POETRY TERMS 1. Imagery- the descriptive language used in literature to re-create sensory experiences. The images in a work supply details of sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, or movement and help the reader to sense the experience being described. Imagery “Living Tenderly” -Mary Swenson My body a rounded stone with a pattern of smooth seams. My head a short snake, retractive, projective. My legs come out of their sleeves or shrink within, and so does my chin. My eyelids are quick clamps. 2. Figurative Language- one of the elements that make poetry, poetry- based on some sort of comparison that is not literally true. Such language is so natural to us that we use it every day. An example of figurative language: The Budget Committee hammered at the Treasury Secretary for three hours. 3. Metaphor- a figure of speech in which one thing is spoken of as if it were something else. It is an implied comparison through identification. (Death is a long sleep) “Metaphor” -Eve Merriam Morning is A new sheet of paper for you to write on. Whatever you want to say, all day, until night folds it up and files it away. The bright words and the dark words are gone until dawn and a new day to write on. 4. Simile- a figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two subjects using either like or as. simile from “Tiger Year” -Laura Tokunaga planets circle in the gathering dark like pale insects around the opened throats of flowers 5. Personification- type of metaphor in which a nonhuman thing or quality is talked about as if it were human. In the example below, trees are personified as women throwing off their robes. Personification The trees are undressing, and fling in many places On the gray road, the roof, the window sill— Their radiant robes and ribbons and yellow laces --Thomas Hardy, from “Last Week in October” 6. Theme- general idea or insight about life that the work reveals, often is only implied, or suggested. You can identify theme through careful reading, analysis, and thought. 7. Tone- how the speaker’s words communicate the speaker’s attitude toward the poem’s subject. The speaker’s tone helps convey a poem’s meaning and create its effect on its audience. (i.e. - serious, sad , and bitter) 8. Voice/Speaker- the speaker is the imaginary voice assumed by the writer of the poem. In other words, the speaker is the character who says the poem. This character often is not identified by name. 9. Style/Word Choice- A writer’s style is his or her typical way of writing. Style includes word choice, sentence length, grammatical structure, organization, degree of formality, tone, figurative language, and rhythm. 10. Rhythm- the pattern of beat, or stresses, in a spoken or written language. In traditional poetry, regular rhythmic pattern, or meter is used. Poetry that is rhythmic but does not have a regular pattern is called free verse. Instead of following a set metrical pattern, a poem in free verse has its own rhythm that suits its meaning. 11. Rhyme- a repetition of sounds at the ends of words. Rhymed words have the same vowel sounds in their accented syllables. first stanza from “The Raven” -Edgar Allan Poe Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten loreWhile I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door, “ ‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, tapping at my chamber doorOnly this and nothing more. 12. Repetition- reinforces the emotional effect “My cognizance of the pit had become known to the Inquisitorial agents—the pit, whose horrors had been destined for so bold a recusant as myself—the pit, typical hell and regarded by rumor as the ultima Thule of all their punishments. The plunge into this pit I had avoided…” 13. Alliteration- the repetition of initial consonant sounds. Writers and poets use alliteration to create pleasing musical effects. from “I Was a Skinny Tomboy Kid” -Alma Villanueva I grew like a thin, stubborn weed watering myself whatever way I could. 14. Onomatopoeia- the use of words to imitate sounds. Examples of such words include hiss, hum, murmur, and rustle. Robert Frost uses onomatopoeia in this line: “The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard.” Onomatopoeia is used to create musical effects and to reinforce meaning, especially in poetry. 15. Atmosphere- mood or feeling in a work of literature (also called mood) Atmosphere is usually created through descriptive details and evocative language. In “The Pit and the Pendulum,” Edgar Allan Poe creates a dizzying atmosphere of horror. 16. Stanza- group of consecutive lines that form a single unit in a poem. A stanza in a poem is something like a paragraph in prose: It often expresses a unit of thought. A stanza may consist of only one line or of any number of lines beyond that. A.E. Housman’s “Loveliest of Trees” consists of three four-line stanzas, or quatrains, each expressing a unit of thought. 17. Irony- the discrepancy between expectations and reality Samuel Taylor Coleridge uses irony in his poem, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” when he writes: Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. It is ironic that there is water everywhere, but none that is actually drinkable. One would expect that with a lot of water around, one would not go thirsty.