Glossary of Poetic Terms

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Objective Correlative Term devised by T.S. Eliot to describe a poet's attempt to find a concrete or specific situation/location/thing which evokes a particular emotion in the reader (as opposed to attempting to describe the emotion itself.) In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Eliot writes: 
'Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:' This could be taken as an objective correlative signifying the loneliness and desolation of modern urban life.
 
Objectivists Group of poets including Carl Rakosi, George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff, Basil Bunting and Louis Zukofsky. Objectivism grew out of imagism. The objectivists looked to Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams as mentors.
 
Oblique Rhyme Alternative term for near rhyme.
 
Occasional Rhyme Randonly scattered rhyme i.e. not in a set pattern.

Occasional verse Verse written to celebrate an occasion such as a coronation, a wedding or a birth. At national level, occasional verse would be one of the duties of the poet laureate.
 
Octameter Is a line of poetry containing eight metrical 'feet'. Octameter is the longest line included in the formal classification of lines. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe is written in trochaic octameters.
 
Octave A stanza comprising of eight lines; sometimes known as an octet or octastich.
 
Octosyllabic Line A line containing eight syllables e.g. iambic tetrameter. An example is Hudibras by Samuel Butler.
 
Ode Comes from the Greek word meaning song. Odes are normally written in an exalted style and are classified as either Pindaric (after Pindar) or Horatian (after Horace). Pindaric Odes have a triadic or three stanza structure - comprising a strophe (first stanza), an antistrophe (second stanza) and an epode (third stanza). When odes were originally sung and danced by a Greek chorus, the strophe was chanted when the chorus danced to the left and the antistrophe when it danced to the right. The epode was chanted when the chorus stood still. An example of a Pindaric Ode is To the Immortal Memory and Friendship of that Noble Pair, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison by Ben Jonson. Other examples include: The Bard and The Progress of Poesy by Thomas Gray.

Horatian Odes are almost always homostrophic i.e. they repeat a single stanza shape through out (based upon the first stanza). However, the shape of that stanza is at the discretion of the poet. Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats and Ode to a Skylark by Shelley are both Horatian Odes but appear very different. Another famous Horatian ode is  An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland by Andrew Marvell.

In the 17th century Abraham Cowley developed the irregular ode which features stanzas with varying forms and lengths. Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth is an example of an irregular ode.
 

Odyssey, The Epic poem by Homer -  written in unrhymed dactylic hexameter and concerning the adventures of Odysseus.

Offbeat Work which is quirky or unconventional.
 
Old English The written and spoken language of England from the first half of the 5th Century to the period just after the Norman Conquest; often referred to as Anglo-Saxon. The two pre-eminent texts from this period are Beowulf and The Dream of the Rood.
 
Onomatopoeia The use of words that imitate the sound that the poet is trying to describe e.g. the use of the word 'crackle' in Thistles  by Ted Hughes:

'Thistles spike the summer air
Or crackle open under the blue-black pressure.'

Other examples of onomatopoeia by Ted Hughes include: 'Owls hushing the floating woods' from Pike and 'Wings snickering' from A Dove.
 

Opera A dramatic work set to music e.g. Aida by Verdi.
 
Operetta A short or humorous opera.
 
Opus A musical composition or set of compositions or an artistic work - usually on a grand scale. See also Magnum Opus.
 
Oral Poetry Poetry composed to be recited rather than read. Oral poetry was a feature of many pre-literate societies. Much of it was chanted to a musical accompaniment.
 
Organic Form The form taken by poetry which arises naturally from its subject matter - as opposed to  'mechanic form' e.g. stanzaic or metrical patterns which can be imposed upon it.
 
Ottava Rima A poem, of Italian origin, consisting of eight line stanzas with a rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c.
e.g. Don Juan by Lord Byron.
 
Overstatement See hyperbole.
 
Ovidian As pertaining to the Roman poet Ovid.

Oxymoron Figure of speech containing two seemingly contradictory expressions e.g. 'Faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.' (Idylls of the King by Tennyson)

Oxytone Word or line of verse where the accent falls on the last syllable - as in iambic meter.

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