Glossary of Poetic Terms
No.1 on Google UK
|Type of verse where the final syllable of
each line is repeated as an 'echo' on the line below e.g. Herbert's poem
|Short pastoral poem originally written by
Virgil who was
imitating the idylls
of Theocritus. Eclogues may also express religious or ethical themes. A
modern example of the form is Eclogue from Iceland
by Louis MacNeice.
The eclogue is sometimes known as the bucolic.
|Term coined by John Keats
to describe (what he saw as) Wordsworth's self-aggrandising style.
|Welsh bardic festival where poets and
musicians competed for prizes. See
|Poetry (or other literature) written about
works of art e.g. Musée des Beaux Arts by
W.H. Auden or Pictures from Brueghel by
William Carlos Williams.
|Classical Greek verse form composed of
alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and dactylic pentameter. See
|A quatrain written in iambic pentameters and
|Poem written to lament the dead e.g. Elegy Written in a Country
Churchyard by Thomas Gray. Such a poem would
employ a mournful or elegiac tone. Other examples of elegy include:
Lycidas by Milton,
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd by Whitman (for Abraham
Lincoln) and In Memory of W. B.
Yeats by Auden. A more modern example of
V by Tony Harrison.
|The suppression of a vowel or syllable for metrical
purposes. E.g. 'The sedge has wither'd from the lake' from La
Belle Dame Sans Merci by
Keats. The elision, in this case, ensures that
the line remains octosyllabic. Modern poets no longer use elision. See
|Group of poets including Shakespeare,
Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir
Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson who were writing during the reign of
Elizabeth I (1558-1603).
|Omission from a sentence of words needed to
complete its construction, but without a loss of sense.
|Language which is charged with emotion e.g.
love, hate, fear etc. Sometimes associated with inferior poetry -
especially that produced by angst-ridden teenagers.
|Poems written to praise or glorify people,
objects or abstract ideas e.g. Wordsworth's Ode to Duty.
|A line of verse which ends with a grammatical break such
as a coma, colon, semi-colon or full stop etc. Compare this with
enjambment - see below.
|Type of sonnet invented by
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey which was a variation on the Petrarchan
or Italian sonnet. Surrey established the rhyme scheme of: a-b-a-b,
c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. See
|Poem of Welsh Celtic origin. There are 8 separate englyn forms including
the cyrch, the milwr, the unodl union, the unodl crwc, the proest dalgon,
the lleddfbroest, the proest gadwynog and the penfyr. The example below
is a 30 syllable englyn arranged in lines of
10, 6, 7 and 7 - where the rhyme scheme is announced by the sixth
syllable of the first line:
At the remote, unmanned level crossing
The driver puts his hand
On the steering wheel and
Carries out what he had planned.
Englyn also employ an alliterative, internal rhyme scheme known as a
|The continuation of a sentence or phrase across a line
break - as opposed to an end-stopped line. Philip
Larkin frequently used enjambment e.g. in The Whitsun Weddings:
A hothouse flashed uniquely; hedges dipped
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth
Enjambment is sometimes known as run-on.
|Short stanza concluding a ballade or sestina.
|Extended or elaborate simile; sometimes known
as the Homeric simile. See
|Poetry written on a grand scale and usually narrative in nature e.g.
Odyssey by Homer. English examples of epic verse include
The Faerie Queene
by Edmund Spenser or Paradise Lost by John
Milton. Epic verse is not widely read today. The novel has now
superseded it as the major narrative form in literature.
|Short, pithy poem - usually of a
humorous nature. Ben Jonson wrote a series of epigrams
He that fears death, or mourns it, in the just,
Shows in the resurrection little trust.
|The concluding section of a poem or literary
to Asolando by Robert Browning. See also
|Poem written in the form of a letter e.g.
Epistle To Dr Arbuthnot by Pope.
|A short poem written to be carved on a gravestone. W.B.Yeats
wrote his own epitaph e.g.
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
|A poem written to celebrate a marriage.
One of the best known epithalamions was written by Edmund
Spenser in 1594 on the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth Boyle.
See also prothalamion.
|Adjective expressing quality or attribute.
Homer frequently linked adjectives and nouns to create epithets e.g.
'swift-footed Achilles' or 'rosy-fingered dawn'.
|Greek metrical foot containing one
short/unstressed syllable and three long/stressed syllables. Variations
include: first, second, third or fourth epitrites, depending on the
position of the unstressed syllable.
|The third stanza of a Pindaric ode. See
quantitative verse, the rule that two short syllables equal one
long syllable. See mora.
|Explicit poetry dealing with sex or sexual
love e.g. the work of Sappho or Anacreon, Venus and Adonis by
Shakespeare or Rossetti's collection The House of Life. Love
poetry, by contrast, deals with the more spiritual side of love.
|Form invented by the Spanish poet Vicente
Espinel comprising a ten line, octosyllabic stanza with an a-b-b-a:
a-c-c-d-d-c rhyme scheme.
|Pleasing sound; usually of words or phrases.
|An improvised poem e.g.
Extempore Effusion upon the Death of James Hogg by Wordsworth.
See also impromptu.