Glossary of Poetic Terms
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| B |
|Classical meter consisting of three syllables per foot:
one short, one long, one long.
|Term originating from the Portuguese
word balada meaning 'dancing-song'. However, it normally refers to either a
simple song e.g. Danny Boy or to a narrative poem (often with a tragic
ending). Bob Dylan wrote and sang some wonderfully mournful ballads e.g. The
Ballad of Hollis Brown.
The ballad stanza is a quatrain where the second and fourth lines rhyme.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats is in ballad form. It
usually features alternating four-stress and three-stress lines.
|A poem of French origin consisting of three stanzas of either 7, 8 or
10 lines and ending with a refrain called an envoi. The envoi is usually half as
long as the stanza.
|Originally a term for a Celtic minstrel poet e.g.
Cacofnix in Asterix the Gaul but is now used for any
admired poet. Shakespeare is often
referred to as 'the bard of Avon'.
|The veneration accorded to
|Baroque derives from the Portuguese for imperfectly
formed pearl. Baroque poetry is characterised by a highly elaborate
style laced with extravagant conceits e.g. the work of the 17th century
English poet Richard Crashaw.
|The descent from the sublime to the ridiculous. This
expression comes from Pope's satire Peri Bathous, or the Art of
|X-rated poetry written anonymously for the purpose of
recital e.g. Eskimo Nell, Abdul Abul Bul Amir, The Ball
of Kirriemuir and The Good Ship Venus. See
|The rhythmic or musical quality of a poem. In metrical
verse, this is determined by the regular pattern of stressed and
unstressed syllables. However, free verse often features a beat e.g. the
work of Walt Whitman. Beat is one of the main
things distinguishing poetry from prose.
|Group of American poets - including
Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Rexroth - who were disaffected by contemporary society. The word
'beat' comes from 'beat' as in music, 'beat' as in defeated and 'beat'
as in to beatify or make blessed. Beat poetry had a big impact upon the
lyrics of singers such as Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Tom Waits.
|Group of poets associated with Black Mountain College,
North Carolina - including Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley
and Denise Levertov. They were anti-academic in their approach and
sought to challenge traditional poetic forms.
|Verse that does not employ a rhyme scheme.
verse, however, is not the same as
free verse because it
a meter e.g.
Paradise Lost by
which is written
in iambic pentameters.
|Poetry which catalogues the virtues or attributes of
women e.g. the tenth stanza of Spenser's Epithalamion.
|Music of African-American origin which
features a repeated 12-bar pattern and employs lyrics which focus upon
the harsh realities of negro life.
|Device used at the end of the main stanzas in
alliterative verse such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The
'bob' is a short, one-stress line followed by the 'wheel' - which is a
quatrain rhyming a-b-a-b e.g.
He has lived here since long ago
And filled the field with gore.
You cannot counter his blow,
It strikes so sudden and sore.
|Pompous or overblown language.
|Game originating in France where players compete to write
the best poem using a set of pre-selected rhymes. It was frequently
played by Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
|A line lacking two syllables or a foot. See
|In prosody, a breve is the mark placed over a syllable in
a line of verse to indicate that it is short or unstressed. See also
|The contrasting section of music/lyrics which
often occurs after the second chorus of a song.
|Occurs where a word is split in order to get
a rhyme. More common in light verse than serious verse.
|Alternative term for
|Chorus or refrain of a song/poem.
|Caricature or parody of a literary or dramatic work e.g.
Hudibras by Samuel Butler or Baucis and Philemon by
|Many of Burns' most famous poems were
written using a six line, tail-rhyme stanza with an a-a-a-b-a-b scheme;
the fourth and sixth lines being shorter than the rest e.g.
To a Mouse
Wee, sleekit, cowrin', tim'rous beastie,
Oh, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou needna start awa' sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin and chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!
|Byr a Thoddaid
|Welsh syllabic verse form.