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Poetry Handbook

Abecedarian Poem
Each line builds with a successive letter in the alphabet. Also referred to as an alphabet poem.

When unstressed syllables are not dropped at the beginning or the end of a line, they are said to be acatalectic. When unstressed syllables are dropped, they are said to be catalectic.

Accent is the emphasis on a syllable. Often, writers will use accent to mean the emphasis demanded by language, or stress to refer to metrical emphasis.

Accentual Verse
In accentual verse, stresses (accents) are consistent in each line regardless of where they reside. The count in each line must be the same. See metre.

Acephaly is where a syllable is not present in the first word of a line of verse.

Acrostic Poem
A poem where the first letter of each line spells a word. See example.

An Alexandrine is a twelve-syllable iambic line. This differs from the classical French alexandrine in that there is two important stresses placed on the sixth and last syllable, and one light stress in each half line for classic French.

An allegory, or somtimes called an extended metaphor, is the representation of abstract ideas by characters or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form.

Alliteration is the succession of similar consonant sounds. They are not recognized by spelling, but rather by sounds.

Alliterative Verse
Alliterative verse uses alliteration as its structure for foundation instead of rhyme.

Referencing a person place or thing, usually indirectly, that is believed to be known by the reader. Sometimes these references are footnoted or glossed.

A foot that consists of three syllables. The first syllable being long or stressed, the second short or unstressed, and the third being short or unstressed. See metre.

A composition in which the meaning is not yet coherent.

For dramatic affect, allusions are often misplaced in time to each other.

Occurs when the rythm of a verse is broken by using different measures.

Often written in trochiac tetrameter, anacreontic praises wine, women, and song written in adaptation or imitation of the Greek poet Anancreon.

The admission of one or two unstressed syllables at the beginning of a line of verse. This does not count as part of the metre.

The use of words of phrases that share meaning but are dissimilar.

The breaking down of poetry to get a better understanding of it.

Anapestic meter occurs when meter rises from unstressed to stressed. The basic foot unstressed, unstressed, stressed, is one of the principle meters found in English Poetry. See metre.

A word or expression used repeatedly at the beginning of successive phrases. This is usually used for poetic or rhetorical effect.

The repetive use of a word in a line whereas the meaning is different.

Two long syllables followed by a short syllable in a metric foot.

A purposeful letdown resulting in humor or contrast.

This word has come to mean a collection of admirable pieces of literature. Reference to The Anthology is to a collection of 4500 short Greek poems composed between 490 B.C. and 1000 A.D.

Two long syllables between two short syllables in a metric foot.

Placing a pair of words, phrases, clauses, or sentences side by side in contrast and opposition.

A word, or set of words that have opposite meaning.

The omitting of a letter or syllable in the beginning of a word.

A type of apheresis whereas the syllable omitted is short and unaccented.

The omitting of a letter or syllable at the end of a word.

In poetry: the addressing of an absent or imaginary person. It appears often in Shakespeare's and Whitman's works. An example: "O Opportunity, thy guilt is great!" from Shakespeare's "The Rape of Lucrece." Another: "O Night, thou furnace of foul reeking smoke!" from the same epic poem.

An original model or pattern used to symbolize an event or person.

The longer or accented part of a foot where an an ictus would be placed.

The succession of similar vowel sounds that are not recognized by spelling, rather by sound. Do not confuse this with alliteration which is the repetition of consonants. See rhyme.

A love lyric in which the speaker deplores the coming of dawn, when he must leave his lover. See troubadour.

Auditory Imagery
The use of words or sequence of words that refers to a sound to create an image.

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