8th Grade English: Ms. Rauschenberg
Poetry Terms and Definitions
Poetry: the most compact form of literature
Poetry captures all kinds of ideas, feelings, and sounds in a few carefully
chosen words. The words, the sounds, even the form of a poem, all work
together to create the total effect.
(1) Form: the way
a poem looks--or its arrangement on the page--is its form.
Poetry is written in lines, which may or may not be sentences. Sometimes
the lines are combined into groups called stanzas or verses. Poets
choose the arrangements of words and lines. Some poets even plan the
spacing between words and letters to create a particular form. Some types
of poem carefully create certain shapes on the page (ex. diamante poems
make diamond shapes, acrostic poems
use the first letters of the lines to spell something, cinquaine poems
have five lines and often look roughly tree-shaped, etc.)
Poems are meant to be read aloud. Poets choose and arrange
words to create the sounds they want the listener to hear. Some techniques
used to achieve certain sounds are
- Rhyme: Rhyme is a repetition of sounds
at the end of words. Words rhyme when their accented vowels and all
letters that follow have identical sounds. Cat and bat rhyme,
as do whether and feather.
End rhyme occurs when words at the end of lines in a
Internal rhyme is when words within a single line of a poem rhyme.
Rhyme Scheme refers to the pattern of rhymes in a poem. Rhyme
schemes are described by using letters to represent different rhyming
sounds. The lines below (from "Sea Lullaby" page 133) illustrate an
ABAB rhyme scheme:
The old moon is tarnished
With smoke of the flood,
The dead leaves are varnished
With color like blood,
-Rhythm: the beat of a poem is called
its rhythm. It comes from the pattern of stressed and unstressed
syllables in a line of poetry. When stressed syllables--the syllables that
are emphasized--are arranged in a consistent pattern in a poem, the poem
is said to have a regular beat.
When marking the rhythm of a poem, stressed syllables are marked with
a ', and unstressed syllables are marked with *.
' * * ' * * ' * '
Poems that do not have a regular rhythm and that sound more like conversation
are called free verse.
Listen my children and you shall hear
* * ' * ' * ' *
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
-Repetition: Poets often choose to repeat sounds,
words, phrases, lines or even stanzas in a poem. With rhyme, particular
sounds are repeated.
Repeating the beginning consonant(s) of words is called alliteration.
When whole stanzas are repeated, the repeated stanza can sometimes
be referred to as a chorus.
-Onomatopoeia: using words that imitate natural
some common examples are crack, splash, moo, meow, etc.
(3) Imagery: when writers
use words or phrases that appeal to the senses and cause readers to create
vivid pictures in their minds or feel sensations it is called imagery.
Notice how these lines from "Simile: Willow and Ginkgo" page 132 give you
a visual picture as well as appealling to your sense of touch:
The willow is sleek as a velvet-nosed calf;
the ginkgo is leathery as an old bull,
(4) Figurative Language:
Writers (including poets) use figurative language--expressions that are not
literally true--to create fresh and original description. Figures of
speach (as figurative language is sometimes called) may include the following
special uses of language:
-Simile: a comparison that uses the word like or as
The willow is like a nymph with streaming hair
-Metaphor: a comparison that does not use like or as. In
the following example, the poet compares a person to a mountain.
I am the mountain, to stand with pride, strength, and faith.
-Personification: When a writer describes an animal or an object
as if it were human or had human qualities, we call that personification.
In the following lines, the poet describes the sea as if it were human
(from Sea Lullaby page 133)
The sea creeps to pillage,
She leaps on her prey;
(5) Theme: In all literary genres, the theme
is the message about life and living it that the writer wants to convey.
Questions? Comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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