Glossary of Poetic Terms

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Quantity /
Quantitative Verse
In classical verse, the time required to pronounce a syllable. The Greeks and Romans classified syllables as either 'short' or 'long' and this provided the basis for their metrical patterns. In English verse, however, quantity is important but is not the only consideration - as syllable length is often determined by the position in the line and also by tonic accent.
Quatorzain Fourteen line irregular sonnet.
Quatrain A stanza comprising of four lines e.g. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray.
Quintet / Quinquain/Quintain A stanza comprising of five lines e.g. Ode to a Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Random Rhyme Irregular, sporadic rhyme - often used in modern poetry.
Rap/Rapping Music of African American origin which delivers (rapid) rhythmic rhymes - usually over a backing beat. However, some rap poets recite their lines without musical accompaniment.
Recitative /Recitativo Poem which is written to be spoken or performed - possibly with a musical accompaniment. See the opening line of To a Locomotive in Winter by Whitman.
Refrain A line or phrase that recurs throughout a poem - especially at the end of stanzas. In his poem Easter 1916 W.B.Yeats used the refrain 'A terrible beauty is born.' Another famous refrain line is 'Sweet Thames! run softly, till I end my song' from Spenser's Prothalamion.

Many French verse forms employ refrains.

Renaissance Poetry/Poets Broad term used to describe the work of 16th and 17th Century English poets including: Sidney, Ralegh, Donne, Spenser, Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Elizabeth I, Marvell, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Drayton, Wyatt and Skelton. See also metaphysical poets and cavalier poets.
Renga Longer Japanese form consisting of half tanka written by a number of different poets. See Japanese forms.
Repetend See refrain.
Rhapsody Greek epic poem (or section of poem) suitable for recitation.
Rhopalic Verse Verse in which each line is a (metrical) foot longer than its predecessor e.g. Richard Crashaw's Wishes to His Supposed Mistress.
Rhupunt Welsh syllabic verse form. See awdl.
Rhyme The effect produced when similar vowel sounds chime together and where the final consonant sound is also in agreement e.g. 'bat' and 'cat'. (See also assonance - which occurs when the vowel sounds are similar but where the consonant sounds are different.)

Rhyme is normally divided into masculine and feminine rhymes. Masculine or single rhymes occur when the last syllable in a word rhymes with the last syllable in another word. This can occur where the words are single syllable words such as 'bat' and 'cat' or where the words have more than one syllable but where the final syllable of each word is stressed e.g. 'instead' and 'mislead'. Masculine rhymes are usually associated with end-stressed meters such as iambic.

Feminine rhymes occur in words of more than one syllable where the stressed (or rhyming) syllable is followed by an unstressed syllable e.g.  'nearly' and 'clearly' or 'meeting' and 'greeting'. It is also possible to have triple feminine rhymes where the stressed syllable is followed by two unstressed syllables - as in 'liable' and 'friable'. Feminine rhymes tend to be used in front stressed meters such as trochaic.  

The rhyme patterns in a poem can be analysed by using letters at the end of lines to denote similar vowel sounds e.g.

Who will go drive with Fergus now, a
And pierce the deep wood's woven shade, b
And dance upon the level shore? c
Young man, lift up your russet brow, a
And lift your tender eyelids, maid, b
And brood on hopes and fear no more.


See also alliteration, broken rhyme, consonance, identical rhyme, internal rhyme, pararhyme and spelling rhyme.
Rhymer/Rhymester A person who employs rhyme; often a pejorative term for a poet.
Rhymers Club Group of poets including W.B. Yeats and Ernest Rhys who met at the Cheshire Cheese pub in Fleet Street, London to read and discuss their poetry.
Rhyme Royal A poem consisting of seven line stanzas, usually in iambic pentameters, and rhymed a-b-a-b-b-c-c. This form was used by Shakespeare in A Lover's Complaint and by Chaucer in Troilus and Criseyde.
Rhyming Slang Device invented by 'Cockney geezers' to conceal the subject of conversations from eavesdroppers and/or the police. Examples include: apples and pears (stairs), Barnet Fair (hair), butchers' hook (look) and Chalfont St. Giles (piles). Not to be confused with Cockney Poetry.
Rime Archaic term for rhyme.
Rime Couée French term for a tail-rhyme stanza i.e. a stanza which is concluded by a short line that rhymes with a previous short line but which is separated from it by a long line. Robert Burns' stanza is an example of rime couée.
Rising Meter Term used to describe end-stressed meters such as iambic and anapestic - as opposed to falling meter.
Romanticism /Romantic Poets Term used to describe the work of poets such as: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Burns, Southey, Scott, Keats, Shelley and Byron.

In broad terms, Romanticism was a reaction against the order and balance of the previous  Augustan age in favour of self expression, inspiration and soaring imagination. It arose at a time when there was considerable social and political upheaval in England, Europe and American and when the rights of individuals were beginning to be asserted. It was also a time when poets were becoming less reliant on patrons and therefore had greater freedom to express themselves. However, Romanticism, is a notoriously difficult term to define precisely. It is also a term that embraces a diverse range of poets.

Rondeau Usually a fifteen line poem, of French origin, composed of three uneven length stanzas. It features a refrain at the end of the second and third stanzas which is taken from the first line of the poem. There is also a ten line version of the rondeau.
Rondeau Redoublé Another variation on the rondeau - this time consisting of five quatrains and a final quintet. The first quatrain furnishes four refrains which appear as the final lines of the following quatrains. In the final quintet there is only one repeation - the last line - which uses a phrase drawn from the  first line of the poem.
Rondel Another poem of French origin, normally consisting of fourteen lines, but with only two rhymes. The first and second, seventh and eighth, and thirteenth and fourteenth lines are the same. The most common rhyme scheme is: A-B-b-a-a-b-A-B-a-b-b-a-A-B.
Rondelet Smaller version of the rondel. The rondelet is a seven line poem with a refrain in the first, third and seventh line and a rhyme scheme: A-b-A-a-b-b-A.
Roundel Variation on the rondeau devised by A.C.Swinburne. It is an eleven line poem where the first part of the first line is repeated as a refrain in the fourth and eleventh lines.
Roundelay Short, simple song with a refrain.
Rubai A quatrain with a rhyming scheme a-a-b-a e.g. the  Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward Fitzgerald.
Run-On See enjambment.
Running Rhythm Term used to describe the effect of meters featuring regular patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables - as opposed to sprung rhythm.

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