Terza rima

Terza rima is a poetic form consisting of tercets connected by an interlinking rhyme scheme in which the second line of one stanza rhymes with the first and third lines of the following stanza---aba bcb cdc ded efe, etc. The form, which was introduced by Dante in his La Divina Commedia, originally ended with a single line rhyming with the second line of the preceding stanza, but over the centuries poets have used different endings. Terza rima creates a strong sense of forward momentum … [Read more...]


In contexts unrelated to poetry, an ideogram is a character or symbol that represents a thing or an idea without expressing its pronunciation. For example, many street signs---such as those in the U.S. representing "construction ahead," "handicap parking," or "no parking"---are ideograms. Ideograms that use pictures rather than letters or letterlike symbols are sometimes known as pictograms. Poetic ideograms In poetry, an ideogram is a group of juxtaposed words and phrases meant to represent a … [Read more...]


In modern poetry, an anapest is a foot composed of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable. In Classical verse, an anapest is two short syllables followed by a long one. Anapests are rare in spoken English, and in English-language poetry anapests are far less common than dactyls, iambs, and trochees. There are very few anapestic English words, so an anapest in a line of poetry typically spans two or three words. Yet even when this is the case, it's hard to avoid placing some … [Read more...]


In modern prosody, a dactyl is a metrical foot composed of one accented syllable followed by two unaccented ones. These words are dactyls: poetry suddenly particle Longfellow Classical dactyl In Classical prosody, a dactyl is a foot composed of one long syllable followed by two short ones. Dactyl-based meter, especially dactylic hexameter, was the basis for much Classical Greek and Latin poetry. With the shift to vernacular verse during the Middle Ages, dactylic verse gave way to iambic … [Read more...]


A heterometric poem or stanza is composed of lines of varying lengths and metrical structures. The opposite is an isometric stanza, which is a stanza composed of lines of equal length and metrical structure. In traditional poetry, there are a few types of heterometric stanzas, including the Sapphic and the Spenserian stanza. In poetry written since the early 20th century, heterometric stanzas are very common. This stanza from John Clare's "Song" (1835) is heterometric, composed of four … [Read more...]


Through the history of poetry, a metrical foot has meant many different things. Today, with regard to modern poetry in English, a foot is usually thought of as a stressed syllable along with its attendant unstressed syllables. So, in general, a line of poetry contains as many feet as there are stressed syllables. For example, the Wallace Stevens line, This single place in which we are and stay, has five stressed syllables---sing, place, which, are, and stay---which give it five feet. But … [Read more...]


An isometric poem or stanza is composed of lines of uniform length. In traditional poetry, most poems were isometric, adhering to a set line length throughout. For example, this stanza by William Blake is isometric: Phoebe dressed like beauty's queen, Jellicoe in faint pea-green--- Sitting all beneath a grot, Where the little lambkins trot. All the lines are seven syllables, or four feet, in length. In this stanza, the lines are metrically identical, but isometric poems and stanzas may also … [Read more...]

Palindrome (poetry)

In poetry, a palindrome (from the Greek palindromos, meaning running back again) is a poem, line, or sentence that reads the same both forward and backward, either letter by letter or word by word. One early example, attributed to Gregory of Nazianuzus (329--389 A.D.), is in Latin: nipson anomemata me monan opsin This translates to, Wash my transgressions, not only my face. There are also some well-known examples in English, such as these two attributed to Napoleon: Madam, I'm … [Read more...]


A trochee is a metrical foot consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable---for example, the words poet, barren, public, Denver, Clinton, Teasdale. English is iambic in its natural rhythms, but poets have used trochaic lines to great effect. For example, each of the first three lines of this stanza from William Blake's "Tyger" begin with three trochees: Tyger, tyger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful … [Read more...]


In poetry, catachresis is the misapplication of a word or phrase to create a (usually) deliberately strained figure or a mixed metaphor. In nonpoetic writing and speech catachresis is often problematic, but poets have used it to achieve great compression and rhetorical energy in both serious and comic verse. Here are two famous examples of catachresis: 'Tis deepest winter in Lord Timon's purse. (Shakespeare, Timon of Athens) Blind mouths! (Milton, Lycidas) … [Read more...]

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