If you want to read poetry and appreciate it, you need to understand the different poetic devices that poets use to write or compose their poems. If you want to analyze a poem, you need to understand the language that people use to discuss poetry. If you want to write about a poem, you need to be able to use the language of a poetry. If you want to compose your own poetry, you need to understand the figures of speech and other poetic devices that poets use to compose their poetry.
Here is a list of poetry terms that you should know:
- Denotation. The dictionary meaning of a word.
- Connotation. The implied or suggested meaning of a word.
- Literal meaning. The simplest, most obvious meaning.
- Figurative meaning. The associative or connotative meaning.
- Meter. The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.
- Rhyme. Can be end rhyme in which two words at the end of lines rhyme. Or it can be internal rhyme in which two words close together have same sound.
- Apostrophe. Direct address of an inanimate object, abstract qualities, or a person not living or present. Example: “Beware O Asparagus, you’ve stalked my last meal.”
- Hyperbole. Exaggeration for emphasis. Example: “I am so hungry, I could eat a horse.
- Metaphor. A comparison between unlike things, without using the words “like” or “as.” Example: He is a bull running up the football field.
- Metonymy. A closely related term is substituted for an object or idea. Example: He remained loyal to the crown.
- Oxymoron. A combination of two words that contradict each other. Example: Bittersweet.
- Paradox. A situation or phrase that appears to be contradictory but which contains a truth. Example: “In order to preserve peace, we must prepare for war.”
- Simile. A comparison between unlike things using like or as. Example: Here lips are as red as a rose.
- Synecdoche. A part substituted for a whole. Example: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”
- Irony. A contradiction between what is said and what is meant (verbal irony), or a contradiction between what actually occurs and what is expected (situational irony)
- Imagery. A word picture; a word or sequence of words representing sensory experience (visual, sound, smell, touch)
- Symbol. An object or action that represents something other than its literal meaning. Example: White represents innocence, purity, hope.
- Alliteration. The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. Example: The sunlight streamed down on the sand.”
- Assonance. The repetition of similar vowel sounds. Example: “I rose and told him of my woe.”
- Onomatopoeia. The use of words to imitate the sounds they describe. Example: Buzz, crack, whir.
- Allusion. A reference to a person, historical event, or artistic work outside the poem.
Open. A poetic form free from specific line length, rhyme, and metrical form.
Closed. A poetic form subject to fixed structure and pattern
Stanza. A unit of a poem, often repeated in the same form throughout the poem.
Blank verse. A poem of unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Free verse. A poem with no specific line length, rhyme structure, or metrical verse.
Metrical verse. A poem with a particular rhyme scheme, line structure, and metrical verse.
Couplet. A pair of lines in a verse that rhyme.
Quantrin. A group of four lines of a verse.
Sonnet. A 14 line poem in iambic pentameter.