaxed but polite conversation of cultivated people), colloquial (the everyday usage of a group, possibly including terms and constructions accepted in that group but not universally acceptable), or slang (a group of newly coined words which are not acceptable for formal usage as yet).

concrete diction
refers to a use of words which are specific and “show” the reader a mental picture. Ex: “A four-hundred-pound male [gorilla], unaccustomed to tourists, will bolt into the forest, trailing a stream of diarrhea, at the mere sight of a person” (Craig B. Stanford, “Gorilla Warfare”)

abstract diction
refers to words which are general and “tell” something, without a picture. Ex: “Even a large male gorilla, unaccustomed to tourists, is frightened by people.”

didactic
poetry poetry having as a primary purpose to teach or preach

dimeter
a metrical line containing two feet

doggerel
a light verse which is humorous and comic by nature.

dramatic framework
the situation, whether actual or fictional, realistic or fanciful, in which an author places his or her characters in order to express the theme.

dramatic irony
a device by which the author implies a different meaning from that intended by the speaker in a literary work

dramatic monologue
poem that reveals a “soul acton” through the conversation of one character; silent listener; provides deep insight into the speaker.

duple meter
a meter in which a majority of the feet contain two syllables. Iambic and trochaic are both duple meters.

elegy (dirge)
a sad and thoughtful poem lamenting the death of a person.

elision
the omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable to preserve the meter of a line of poetry. (Pope uses elision in “Sound and Sense”: “Flies o’er th’ unbending corn….)

end rhyme
rhymes that occur at the ends of lines

end-stopped line
a line that ends with a natural speech pause, usually marked by punctuation.

English (Shakespearean) sonnet
a sonnet riming ababcdcdefefgg. Its content or structure ideally parallels the rime scheme, falling into three coordinate quatrains and a concluding couplet; but it is often structured, like the Italian sonnet, into octave and sestet, the principal break in though coming at the end of the eighth line.

epic poem
a long narrative poem written in a formal style that involves important characters whose actions highlight the deeds of the protagonist and form the framework for culturally and historically significant events.

epigram
a very short, satirical and witty poem usually written as a brief couplet or quatrain.

epitaph
a commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument, often written in verse, in praise, or reflecting the life, of a deceased person

euphemism
the use of a soft indirect expression instead of one that is harsh or unpleasantly direct. For example ‘pass away’ as opposed to ‘die’

euphony
a smooth, pleasant-sounding choice and arrangement of sounds

extended figure
a figure of speech (usually a metaphor, simile, personification, or apostrophe) sustained or developed thought a considerable number of lines or through a whole poem

enjambment
the continuation of a sentence or clause over a line-break; creates auditory interest

feminine rhyme
a rhyme in which the repeated accented vowel is in either the second or third last syllable of the words involved

figurative language (figure of speech)
language employing figures of speech; language that cannot be taken literally or only literally

fixed form
any form of poem in which the length and pattern are prescribed by previous usage or tradition, such as sonnet, limerick, villanelle, haiku, and so on

foot
the basic unit used in the scansions or measurement of verse. It usually contains one accented syllable and one or two unaccented syllables, but the monosyllabic foot, the spondaic foot, and the dipodic foot are all modifications of this principle.

form
the external pattern or shape of a poem, describable without reference to its content, as continuous form, stanzaic form, fixed form (and other varieties), free verse, and syllabic verse

free verse
non-metrical verse. Poetry written in free verse is arranged in lines, may be more or less rhythmical, but has no fixed metrical pattern or expectation.

gustatory imagery
imagery describing gut feelings

haiku
a three line poem, conceived of fixed lines that are 5, 7, 5 syllables respectively, generally concerned with nature and a single image.

heroic couplet
two end-stopped iambic pentameter lines rhymed aa, bb, cc with the thought usually completed in the two-line unit.
From Alexander Popes Rape of the Lock:
But when to mischief mortals bend their will, How soon they find fit instruments of ill!

heptameter
a metrical line containing seven feet

hexameter
a metrical line containing six feet

hyperbaton
an inversion of normal word order

hyperbole (overstatement)
a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used in the service of truth.

iamb
a metrical foot consisting of one unaccented syllable followed by one accented syllable

idyll, or idyl
either a short poem depicting a peaceful, idealized country scene, or a long poem that tells a story about heroic deeds or extraordinary events set in the distant past

imagery
the representation of language through sense experience

implied metaphor
metaphor in which the literal term is implied and the figurative term named

internal rhyme
rhyme in which one or both of the rime-words occur within the line

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

irony of situation
a situation in which there is an incongruity between actual circumstances and those that would seem appropriate or between what is anticipated and what actually comes to pass

Italian (Petrachan) Sonnet
a sonnet consisting of an octave riming abbaabba and of a sestet using any arrangement of two or three additional rhymes, such as cdcdcd or cdecde

kinesthetic imagery
movement, physical tension

limerick
a fixed form consisting of five lines of anapestic meter, the first two trimeter, the next two dimeter, the last line trimeter, riming aabba; used exclusively for humorous or nonsense verse

litotes
a figure of speech in which affirmative is expressed by the negation of the opposite. “He’s no dummy” is a good example.

lyric poetry
poem used to express feelings, normally with a song-like rhythm or beat.

masculine rhyme
a rhyme in which the repeated accented vowel sound is in the final syllable of the words involved.