Glossary of Poetic Terms

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Tail Rhyme See rime couée .
Tanka Small Japanese poem consisting of exactly 31 syllables. A tanka is a haiku with two further lines of seven syllables added. Tanka, like haiku, work on the principle that less is more e.g.

Today, clumps of cow
Parsley (cut back by the white
Suited strimmer-man)
Fall onto your surface and
Are carried away downstream.

 See also Japanese forms.

Tawddgyrch Cadwynog Welsh syllabic verse form - similar to a rhupunt.

Telestich Similar to an acrostic except that the significant word or phrase is spelt out by the last letters of each line rather than by the first.
Tenor See metaphor.
Tension Term coined by Allen Tate for the totality of meaning within a poem. It derives from the logical terms 'extension' and 'intension'.
Terzain A stanza comprising of 3 lines. See also Triplet.
Terzanelle Hybrid form combining the shape/length of a villanelle with the chain rhyme of terza rima. An example is Lewis Turco's Terzanelle in Thunderweather.
Terza rima A poem consisting of triplets with the following chain rhyme pattern: a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c etc. It can be written in any meter but in English it is usually iambic pentameter - see Ode to the West Wind by Shelley. Terza rima was also the form chosen by Dante in The Divine Comedy.

Tetrameter A line of poetry consisting of four metrical 'feet'. An example of trochaic tetrameter is Haiwatha by Longfellow.
Tetrastich See quatrain.
Theme The main idea, thesis or subject matter of a poem. Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn, for example, deals with the permanence of art and the impermanence of life.
Threnody Poem of lamentation. See elegy.
Toddaid Welsh syllabic verse form. See awdl.
Tone The 'tone' of a poem (according to the New Critics) reveals the attitude of the poet being studied e.g. anger, love, resignation, despair, fear, boredom etc.
Topographical Poetry The poetic equivalent of landscape painting e.g. Pope's Windsor Forest or Gray's Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. A more modern example of the genre is Remains of Elmet by Ted Hughes which was a collaboration with the photographer Fay Godwin.
Tornada See envoi.
Tradition Poetry/literature which is handed down from previous generations (usually in the same native language) and which provides an influence/framework for subsequent poets. See canon.
Translation The process of translating poetry written in one language into another language. This is a notoriously difficult exercise due to the condensed language of poetry, the prevalence of figures of speech and the problem of finding equivalent rhymes.

There are also different approaches to translation. Some translators aim to provide an exact translation - while others try only to convey the general impression of the text. Dryden, who translated both Virgil and Homer, identified three types: 'metaphrase' (literal), 'paraphrase' ('with latitude') and 'imitation'.

More recently, Ted Hughes has translated Ovid and Seamus Heaney Beowulf.

Triad The strophe, antistrophe and epode of a Pindaric ode. See ode.
Tribe of Ben Group of poets including: Herrick, Carew, Suckling, Lovelace, Randolph and Godolphin who emulated Ben Jonson. See Cavalier poets.
Tribrach Classical meter consisting of three short syllables per foot. Such a foot would be extremely rare in English poetry.
Trimeter A line of poetry consisting of three metrical 'feet'. An example of an iambic trimeter is The only news I know by Emily Dickinson.
Triolet An eight line stanza, of French origin, where the  first two lines are repeated as the last two lines and where the first line is also repeated as the fourth line.  The triolet features  two rhymes only.
Triplet/Tercet A stanza comprising of three lines e.g. The Old Familiar Faces by Charles Lamb.
Tripody A line of three feet e.g. a trimeter.

Tristich A three line verse or stanza. See also triplet or tercet.

Trisyllabic Foot A foot with three syllables - as in dactylic and anapestic meter.
Triversen Stanza Form developed by William Carlos Williams where a complete sentence is split over three lines.

Trobar The art or act of composing poetry. It derives from the Latin word 'tropare' which means to make tropes. See trope (below).

Trochaic Meter A front stressed two-syllable meter.  
Trochee A foot consisting of two syllables where the first one is long or stressed and the second is short or unstressed e.g. as in 'FALLing'.
Troilus Stanza See Rhyme Royal.

Trope The figurative use of language - as in simile and metaphor.
Troubadours Group of 12th and 13th century French Provençal poets including Jaufre Rudel, Arnaut Daniel and Bernart de Ventadorn. They invented a wide range of complex verse forms (see French forms) and frequently wrote about 'courtly' love.
Trouvères Group of northern French poets who composed during the 12th and 13th centuries and who were influenced by the troubadours (see above). The group included poets such as Gâce Brulé and Blondel de Nesle.
Truncated Line/Truncation See catalectic.
Tumbling Verse See Skeltonic.

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