POETIC TERMS

Watch the video below to help you remember the key poetic terms and the forms and structure of poetry to help you achieve the top grades.

Below the video are the definitions of some of the most commonly used terms in poetry.

Acrostic

A poem in which the beginning, middle or last letters of each line form a word when read vertically

Alliteration

The repetition of the same consonant sound. It is used to highlight the feeling of sound or movement to intensify meaning:

“Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Pepper”

Assonance

Repetition of identical vowel sounds in order to achieve a particular effect. Long vowel sounds can slow down a line, making it sound sad and weary:

"A four foot box, a foot every year"

Ballad

A simple song written as a narrative poem which tells a story through dialogue. Most commonly written in four-line verse with a regular rhythm

Couplet

A two line stanza

Diction

The Choice of Words or Language Used

Elegy

A slow, thoughtful peom written for someone who has died

End Stopped Lines

A line of poetry with a pause or stop at the end

Enjambment

A running over of the sense and grammatical structure from one line to another, or between stanzas. The enjambed line has no punctuation at the end:

“Small round hard stones click

 under my heels”

Form

How a poem is structured or organised

Free Verse

Poetry written with lines of irregular verse and often without rhyme

Hyperbole

A figure of speech which uses exaggeration to emphasise a point

Imagery

Language that appeals to the senses. The use of pictures, figures of speech and description to suggest ideas, feelings, objects and actions which create a vivid picture in your mind

Metaphor

An image where one thing is said to be something else. Like the simile, it is based on a point of similarity, but this image identifies them completely:

“Stick is the whip”

Onomatopoeia

Sounds of words which mime or resemble the sounds of the object being described

Personification

The effect created when a non-human object or quality is written about as if it were a human being

Pun

A play on words. Two different meanings are drawn out of a single word, usually for comedy

Rap

A popular song form which utilises several poetic devices, most notably play of language within a strict rhythmic scheme

Refrain

A recurring line or phrase, especially at the end of a verse

Repetition

Repeating a sound, a word, or a phrase for effect

Rhyme

The use of words with matching sounds, usually at the end of each line

Rhythm

The movement of syllables within a line or verse

Quatrain

A four line stanza (traditionally the most popular)

Simile

A comparison of one thing with another, where the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ are used

Sonnet

A fourteen line poem, written in iambic pentameter. Traditionally about the theme of love

Stanza

A group of lines of verse, arranged in a particular way

Symbol

The use of something to represent something else, but on a deeper symbolic level e.g. Red to symbolise passion, lust etc.

Theme

The subject, concerns, issues or ideas within a piece of literature

Tone

The feeling, mood, voice, attitude, manner or outlook of a piece of writing. Ask how the author is speaking to you; what would their voice sound like?

Triplet

A three-lined stanza

Voice

The speaker in a poem - either the poet's own voice or a character created by the poet

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