Glossary of Poetic Terms
No.1 on Google UK
|A foot consisting of three syllables where the first is
long or stressed and the second two are short or unstressed e.g. as in 'MURmuring'.
|Meter used in Greek epic poetry.
Homer wrote the
Odyssey and the Iliad in unrhymed dactylic hexameters. See
meter. A more recent
example is Evangeline by
|A front stressed meter comprised of three
syllables per foot. See
|Poetry which attempts to deny sense and reason. Dada
comes from the French for 'hobby-horse' - a word originally selected at
random from the dictionary. Dada was the forerunner of
|A metaphor which has lost its meaning due to overuse e.g.
'to beat about the bush' or 'one fell swoop'. See
|A line with ten syllables e.g. iambic pentameter. See
|Form of literary criticism developed by the French
philosopher Jacques Derrida which stated that literary texts (including
poems) have no fixed or definitive meaning but, instead, are full of
contradictions and inconsistencies and are open to a variety of
|The appropriate adherence to traditional
poetic form and content.
|Verse which paints a picture e.g. the first 3 stanzas of
Thomas Hardy's early poem Domicilium - which describes the
cottage at Higher Bockhampton where he was born.
|A sign like an umlaut put over the second of
two vowels to indicate that they are pronounced separately.
|Verse which employs national or regional dialects e.g.
Robert Burns (Scottish),
William Barnes (Dorset) and Tennyson
(Lincolnshire - see Northern Farmer).
|A book explaining the meaning of words,
organised in alphabetical order.
|Verse which attempts to instruct or educate - as opposed
to pure poetry. An example of didactic verse is Alexander Pope's
Essay on Man which is a moral
treatise. Satirical verse is often indirectly didactic as, in ridiculing
something, it attempts to show us an alternative way to go.
poems such as: 'Thirty days hath September' could also be described as
|A line of poetry consisting of two metrical
feet. Dimeters are comparatively rare but an example of an iambic dimeter is
The Robin by Thomas Hardy.
An example of a dactylic dimeter is The Charge of the Light Brigade
|Greek measure consisting of two metrical feet, which are
taken as a single unit.
|Poem of lamentation. See
|Two spondees combined into a single unit.
|Term invented by T.S. Eliot to
describe (what he saw as) the split between thought and feeling which
occurred in English poetry after the
|The deliberate use of inharmonious
syllables/words/phrases in order to create a harsh-toned effect. Walt
Whitman employs dissonance in his poem
Locomotive in Winter.
|A two line Greek stanza. The distich is particularly
associated with Greek elegiac verse and consists of one line of dactylic
hexameter and one line of dactylic pentameter.
|When uncertainly occurs regarding which of two
consecutive syllables is stressed. This is sometimes called hovering
|A foot with two syllables - as in iambic and trochaic
|Greek lyric poem (possibly invented by Arion) sung in
honour of the God Bacchus. Alexander's Feast
by John Dryden
is a more recent example.
|Poor quality poetry. The Scottish poet
William McGonagall is famous for his doggerel and enjoys the dubious distinction
of being regarded as the world's worst poet.
|Difficult light verse form invented by the American poet
Anthony Hecht, consisting of two quatrains where the first three lines
are two dactyls e.g. 'Higgledy-piggledy' and the fourth is a dactyl and
a macron. The last word of each quatrain must also rhyme.
|Double or disyllabic rhymes occur when
the final two syllables of different words chime together - as in 'spender' and
|Poem narrated by an imaginary character
(not the poet) in the manner of a speech from a play. Dramatic monologue
poems were particularly developed during the 19th century by poets such
as Tennyson, Hardy and most notably Robert
Browning (e.g. My Last Duchess). The technique was then used
to great effect by Eliot (e.g. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
|Group of poets including Robert Frost,
Edward Thomas, Wilfred Gibson,
Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater and Lascelles
Abercrombie. They gathered together in the Gloucestershire village of
Dymock to write and discuss poetry in the years immediately preceding
the 1st World War.
See also Georgian