Glossary of Poetic Terms
No.1 on Google UK
|A foot consisting of two syllables where the first is
short or unstressed and the second is long or stressed e.g. as in
|An end stressed two syllable foot. See
|Beat or stress.
Gerard Manley Hopkins used it to indicate which
syllables in his poems he wanted readers to stress.
|Where a poet repeats exactly the same word to create a
rhyme. This is usually regarded as 'bad form' unless the
repetition serves a particular purpose. Also known as autorhyme or null
|A short poem concerning shepherd life or portraying an
harmonious version of rural existence. Idylls are particularly
associated with the Greek poet Theocritus. See also
|Images are representations of sensations perceived
through the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Visual
images are the most common e.g. William Carlos Williams' famous:
'a red wheel/barrow/glazed with rain/water'. However, images can rely on
any of the senses. 'Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn' from
Keats' To Autumn is an example of an auditory image.
|The creation of images using words. Poets usually achieve
this by invoking comparisons by means of
or simile or other
figures of speech. In his famous line from sonnet 18 Shakespeare creates
an image by comparing his love to a 'summer's day'.
|Movement of early 20th century American and English poets seeking
clarity and economy of language (in a reaction against the abstraction of
romanticism). Ezra Pound was one of the main pioneers of
imagism but the movement also included poets such as William Carlos Williams,
Marianne Moore, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Amy
Lowell, T. E. Hulme and D. H.
Lawrence. Imagist poems tend to be short, focussed on specific
images and written in
was partly inspired by Japanese verse forms such as
See also modernism.
|Poem written on the spur of the moment e.g. Impromptu
on Mrs Riddell's Birthday by Robert Burns.
See also extempore.
|Words/lines which are spoken or chanted in a
magical fashion e,g. the witches in Macbeth: 'Fair is
foul, and foul is fair'.
|Another term for
|Quatrain rhyming a-b-b-a and used by
Alfred Tennyson in his long elegiac poem
In Memoriam. The poem was written in memory of his friend Arthur Hallam and
consists of 132 separate poems - all written in iambic tetrameter.
|Term devised by G. M. Hopkins
to describe the 'individually distinctive' make up of natural phenomena
as perceived through the five senses. He also coined the term 'instress'
to describe the force or energy which creates and sustains 'inscape'.
Instress is similar in many ways to the Chinese concept of Tao. See
kingfishers catch fire (lines 5-8) in which he articulates something
of inscape and instress.
|Mysterious, unpredictable impulse which enables poets to
produce the finest quality poetry. Robert Graves
compared inspiration to lightening that strikes 'where and when it
|Term coined by W.K. Wimsatt and M.C. Beardsley which
advises that critics should not concern themselves unduly with an
author's declared intentions in respect to his/her work, but should look
objectively at the finished work and decide what meaning it holds for
the reading public at large.
|Either where a word in the middle of a line of poetry
rhymes with the word at the
end of the line e.g. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe or where two words in
mid sentence rhyme e.g. 'dawn-drawn' in The
Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
|Poetry published on the world wide web
by individuals, or in online poetry magazines or e-zines.
It also applies to a new type of poetry (in the tradition of
poetry) which uses computer-aided techniques to experiment with the visual
appearance of poems using typography, background, colour and shape. Some internet
poetry also experiments with the use of sound. Internet poetry is sometimes known as hypertext poetry.
|Study of the way in which the text of
one poem may relate to the text of another poem. This may occur through
or the fact that one poet
is influenced by the work of another poet. Intertextuality challenges the view that
any one poem exists in isolation.
|Where the expected stressed or unstressed syllable is
switched for its opposite. Shakespeare
frequently employed a trochaic inversion - i.e. by placing a trochee at
the start of an iambic line.
|The metaphorical dwelling place of those who
are detached from the realities of every day life e.g. some academics.
|Classical Greek meter comprising of four syllables per
foot. Greater Ionic meter consists of two long/stressed syllables followed by
two short/unstressed syllables, whereas Lesser Ionic meter consists of two
short/unstressed syllables followed by two long/stressed syllables.
|There are a number of traditional Irish
syllabic verse forms including: ae freislighe, casbairdne, deibhidhe,
droighneach, rannaigheacht chetharchubaid garit recomarcach,
rannaigheacht mhor, rionnaird tri-nard and séadna.
Like the Welsh
Forms - these forms involve intricate rhyme schemes and
|Figure of speech in which the ordinary
meaning of the words is more or less the opposite of what the poet
In his poem Don Juan, Byron makes great use of irony.
Don Juan is also ironically
Robert Southey and the other Lake Poets.
(Byron's irony could be called 'Byrony' - boom, boom.)
Another poem employing irony is
Verses on the Death of Dr Swift. In this poem, we are never quite
sure whether the opinions expressed by Swift (or the other
characters) are to be taken seriously or not.
Philip Larkin frequently used irony in his poem
titles e.g. Wild Oats (a poem about his lack of success sexually)
Vers de Société
(a poem about his lack of sociability) and Aubade (a poem about
death). See also Annus Mirabilis.
|In English, it is very rare for a poem to be perfectly
regular. In fact, most poems written using meter will exhibit
irregularities. Irregularities are permitted and can actually help to
vary the overall rhythm of a poem. Shakespeare, for example, often
used a trochee at the start of his predominantly iambic lines.
Some poets deliberately mix meters. As a general rule, rising
meters such as iambic and anapestic fit well together - as do falling
meters such as trochaic and dactylic. See