Glossary of Poetic Terms

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Echo Verse Type of verse where the final syllable of each line is repeated as an 'echo' on the line below e.g. Herbert's poem Heaven.
Eclogue Short pastoral poem originally written by Virgil who was imitating the idylls of Theocritus. Eclogues may also express religious or ethical themes. A modern example of the form is Eclogue from Iceland by Louis MacNeice. The eclogue is sometimes known as the bucolic.
Egotistical Sublime Term coined by John Keats to describe (what he saw as) Wordsworth's self-aggrandising style.
Eisteddfod Welsh bardic festival where poets and musicians competed for prizes. See Welsh forms.
Ekphrasis Poetry (or other literature) written about works of art e.g. Musée des Beaux Arts by W.H. Auden or Pictures from Brueghel by William Carlos Williams.

Elegiacs Classical Greek verse form composed of alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and dactylic pentameter. See also distich.
Elegiac Stanza A quatrain written in iambic pentameters and rhyming a-b-a-b.
Elegy Poem written to lament the dead e.g. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray. Such a poem would employ a mournful or elegiac tone. Other examples of elegy include: Lycidas by Milton, In Memoriam by Tennyson, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd by Whitman (for Abraham Lincoln) and In Memory of W. B. Yeats by Auden. A more modern example of elegy is V by Tony Harrison.
Elision The suppression of a vowel or syllable for metrical purposes. E.g. 'The sedge has wither'd from the lake' from La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Keats. The elision, in this case, ensures that the line remains octosyllabic. Modern poets no longer use elision. See also synalepha.
Elizabethan Poets Group of poets including Shakespeare, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson who were writing during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603).
Ellipsis Omission from a sentence of words needed to complete its construction, but without a loss of sense.
Emotive Language Language which is charged with emotion e.g. love, hate, fear etc. Sometimes associated with inferior poetry - especially that produced by angst-ridden teenagers.
Encomiastic Verse Poems written to praise or glorify people, objects or abstract ideas e.g. Wordsworth's Ode to Duty.
End Stopped Line A line of verse which ends with a grammatical break such as a coma, colon, semi-colon or full stop etc. Compare this with enjambment - see below.
English Sonnet Type of sonnet invented by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey which was a variation on the Petrarchan or Italian sonnet. Surrey established the rhyme scheme of: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. See sonnet.

Englyn Poem of Welsh Celtic origin. There are 8 separate englyn forms including the cyrch, the milwr, the unodl union, the unodl crwc, the proest dalgon, the lleddfbroest, the proest gadwynog and the penfyr. The example below is a 30 syllable englyn arranged in lines of 10, 6, 7 and 7 - where the rhyme scheme is announced by the sixth syllable of the first line:

At the remote, unmanned level crossing
The driver puts his hand
On the steering wheel and
Carries out what he had planned.

Englyn also employ an alliterative, internal rhyme scheme known as a cynghanedd. See Welsh forms.

The continuation of a sentence or phrase across a line break - as opposed to an end-stopped line. Philip Larkin frequently used enjambment e.g. in The Whitsun Weddings:

A hothouse flashed uniquely; hedges dipped
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth

Enjambment is sometimes known as run-on.

Envoi/Envoy Short stanza concluding a ballade or sestina. See Ballade.
Epic Simile Extended or elaborate simile; sometimes known as the Homeric simile. See simile.
Epic Verse Poetry written on a grand scale and  usually narrative in nature e.g. The Odyssey by Homer. English examples of epic verse include The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser or Paradise Lost by John Milton. Epic verse is not widely read today. The novel has now superseded it as the major narrative form in literature.
Epigram Short, pithy poem - usually of a humorous nature. Ben Jonson wrote a series of epigrams e.g.

He that fears death, or mourns it, in the just,
Shows in the resurrection little trust. 

Epilogue The concluding section of a poem or literary work e.g. Epilogue to Asolando by Robert Browning. See also prologue.
Epistle Poem written in the form of a letter e.g. Epistle To Dr Arbuthnot by Pope.
Epitaph A short poem written to be carved on a gravestone. W.B.Yeats wrote his own epitaph e.g.

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

Epithalamion A poem written to celebrate a marriage. One of the best known epithalamions was written by Edmund Spenser in 1594 on the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth Boyle. See also prothalamion.
Epithet Adjective expressing quality or attribute. Homer frequently linked adjectives and nouns to create epithets e.g. 'swift-footed Achilles' or 'rosy-fingered dawn'.
Epitrite Greek metrical foot containing one short/unstressed syllable and three long/stressed syllables. Variations include: first, second, third or fourth epitrites, depending on the position of the unstressed syllable.
Epode The third stanza of a Pindaric ode. See ode.
Equivalence In quantitative verse, the rule that two short syllables equal one long syllable. See mora.
Erotic Poetry Explicit poetry dealing with sex or sexual love e.g. the work of Sappho or Anacreon, Venus and Adonis by Shakespeare or Rossetti's collection The House of Life. Love poetry, by contrast, deals with the more spiritual side of love.
Espinella Form invented by the Spanish poet Vicente Espinel comprising a ten line, octosyllabic stanza with an a-b-b-a: a-c-c-d-d-c rhyme scheme.

Euphony Pleasing sound; usually of words or phrases.
Extempore An improvised poem e.g. Extempore Effusion upon the Death of James Hogg by Wordsworth. See also impromptu.
Eye Rhyme See spelling rhyme.

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