Glossary of Poetic Terms
No.1 on Google UK
|Latin term meaning 'where are they?' Typically a lament
for the passing of all things, and common in Old English poems such as
Beowulf and The Wanderer. A more recent example would be
'Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?' from
To Autumn by John
|Occurs where lines end with feminine (front-stressed)
words and the unaccented final syllables would rhyme (if accented) but
the initial syllables don't e.g. 'lover' and 'matter' or 'slowly' and
|Term used to describe a group of UK performance poets
including Adrian Mitchell, Tom Pickard (see Basil
Bunting), Heathcote Williams, Michael Horovitz and the
|Ut Pictura Poesis
|Term used by Hoarace in Ars Poetica
which literally means 'as in painting so in poetry'. It highlighted (what
he saw as) the connection/similarities between the two art forms.
|Where a poet pays to have his/her work
published. Another form of vanity publishing occurs where a publisher
compiles work by little known/unknown poets and then charges them for a
copy of the book. (Beware Forward Press and poetry.com!)
|A syllable which can be stressed or
unstressed depending upon the meter concerned.
and Adonis Stanza
|See Sesta Rima.
|Term for a poem coined by WH Auden.
|Old Provençal song which is similar to
(but older than) a chanson.
|Form of light verse which concerns itself
with the comings and goings of polite society. Matthew Prior and
Austin Dobson both specialised in vers de société. How to Get
On in Society by
John Betjeman is another example - although
this poem is also satirical in tone.
|Revolt against the formal constraints of
classical French prosody. Occurring in the final years of the 19th
century - vers libre abandoned traditional metre and rhyme schemes in
favour of natural rhythm. It was pioneered by poets such as Rimbaud,
Lafargue, Baudelaire and Mallarmé. See also
|Either a definite number of lines of poetry (see
stanza) or a general
term for poetic composition. Verse, however, is often used to
refer to work of a slightly lower standard than
'poetry'. See also parnassian.
|An extended narrative poem e.g. Aurora Leigh by
Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Omeros by Derek Walcott.
|A sub category of
prosody dealing with
meter and rhyme.
|Someone who composes verse; often a pejorative term for
|Verse written during the reign of Queen Victoria
(1819-1901). Unlike Victorian novelists (such as Dickens) who tackled
harsh social realism, most Victorian poets tended to create an escapist world
fuelled by Arthurian legend, and featuring long haired maidens in towers. Tennyson was the pre-eminent
Victorian poet. See also
|A poem (normally) consisting of 19 lines
- arranged as five triplets and one final quatrain. The intricate rhyme scheme of
the villanelle is furnished by the first triplet: A(1)-B-A(2) and is then repeated
twice in the form of A-B-A(1) and A-B-A(2) and then concluded with the quatrain
rhymed A-B-A(1)-A(2). Examples of villanelles include Do Not Go Gentle Into
That Good Night by Dylan Thomas and If
I Could Tell You by Auden.
|Complex 14th Century French form composed of long and
short lines. The long lines of the second stanza take their rhyme from
the short lines of the first stanza. This pattern continues
through out the poem until the final stanza - where the short lines take
their rhyme from the long lines of the first stanza.
|Variation on the virelai featuring a double refrain at
the start of the poem. These refrain lines are then used alternately at
the end of successive stanzas and then appear together again at
the end of the final stanza but in reverse order. An example of a
virelai nouveau is July by Dobson.
|See virelai above.
|In the manner of the Roman poet
|Prosodic symbol (/) used to separate metrical feet.
|Relating to deep inner feelings rather than
to the intellect.
|Italian term for the change in feeling which
occurs between the octave and sestet in some
|Literary and artistic movement occurring between
1912-1915 which attacked the sentimentality of 19th Century art.
Ezra Pound was one of the main exponents.
|a, e, i, o and u. As opposed to
|Term (normally) applied to poetry
produced during the First World War by poets such as Edward
Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred
Owen, Rupert Brooke, Edmund Blunden and Robert
Graves etc. Thomas and Owen were both killed in action.
However, there was also some notable war poetry produced during the Second World
War by the likes of Keith Douglas, Alun Owen, Sidney Keyes and Henry Reed.
|Where a word or syllable at the end of a line of verse is
stressed metrically but is unstressed in ordinary speech.
|Somebody proficient in the rules of
|Wales has always had a rich bardic tradition and can
boast 24 separate poetic forms: 12
awdl forms, 4
cywydd forms and 8
englyn forms. See
bob and wheel.
Suspension of Disbelief
|Term coined by S.T.Coleridge
in his Biographia Literaria which states that readers and/or
theatre audiences need to overlook certain literary/theatrical
conventions in order to fully engage with the work in question.
|During the Renaissance wit was synonymous with
intelligence and wisdom. During the 17th century it became more closely
associated with fancy. One of the main themes of Pope's An Essay on
Criticism is wit and he concludes that:
True wit is Nature to
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed.
Today wit is limited to intellectual humour. See
|In the manner/style of
William Wordsworth. See also
|Occurs when the metrical stress or accent forces a change
in the natural word accent. This can occur due to a poet's lack of
skill, but is also characteristic of folk ballads.
|Chinese poetic term which literally means
'new poetry'. See
|Figure of speech in which a verb or adjective is applied
to two nouns, but where one of the applications is inappropriate e.g.
'with weeping eyes and hearts'.
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