Glossary of Poetic Terms

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Ubi Sunt 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 Keats.
Unaccented Rhyme 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 'clearly'.
Underground Poets Term used to describe a group of UK performance poets including Adrian Mitchell, Tom Pickard (see Basil Bunting), Heathcote Williams, Michael Horovitz and the Liverpool Poets.
Understatement See Litotes.
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.

Vanity Publishing 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!)
Variable Syllable A syllable which can be stressed or unstressed depending upon the meter concerned.
Vehicle See metaphor.
Venus and Adonis Stanza See Sesta Rima.
Verbal Contraption Term for a poem coined by WH Auden.
Vernacular See dialect verse.
Vers Old Provençal song which is similar to (but older than) a chanson.

Vers de Société Form of light verse which concerns itself with the comings and goings of polite society. Matthew Prior and Henry 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.
Vers libre 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 free verse
Verse 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.
Verse-Novel An extended narrative poem e.g. Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Omeros by Derek Walcott.
Versification A sub category of prosody dealing with meter and rhyme.
Versifier Someone who composes verse; often a pejorative term for poet.
Victorian Verse 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 Pre-Raphaelites.
Villanelle 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.
Virelai 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.
Virelai Nouveau 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.
Virelay See virelai above.
Virgilian In the manner of the Roman poet Virgil.

Virgule Prosodic symbol (/) used to separate metrical feet.
Visceral Relating to deep inner feelings rather than to the intellect.
Volta Italian term for the change in feeling which occurs between the octave and sestet in some sonnets.
Vorticism Literary and artistic movement occurring between 1912-1915 which attacked the sentimentality of 19th Century art. Ezra Pound was one of the main exponents.
Vowel Rhyme See assonance.
Vowels a, e, i, o and u. As opposed to consonants.
War Poetry 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.

Weak Ending Where a word or syllable at the end of a line of verse is stressed metrically but is unstressed in ordinary speech.
Well Versed Somebody proficient in the rules of prosody.
Welsh Forms 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 also cynghanedd and Eisteddfod.
Wheel See bob and wheel.
Willing 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.
Wit 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 advantage dressed,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed.

Today wit is limited to intellectual humour. See fancy.

Wordsworthian In the manner/style of William Wordsworth. See also egotistical sublime.
Wrenched Accent 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.
Xinshi Chinese poetic term which literally means 'new poetry'. See shi/shih.
Zeugma 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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