MOOD: the atmosphere or general feeling of the poem; the attitude
elicited, or brought out, in the audience.
TONE: the attitude of the speaker/narrator as conveyed through
his/her language.
THEME: the central idea, general truth or commentary on life or
people; the MESSAGE or MEANING of a piece of work.
PERSONIFICATION: human qualities given to non-living things (e.g.,
the wind whispered).
SIMILE: a direct comparison of two unlike things that have one point
in common, using “like”, “as” or “than” to introduce the comparison (e.g.,
running like the wind).
METAPHOR: an implied comparison of two unlike things that have one
point in common (e.g., The moon was a pearl in the black velvet sky).
SYMBOL: a concrete entity which represents a general idea (e.g., a flag
is a symbol for a country).
CONNOTATION: implications or suggestions found in words or
phrases; figurative meaning as opposed to literal (e.g., home can be any
place or state associated with warmth, comfort and safety).
DENOTATION: meaning that is based on a literal understanding of a
word, or dictionary definition (e.g., home – a physical structure where
one lives).
ALLUSION: direct or indirect reference to an event or person from
history, myth, religion, literature, pop culture, etc.
OXYMORON: two terms, opposite in sense, linked together (e.g., cruel
kindness, wise fool); the placing of these words side by side is called
IMAGERY: a word picture, involving the comparison between the thing
being described and the concrete picture in the poet's mind; includes
similes, metaphors, and other examples of figurative language that
appeal to one's sight.
SENSORY APPEAL: description perceived through one of the five
senses (e.g., for hearing, the screeching of the brakes).
ALLITERATION: the repetition of the initial sound in two or more
words that are consecutive or close together; used to heighten the
rhythmic effect and emphasize an emotion or sensation (e.g., big bad
boys, friendly phone, always avoid aristocrats).
RHYME: repetition of the same sound in different words (e.g.,
may/day, shaken/taken, look/book). The most common form is end
rhyme, which occurs at the end of lines of poetry.
ONOMATOPEIA: words which have a sound that imitates or resembles
the actual sound being referenced (e.g., snap, splash, hiss, zip).
RHYTHM: the pattern of stressed (strong: /) and unstressed (weak: ∪)
syllables in a poem, created through the repetition of a particular
sequence, giving many poems a musical quality.
∪ /
/ ∪
(e.g., He clasps the crag with crooked hands.)