Poetry Terms

“The difference between the
right word and the almost right
word is the difference between
lightning and a lightning bug.”
-Mark Twain
Concrete vs. Abstract
• Poetry is concerned with the concrete, the
specific, the particular
• Concrete terms- sensory language
• “The poet is a professor of the five bodily
• Concrete- violet, bread, sunlight, surf and
• refer to ideas or concepts; they have no physical
• Examples of abstract terms include love,
success, freedom, good, moral, democracy, and
any -ism ( Communism, feminism, racism).
These terms are fairly common and familiar, and
because we recognize them we may imagine
that we understand them—but we really can't,
because the meanings won't stay still.
Abstract Ideas
We mean you no harm.
To you our swords have
leaden points, Mark
We cannot trust anyone. Where we are, there’s
daggers in
I often change my mind. I am a feather for each
wind that blows.
In a Station of a Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
-Ezra Pound
Types of Poems
Ballad: A poem that uses simple language and a
great deal of repetition to tell a sensational story
of tragedy or adventure.
Lyric Poem: A poem that expresses a writer’s
thoughts and feelings on a given subject.
Narrative Poem: A poem that tells a story or
relays a sequence of related events.
Alliteration: The repetition of the same or
similar consonant sounds in words that are
close together.
It is used to create musical effects, speed or
slow the pace of the meter, or cause an
image to “stick” in the mind of the reader.
repetition of vowel sounds
but not consonant sounds
Examples: Try to light the
He gave a nod to the officer
with the pocket.
“The Eagle”
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
He clasps the crag with
crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely
Ring’d with the azure world, he
The wrinkled sea beneath him
He watches from his mountain
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Alliteration and Consonance
Alliteration: The repetition of the
same or similar consonant
sounds at the beginning of words
That are close together.
Consonance: The repetition of
like consonant sounds in the
middle and end of words.
Assonance: The repetition of
similar vowel sounds.
Alliteration, Consonance, and
Assonance are used to create
musical effects and to establish
Mood and tone.
From “Song of Myself #1”
by Walt Whitman
“I celebrate myself, and sing
And what I assume you shall
For every atom belonging to
me as good belongs to you.
I loaf and invite my soul,
I lean and loaf at my ease,
observing a spear of summer
Diction = Word Choice
A poet communicates through the words he
uses. He often draws on the Connotative
meaning of words to reveal his attitude or
tone. The Connotation of a word is the
emotional attachment or association with its
meaning. The Denotative meaning is the
word’s Dictionary definition.
Let’s Explore Connotation!
 What is the dictionary or
denotative meaning of the
word “loser”?
 What does the word “loser”
imply connotatively?
 What is the dictionary or
denotative meaning of the
word “gifted.”
 What is the connotation of the
A figure of speech which is an exaggeration or
Examples: expressions such as "I nearly died
laughing," "I was hopping mad," and "I tried a
thousand times,” “I'm so hungry I could eat a
Such statements are not literally true, but
people make them to sound impressive or to
emphasize something, such as a feeling,
effort, or reaction.
Painting a picture with words,
sensory language, and
Example: The bright yellow
Flowers swayed in the light
afternoon breeze.
Simile and Metaphor
Simile: Making a
between two unlike
things using “like,”
“as,” or “than.”
Metaphor: Making
the same
comparison without
the comparative
by Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
• The use of words
whose sound imitates
or suggests its
meaning like buzz,
bang, pow, zoom,
clomp, etc.
• This form of imagery
appeals to the sense
of hearing.
A figure of speech that combines opposites
or expresses a seemingly contradictory
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
The room held a deafening silence.
Giving human
qualities to
animals or
nonliving things
Example: Time stood still.
The car hugged the road.
word or object that stands for another word
or object
Example: The object or word can be seen
with the eye or not visible. For example a
dove stands for Peace. The dove can be
seen and peace cannot.
Rhyme Scheme
Pattern of rhymes in a poem. Rhyme scheme is
usually referred to by letters representing the
rhyming words, so that one can refer to an abab
rhyme scheme.
Example: Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet
And so are you!
Internal Rhyme:
Rhyme that occurs within a line of poetry or within
consecutive lines.
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered,
weak and weary,…
Ah distinctly I remember it was in the bleak
“The Raven”
Poetic Forms
Stanza: unit of a poem
often repeated in the
same form throughout
a poem; a unit of
poetic lines ("verse
Free verse: lines with no
prescribed pattern or
Couplet: a pair of lines,
usually rhymed
“Heart! We will forget him!”
by Emily Dickinson
Heart! We will forget him!
You and I – tonight!
You may forget the warmth he
gave –
I will forget the light!
When you have done, pray tell
That I may straight begin!
haste! Lest while you’re lagging
I remember him!
Who Is the Poet?
Identifying the VOICE, or literary
personality, and TONE of the
poet is very important in
understanding his message.
The TONE is the author’s
attitude about the subject and
can be determined by the
words, phrases, and images he
uses. TONE is expressed in
emotions, such as angry, joyful,
sad, etc.
Note: Often a poet’s TONE shifts
or changes through the poem
Ink runs from the corners of my
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
~Mark Strand
writer's attitude toward the material
and/or readers.
Tone may be playful, formal, intimate,
angry, serious, ironic, outraged,
baffled, tender, serene, depressed,
“Apparently with no
Apparently with no surprise
To any happy Flower
The Frost beheads it at its play –
In accidental power –
The Blonde Assassin passes on –
The Sun proceeds unmoved
To measure off another Day
For an Approving God.
~ Emily Dickinson
“A Dream Deferred”
by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore ---And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over --Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Reflect on one of the following quotes in your notes
Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a
dash of the dictionary.
~Kahlil Gibran
A poem is never finished, only abandoned.
~Paul Valéry
To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie –
True Poems flee.
~Emily Dickinson
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