December 20, 2008

A Glossary of Literary Criticism

A deceiving or self-deceived character in fiction, normally an object of ridicule in comedy or satire, but often the hero of a tragedy. In comedy he most frequently takes the form of a miles gloriosus or a pedant.
Relating to literature as a total order of words.
A form of prose fiction, traditionally known as the Menippean or Varronian satire and represented by Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, characterized by a great variety of subject-matter and a strong interest in ideas. In shorter forms it often has a cena or symposium setting and verse interludes.
The thematic term corresponding to "myth" in fictional literature: metaphor as pure and potentially total identification, without regard to plausibility or ordinary experience.
A symbol, usually an image, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as an element of one's literary experience as a whole.
A form of drama in which the main subject is sacred or sacrosanct legend, such as miracle plays, solemn and processional in form but not strictly tragic. Name taken from Calderon's Autos sacramentales..
Autobiography regarded as a form of prose fiction, or prose fiction cast in the form of autobiography.
The meaning of a work of literature, which may be the total pattern of its symbols (literal meaning), its correlation with an external body of propositions or facts (descriptive meaning), its theme, or relation as a form of imagery to a potential commentary (formal meaning), its significance as a literary convention or genre (archetypal meaning), or its relation to total literary experience (anagogic meaning).
The adaptation of myth and metaphor to canons of morality or plausibility.
A self-deprecating or unobtrusively treated character in fiction, usually an agent of the happy ending in comedy and of the catastrophe in tragedy.
Encyclopaedic Form:
A genre presenting an anagogic form of symbolism, such as a sacred scripture, or its analogues in other modes. The term includes the Bible, Dante's Commedia, the great epics, and the works of Joyce and Proust.

The literary genre in which the radical of presentation is the author or minstrel as oral reciter, with a listening audience in front of him.
The internal social context of a work of literature, comprising the characterization and setting of fictional literature and the relation of the author to his reader or audience in thematic literature.
Literature in which the radical of presentation is the printed or written word, such as novels and essays.
Relating to literature in which there are internal characters, apart from the author and his audience; opposed to thematic. (N.B. The use of this term is regrettably inconsistent with the preceding one, as noted on p. 248.)
High Mimetic:
A mode of literature in which, as in most epics and tragedies, the central characters are above our own level of power and authority, though within the order of nature and subject to social criticism.
A symbol in its aspect as a formal unit of art with a natural content.
A primary consideration governing the process of composition, such as the metre selected for a poem; taken from Coleridge.
A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action inferior to the one assumed to be normal in the reader or audience, or in which the poet's attitude is one of detached objectivity.
The mythos (sense 2) of the literature concerned primarily with a "realistic" level of experience, usually taking the form of a parody or contrasting analogue to romance. Such irony may be tragic or comic in its main emphasis; when comic it is normally identical with the usual meaning of satire.
The verbal "texture" or rhetorical aspect of a work of literature, including the usual meanings of the terms "diction" and "imagery."
Low Mimetic:
A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action which is roughly on our own level, as in most comedy and realistic fiction.
A literary genre characterized by the assumed concealment of the audience from the poet and by the predominance of an associational rhythm distinguishable both from recurrent metre and from semantic or prose rhythm.
A species of drama in which music and spectacle play an important role and in which the characters tend to be or become aspects of human personality rather than independent characters.
The rhythm, movement, and sound of words; the aspect of literature which is analogous to music, and often shows some actual relation to it. From Aristotle's melopoiia.
A relation between two symbols, which may be simple juxtaposition (literal metaphor), a rhetorical statement of likeness or similarity (descriptive metaphor), an analogy of proportion among four terms (formal metaphor), an identity of an individual with its class (concrete universal or archetypal metaphor), or statement of hypothetical identity (anagogic metaphor).
A conventional power of action assumed about the chief characters in fictional literature, or the corresponding attitude assumed by the poet toward his audience in thematic literature. Such modes tend to succeed one another in a historical sequence.
A symbol in its aspect as a center of one's total literary experience; related to Hopkins's term "inscape" and to Joyce's term "epiphany."
A symbol in its aspect as a verbal unit in a work of literary art.
A narrative in which some characters are superhuman beings who do things that "happen only in stories"; hence, a conventionalized or stylized narrative not fully adapted to plausibility or "realism."
The narrative of a work of literature, considered as the grammar or order of words (literal narrative), plot or "argument" (descriptive narrative), secondary imitation of action (formal narrative), imitation of generic and recurrent action or ritual (archetypal narrative), or imitation of the total conceivable action of an omnipotent god or human society (anagogic narrative).
One of the four archetypal narratives, classified as comic, romantic, tragic, and ironic.
Primitive or popular, in the sense given those terms of an ability to communicate in time and space more readily than other types of literature.
The spectacular or visible aspect of drama; the ideally visible or pictorial aspect of other literature.
The character in an ironic fiction who has the role of a scapegoat or arbitrarily chosen victim.
One of the five contexts in which the narrative and meaning of a work of literature may be considered, classified as literal, descriptive, formal, archetypal, and anagogic.
One of six distinguishable stages of a mythos (sense 2).
Point of Epiphany:
An archetype presenting simultaneously an apocalyptic world and a cyclical order of nature, or sometimes the latter alone. Its usual symbols are ladders, mountains, lighthouses, islands, and towers.
The mythos of literature concerned primarily with an idealized world.
A form of prose fiction practised by Scott, Hawthorne, William Morris, etc., distinguishable from the novel.
A fictional mode in which the chief characters live in a I world of marvels (naive romance), or in which the mood is elegiac or idyllic and hence less subject to social criticism than in the mimetic modes.
The general tendency to present myth and metaphor in an idealized human form, midway between undisplaced myth and "realism."
A symbol in its aspect as a verbal representative of a natural object or concept.
Any unit of any work of literature which can be isolated for critical attention. In general usage restricted to the smaller units, such as words, phrases, images, etc.
Relating to works of literature in which no characters are involved except the author and his audience, as in most lyrics and essays, or to works of literature in which internal characters are subordinated to an argument maintained by the author, as in allegories and parables; opposed to fictional.

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December 12, 2008

Rhyme,Theme, and Imagery Poetry


Rhyme, likeness of the terminal sounds of words, frequently used in versification either at the end of a line of verse or within the line. Rhyme appeared only occasionally in classical Greek and Latin poetry; it was used more extensively later, in songs of the medieval Roman Catholic church. Rhyme was not established as a technique in English poetry until the 14th century. Since then not all styles of poetry have employed rhyme, but it has never fallen entirely into disuse. Rhyme functions as an element of rhythm, emphasizing poetic beat. There are three types of true rhymes: masculine rhymes, in which the final syllable of the word or line is stressed ("spring," "bring"); feminine rhymes, in which two consecutive syllables, the first of which is accented, are alike in sound ("certain," "curtain"); and triple rhymes, in which all three syllables of a word are identical ("flowery," "showery"). Words in which the vowel and the following consonants in a stressed syllable are identical in sound, even if spelled differently, are called perfect rhymes ("two" and "too," or "spring" and "bring"). In eye, or sight, rhyme the words look as if they rhyme, but do not: "move," "love." Slant, or oblique, rhyme uses words with an imperfect match of sounds. Within this category, consonance relies on the similarity of consonant sounds: "shift," "shaft"; assonance relies on the similarity of vowel sounds: "grow," "home." A pair of rhyming lines is called a couplet; three lines that rhyme are called a triplet. Traditional poetic forms have prescribed rhyming patterns; for example, sonnets usually follow the Italian rhyme scheme, abba abba cde cde, or the English rhyme scheme, abab cdcd efef gg. Blank verse is regular in meter but does not rhyme; free verse is irregular in meter and also does not rhyme.


Controlling Idea: The theme of a literary work. The controlling idea of a poem is the idea continuously developed throughout the poem by sets of key words that identify the poet's subject and his attitude or feeling about it. It may also be suggested by the title of a poem or by segment of the poem. It is rarely stated explicitly by the poet, but it can be stated by the reader and it can be stated in different ways. The controlling idea is an idea, not a moral; it is a major idea, not a minor supporting idea or detail; and it controls or dominates the poem as a whole.

The word theme is here used to name the particular subject matter of the poem in relationship to the reader's previous observation of the life about him and within him. Theme, then, here refers to those broad generalizations and high-order abstractions which each person develops in dealing with the common experiences of life. Each of us was born, and each of us will die. And, then no one of us can report his own birth of his own dearth, everyone had had some personal observation at first of second hand of the elemental and universal facts of life, Birth and Death. So, too, every mature person has had some experience of what we shall call of Heart of and Mind, of Friendship and of Love, of Youth and Of Nature and of Art, of Work and of Play, of War and of Justice, of Doubt and of Terror…; and most persons will add that they have had some experience of Faith and of God and is not complete list of universal experiences, but it will do to suggest the possible range of poetic themes.


Most figures of speech cast up a picture in your mind. These pictures created or suggested by the poet are called 'images'. To participate fully in the world of poem, we must understand how the poet uses image to convey more than what is actually said or literally meant.

We speak of the pictures evoked in a poem as 'imagery'. Imagery refers to the "pictures" which we perceive with our mind's eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin, and through which we experience the "duplicate world" created by poetic language. Imagery evokes the meaning and truth of human experiences not in abstract terms, as in philosophy, but in more perceptible and tangible forms. This is a device by which the poet makes his meaning strong, clear and sure. The poet uses sound words and words of color and touch in addition to figures of speech. As well, concrete details that appeal to the reader's senses are used to build up images.

Although most of the image-making words in any language appeal to sight (visual images), there are also images of touch (tactile), sound (auditory), taste (gustatory), and smell (olfactory). The last two terms in parentheses are mainly used by lovers of jargon. An image may also appeal to the reader's sense of motion: a verb like Pope's spring does so.

A good poet does not use imagery -- that is, images in general -- merely to decorate a poem. He does not ask Himself, "How can I dress up my subject so that it will seem fancier than it is?" Rather, he asks himself, "How can I make my subject appear to the reader exactly as it appears to me?" Imagery helps him solve his problem, for it enables him to present his subject as it is: as it looks, smells, tastes, feels and sounds. To the reader imagery is equally important: it provides his imagination with something palpable to seize upon.

TYPES OF IMAGES (according to the source of visual images)

1. SIMPLE DESCRIPTION - a large number of images which arise in a poem come from simple description of visible objects or actions.

2.1 DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE - as soon as the reader becomes aware that the poem is a dramatic monologue, he visualizes a speaker with the result that the particularity of the situation is evident.
2.2 DIALOGUE - has the same effect as Dramatic Monologue.

3. STORY - like description, narration causes the reader or hearer to form images. When the reader realizes that he is being told a tale he visualizes from habit; he does not wish to miss the point of the story.

4. METONYMY - when a poet uses metonymy, he names one thing when he really
means another thing with which the first is closely connected. e.g. Seven little foreheads stared up at me from the first row. (where "foreheads" is used for "eyes" ).

5. SYNECDOCHE - when a poet uses synecdoche, he names a part of a thing when he means whole thing (or vice versa) or the genius for the species.

6. ONOMATOPOEIA - although imagery usually refers to visual images, there are also aural images. The use of words which sound like their meaning is called onomatopoeia. e.g. buzz, hiss, clang , splash, murmur, chatter, etc.

Philip Sidney said, "Imaging is itself the very height and life of poetry." It must be so, form the very nature of poetic vision, which always embodies itself in the form of symbols. The personality of the poet, which is the well-spring of his poetry will be a world created from all that he has known and felt and seen and heard and thought. His image-making poetic faculty and his imagination will blend together his memories and his immediate perceptions into a thousand of varieties of shapes and associations of living loveliness and power. However apparently direct and unadorned the poet makes his verses, he will employ images. However simple his statement he cannot make it abstract.

How imagery comes to the poet, how it is carried alive into the heart by passion is too mysterious a process to analyze. It brings us back at once to the problem of creation in general. Under the influence of the creative ferment, the consciousness of the poet seizes association and poetry is the union of the mental and emotional excitement of the experience with imagery which leaps to meet it, and which must be already in the memory of the poet.

"Poetry," Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Clare, M. T., S.C. (1960) A Book of Poetry. New York: Macmillan Co.
Del Tufo, J. P. (1965) What is Poetry?. Publication Office:Ateneo de Manila University.
Drew, E. H. (1933) Discovering Poetry. New York:W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.
Bautista, Cirilo F. (1985) DLSU Research Center: De La Salle University Manila
Seng, P.J. and Main, C.F. (1996) Poems: Wadsworth Handbook and Anthology. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company Inc.

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Poetic meter

by: Christine Abriza

In most poems, the lines are written according to patterns of rhythm. Poetic meter is the measure of a line of poetry. It is rhythm that can be measured in poems.

Scansion is the act of making a poem to show the metrical units of which it is composed. It means any attempt, by signs, to indicate the beat of a line of poetry and to mark off the division of feet. Here are the steps to take in scanning a poem, (1) Mark the syllables (Read the poem at this and each succeeding step.) (2) Mark the feet. (3) Mark the caesuras (noticeable pause in a line of poetry and it has a peculiar effect on the total beat of the line). (4) Expect to encounter variations, but do not consider them in naming the bad meter (5) Check your scansion to make sure that it reflects the poem rather than preconceived notion of your own.

The smallest of these metrical units is the 'syllable'. English syllables are two kinds: accented or stressed, and unaccented or unstressed. An "accented syllable" requires more wind and push behind it than an unaccented; it also maybe pitched slightly higher or held for a slightly longer time.

After the syllable, the next largest metrical unit is the 'foot', which is group of two or more syllables. The six common kinds of feet in English metrics have been names derived from Greek:

1. IAMBIC foot consists of unaccented syllable followed by an accented. It can be heard in such words as "because, hello, Elaine".

2. TROCHAIC foot consists of an accented syllable followed by an unaccented. These are trochaic words: answer, Tuesday, Albert.

3. DACTYLIC foot consists of an accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables. You can hear the dactylic beat in these words: beautiful, silently, Saturday.

4. ANAPESTIC foot consists of two unaccented syllables followed by an accented syllable. These words are anapestic: cavalier, tambourine, Marianne.

5. SPONDAIC foot consists of two accented syllables.

6. PYRRHIC foot consists of two unaccented syllables.

The next largest metrical unit is the 'line'. A line is the regular succession of feet, and, though it is not necessarily a sentence, it customarily begins with a capital letter. The number of feet in a line of verse determines the measure or meter. Most poems are not built on a fixed meter, but rather on a combination of meters and variety of them. A line containing only one foot is called a "monometer"; one with two feet, a "dimeter" line; and so on through "trimeter", "tetrameter", "pentameter", "hexameter", "heptameter", and "octameter".

Granted that much more than meter is needed for a poem, does it follow that a poem must have a meter? A large number of poets, especially in the early years of the twentieth century, answered this negatively. Their poems, written in rhythmical language but not in traditional meters, are called 'free verse'. Nonmetrical poetry is called free because the poet has freed himself from conforming himself to the set of metrical patterns. Free verse must not be confused with "blank verse', which is the customary label for iambic pentameter without rhyme. Unlike the free verse, blank verse has a regular metrical pattern.

Meter has two functions. First, it makes poem pleasurable because it is intrinsically delightful. In addition to making a poem enjoyable, meter makes it more meaningful. It is a part of the total meaning -- a part that cannot always be described in words, but can always be felt and is always lost when a poem is paraphrased or when it is translated from one language to another.

Clare, M. T., S.C. (1960) A Book of Poetry. New York: Macmillan Co.
Del Tufo, J. P. (1965) What is Poetry?. Publication Office:Ateneo de Manila University.
Seng, P.J. and Main, C.F. (1996) Poems: Wadsworth Handbook and Anthology. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company Inc

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December 06, 2008

The Balinese Earth

Oka Rusmini Poem

The Balinese Earth


perhaps in your eyes there never was any map
of the ancestors of Balinese earth
or perhaps life has never taught you beauty
and the leaves so often picked by our ancestors
along the bank of Badung river
never told the tales of their genealogy

I remember
when as a child the river told me many stories
our ancestors sat close to the edge
with their legs stretched out into the water
letting their sarongs get soaked
as the water washed gladly over them

I often ran along the edge with my tricycle
the coconut trees teaching me the fable of a certain temple
you must learn the genealogy of earth ,they said,
for hundreds of offering have been prepared
by those who own this land

my fragrant Bali, the blood of the dancer turned into flames
that burn away the floral fertility of my land

children still play
along the shore, and an old woman waits for her grandchild
small fish, the aroma of earth
gives youth to her breath


Do you know the meaning of earth?
or perhaps you’ve never heard the question
the sky that protects you from the sun’s stretched bow
has made you forget the ancestral blood
that has often inundated your form

the sound of carriages that once woke up women for the market
has been packaged into fairy tales
far across the sea,the sky that you’ve begun to make your enemy
has no foam or coral that you might sculpt into a form of civilization

was it an idiot native of this land who occupied this simple plot of earth?
estrangement envelopes every world on which we might plant our feet
perhaps we still have a temple
at which you steal glances thinking
it too might be made an entertainment
where now can the ancestors of the sacred Sang Hyang dancer go
to make their confession of faith?

there is no ritual
the ancestors return home
the water at the edges of the Badung river refuses our touch
the old woman who often brought her grandchild here
has lost the river
how many genealogies of earth do you understand?
who can you trust to shoulder the burden of these mistakes?

if you longer have trees
or earth thet gives off the aroma of blossoming rice
to whom will you sing the song of your greatness?

people with no eyes, hearths or head
are only brave enough to proposition the beauty of your land
you dance on its body
tell me: which dance do you really understand?


so long as women entrust their prayers to the leaves
Temples shiver, their vomit soaking the statues
foreign hand in giving carvings
my Temples
have spoken to the rain
that never will give birth to their seed

hundreds of dances only understood by the gods have faded away
their shards killing off the blossom of rice

rituals no longer have voices of their own
and women who were often awakened by the sound of carriages
no longer know the beauty of the body of rice

smoke envelopes every earth on which I plant my steps

I see blood swiftly flowing
the wound of coral in the sea
the sky rent asunder
so what I cant’t even distinguish its colors

people of the coast across the sea
bury hundreds of additional corpses
is it a native of this land who weeps in the corners of the city
no longer able to connect her rituals with the scent of the earth that is hers

and just to smell the earth
the owners of the map, of the Badung river and the sea,
even the gods, must pay the price of the aroma of their own land


where is the earth that once dirtied my tinny feet
where the ceremony of my birth
complete with so many kinds of flowers and leaves of the forest
that cleansed me so that I came to posses this land?
where the ancestors
who so often sang the song of genealogy of the greatness of humanity?
where are the dancers
absorbed in devotion who borrowed night study
inspiration from the gods of dance?

history no longer has any greatness
for you no longer know the earth

as long as the leaves prepare death
how many plots of land will you set aside for the burial?

translated by Thomas M. Hunter

Tanah Bali


mungkin tanah Bali tak punya peta leluhur di matamu
atau hidup tak pernah mengajari keindahan
daun-daun yang sering dipetik para leluhur di pinggir kali Badung
tak pernah mendongengkan silsilah padamu

aku ingat
ketika kanak-kanak air kali itu bercerita banyak padaku
dan leluhur duduk dekat kali
menjulurkan kaki. kain mereka dibiarkan basah
air kali memandikannya dengan riang

aku sering berlari dengan sepeda roda tiga
mengitari kali. pohon kelapa mengajari dongeng sebuah Pura
katanya, aku harus tahu silsilah tanah
beratus tumbal telah diciptakan para pemilik tanah

Baliku harum. darah para penari telah jadi api
membakar kesuburan bunga-bunga tanahku

anak-anak tetap bermain
dekat tepi kali seorang perempuan menunggu cucunya
ikan-ikan kecil, bau tanah basah
memberi kemudaan bagi nafasnya


pahamkah kau arti jadi tanah?
pertanyaan ini mungkin tak pernah kaukenal
langit yang melindungimu dari busur matahari
membuatmu lupa pada darah leluhur yang sering menyiram bentukmu

suara delman yang membangunkan perempuan-perempuan pasar
terbungkus jadi dongeng
jauh di seberang, langit mulai kaumusuhi
tak ada karang dan buih bisa dipahat jadi peradaban

pribumi tololkah yang menempati sepetak tanah?
keterasingan membungkus setiap bumi yang dipijak
kita mungkin masih punya Pura
yang kau lirik juga jadi tempat permainan
kemana para leluhur penari Sang Hyang mementaskan keakuannya?

tak ada upacara memikat leluhur pulang
air di tepi kali Badung tak ingin disentuh
perempuan tua yang sering mengantar cucunya
kehilangan kali
berapa silsilah tanah kaupahami?
siapa yang kaupercaya menanggung kesalahan ini?

kalau kau punya pohon
atau tanah yang tak memiliki keharuman bunga padi
pada siapa kau akan bercerita tentang kebesaranmu?

orang-orang tanpa mata, hati, dan kepala
hanya berani meminang keindahan tanahmu
kau menari di atas tubuhnya
katakan padaku, tarian apa yang kau pahami?


selagi para perempuan menitipkan doa lewat bunga-bunga
Pura-Pura menggigil, muntahannya membasahi patung-patung
tangan-tangan asing ikut memberi pahatan
telah bercerita pada hujan
yang tak akan melahirkan benihnya

beratus tarian yang hanya dipahami para dewa luntur
patahannya membunuh bunga-bunga padi

upacara tak lagi memiliki suara sendiri
para perempuan yang sering dibangunkan suara delman
tak lagi tahu keindahan tubuh padi

asap membungkus setiap tanah yang kupijak

kulihat darah mengalir deras
kulihat luka batu karang di lautan
kulihat langit pecah
bahkan tak bisa kubedakan warnanya

orang-orang dari pesisir menyeberang
menanam beratus bangkai baru
pribumikah yang menangis di sudut-sudut kota
tak lagi bisa merangkai upacara dengan bau tanah miliknya

bahkan untuk mencium tanah
para pemilik peta, pemilik kali Badung, pemilik laut
bahkan para dewa harus membayar bau tanah miliknya


mana tanahku yang sempat mengotori kaki kecilku
mana upacara kelahiranku
lengkap dengan beragam bunga dan daun hutan
yang membasuhku jadi pemilik tanah ini
mana para leluhur
yang sering mendongengkan silsilah kebesaran manusia
mana para penari
yang khusuk meminjam malam mempelajari taksu dewa tari

sejarah tak lagi memiliki kebesaran
karena tanah tak lagi kau kenali

selagi daun-daun mempersiapkan kematian
berapa petak tanah kau sisakan untuk penguburan ini?

Denpasar, 1994

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December 01, 2008

Poetry Terminology

Elements of Poetry

The following is a list of the elements of poetry. Take the time to reflect on how each element contributes to a poem's meaning, and then brainstorm ways in which you can use it to further illuminate your own piece's meaning.

POEM: a work of literature in verse that often, but not necessarily, employs meter, rhyme, or figurative language in an attempt to communicate an aesthetic experience or statement which cannot be fully paraphrased in prose.

Poetic Devices

Speaker- voice behind the poem establishing a point of view (can be a persona)

Situation- circumstances surrounding the poem

Diction- choice of words

Syntax- grammatical order of words

Imagery- verbal expression of a sensory detail (visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, or olfactory)

Irony- contradiction of expectation (verbal, situational, or dramatic)

Symbolism- representation in which an object or action represents something beyond itself

Basic Terms

denotation: the dictionary meaning of a word

connotation: the implied or suggested meaning connected with a word

literal meaning: limited to the simplest, ordinary, most obvious meaning

figurative meaning: associative or connotative meaning; representational

meter: measured pattern of rhythmic accents in a line of verse

rhyme: correspondence of terminal sounds of words or of lines of verse

Figurative Language

apostrophe: a 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 (the opposite of understatement)

Example: "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."

metaphor: comparison between essentially unlike things without using words OR application of a name or description to something to which it is not literally applicable

Example: "[Love] is an ever fixed mark, / that looks on tempests and is never shaken."

metonymy: a closely related term substituted for an object or idea

Example: "We have always remained loyal to the crown."

oxymoron: a combination of two words that appear to contradict each other

Example: bittersweet

paradox: a situation or phrase that appears to be contradictory but which contains a truth worth considering

Example: "In order to preserve peace, we must prepare for war."

personification: the endowment of inanimate objects or abstract concepts with animate or living qualities

Example: "Time let me play / and be golden in the mercy of his means"

pun: play on words OR a humorous use of a single word or sound with two or more implied meanings; quibble

Example: "They're called lessons . . . because they lessen from day to day."

simile: comparison between two essentially unlike things using words such as "like," as," or "as though"

Example: "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun"

Poetic Devices

irony: a contradiction of expectation between what is said and what is meant (verbal irony) or what is expected in a particular circumstance or behavior (situational), or when a character speaks in ignorance of a situation known to the audience or other characters (situational)

Example: "Time held me green and dying / Though I sang in my chains like the sea"

imagery: word or sequence of words representing a sensory experience (visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory)

Example: "bells knelling classes to a close" (auditory)

symbol: an object or action that stands for something beyond itself

Example: white = innocence, purity, hope

alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds, particularly at the beginning of words

Example: ". . . like a wanderer white"

assonance: the repetition of similar vowel sounds

Example: "I rose and told him of my woe"

elision: the omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable to preserve the meter of a line of poetry

Example: "Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame"

onomatopoeia: the use of words to imitate the sounds they describe

Example: "crack" or "whir"

allusion: a reference to the person, event, or work outside the poem or literary piece

Example: "Shining, it was Adam and maiden"


open: poetic form free from regularity and consistency in elements such as rhyme, line length, and metrical form

closed: poetic form subject to a fixed structure and pattern

stanza: unit of a poem often repeated in the same form throughout a poem; a unit of poetic lines ("verse paragraph")

blank verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter

free verse: lines with no prescribed pattern or structure

couplet: a pair of lines, usually rhymed

heroic couplet: a pair of rhymed lines is iambic pentameter (tradition of the heroic epic form)

quatrain: four-line stanza or grouping of four lines of verse

sonnet: fourteen line poem in iambic pentameter with a prescribed rhyme scheme; its subject is traditionally that of love

English (Shakespearean) Sonnet: A sonnet probably made popular by Shakespeare with the following rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg

Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnet: A form of sonnet made popular by Petrarch with the following rhyme scheme: abbaabba cdecde OR cdcdcd

Its first octave generally presents a thought, picture, or emotion, while its final sestet presents an explanation, comment, or summary.


stress: greater amount of force used to pronounce one syllable over another

pause: (caesura) a pause for a beat in the rhythm of the verse (often indicated by a line break or a mark of punctuation)

rising meter: meter containing metrical feet that move from unstressed to stressed syllables

iambic (iamb): a metrical foot containing two syllables--the first is unstressed, while the second is stressed

anapestic (anapest): a metrical foot containing three syllables--the first two are unstressed, while the last is stressed

falling meter: meter containing metrical feet that move from stressed to unstressed syllables

trochaic (trochee): a metrical foot containing two syllables--the first is stressed, while the second is unstressed

dactylic (dactyl): a metrical foot containing three syllables--the first is stressed, while the last two are unstressed

spondee: an untraditional metrical foot in which two consecutive syllables are stressed

iambic pentameter: a traditional form of rising meter consisting of lines containing five iambic feet (and, thus, ten syllables)

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