Versification in English Poetry
Versification in english poetry: Meter: Types of feet Each line of poetry may be divided into metrical units known as feet. A foot is a group of syllables combined in one of several patterns. These syllables, usually one to three in number, have a definite value in relation to each other. In the Classical languages the difference in the value of syllables depended upon what was known as quantity-that is, the amount of time required to pronounce the syllables; the syllables were called long or short and were so indicated in any scheme of metrical analysis. In English poetry, however, the basis of determining the value of syllables is not quantity but accent. Several systems of notating accent are used, including the classical long and short marks: u-v; and the marks to indicate accented and unaccented syllables (also referred to as stressed and unstressed): /u/u or /x/x Common types of metrical feet in English poetry: Iamb or iambus: consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable: begin, return, delight, away She danced| a long| with vague, |regard| less eyes: Keats, The eyes of St. Agnes Trochees (trochaic foot) consists of an stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable: mother, mary, twilight, golden, never Thou, when| thou re| turn`st, wilt| tell me: Donne, Song Dactyl consists of one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed: beautiful, happiness, metrical We that had| loved him so,| followed him, | honored him: Browning, The Lost Leader The following types of metrical feet are less common: Spondee (spondaic foot) consists of two equally stressed syllables, seen usually in compound words or when important monosyllables come together, as blood-red, heart-break, childhood. However, many prosodists claim that one of the two words should receive only a secondary accent: Oh no,|oh no,| True Thorn| as, she says: Anon, Thomas Rymer Amphibrach (amphibrachic foot) consists of three syllables, an unstressed, a stressed and another unstressed: severely, momentous. This should not be confused with the anapest. Amphibrach is useful as a term to apply, for example to the last metrical unit of an imperfect line (a line having one or more variations from the prevailing meter) in a stanza clearly established as iambic: In sum| mertime| on brendon The bells| they sound| so clear; Round both| the shires| they ring them In stee| ples far| and near, A hap| py noise| to hear: Housman, Brendon Hill Amphimacer consists of three syllables, a stressed, an unstressed, and another stressed: jack and jill, take it back. Amphimacer is a useful term to apply to the last metrical unit of an imperfect line in a stanza clearly established as trochaic: Ever| let the| fancy roam, Pleasure| never| is at home: At a| touch sweet| pleasure| melteth, Like to| bubbles| when rain| pelteth: Keats, Fancy To emphasize the effect of different arrangements of stressed and unstressed syllables, the iambic and the anapestic feet are sometimes classified as rising meters because the stressed syllable follows one or two unstressed syllables, as return, effervesce. Similarly, the trochaic and the dactylic feet are classified as falling meters because the stressed syllable comes first: laughter, syllable. Scansion A line of verse is name according to the number and the kind of feet it contains. The process of determining those factors is called scansion; it involves the division of the line into syllables-stressed and unstressed-and the demarcation of those syllables into feet. A line of poetry containing one foot is called monometer; tow feet dimeter; three feet trimeter; four feet tetrameter; five feet pentameter; six feet hexameter; seven feet heptameter; eight feet octometer. Iambic foot is the most common in English; it’s found chiefly in tetrameter and pentameter lines. In scanning poetry one must pay attention to the meaning as well as to the rhythm and must be careful not to mispronounce words or to distort the emphasis of the sentence. Caesura
Nearly every line of verse of three or more feet contains a rhythmical pause known as the caesura, a name derived from Classical prosody. Some lines may have two or more pauses, but only the more emphatic one is the caesura. Although it is usual for this pause to come near the middle of the line, it may occur anywhere, between feet or within them. Indeed, variety and effectiveness are gained by a constant shifting of the esura in succeeding lines. As a rule, the caesura coincides with a pause in the sense. If the pause follows an accented syllable, the caesura is said to be masculine; if it follows an unaccented syllable, it is said to be feminine. A caesura is commonly indicated thus 11 .Each of the two segments of a line of poetry so divided is called a hemistich. Note the caesuras in the following lines from Milton's Paradise Lost. Feminine caesuras occur in lines 2 and 10; the others are masculine. High on a throne of royal state, // which far Outshone the wealth of Ormusil and of Ind, Or where the gorgeous East // with richest hand Showers on her kings // barbaric pearl and gold, Satan exalted sat, // I by merit raised To that bad eminence; // and, from despair Thus high uplifted beyond hope, // I aspires Beyond thus high, // insatiate to pursue Vain war with Heaven; // and, by success untaught, His proud imaginationsl // thus displayed. -Milton, Paradise Lost Alexandrine
The Alexandrine is a line composed of six iambic feet; it is so called because it was used in Old French poems on Alexander the Great. Although widely used in France, it has never become popular in England. It was used in the Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester (c. 1300), along with a seven-accent line; occasionally in the miracle and the morality plays; and in Drayton's Polyolbion (c. 1613). When the Alexandrine was alternated with the sevenaccent line, the combination was called poulter's measure, because in the words of George Gascoigne (1575) the poulterer "giveth twelve for one dozen, and thirteen for another." Henry How ard, Earl of Surrey, thus illustrates poulter's measure: Pope characterized the Alexandrine as "languishingly slow"A needless Alexandrine ends the song / That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.
-Pope, An Essay on Criticism Blank verse The most stately meter in English poetry is blank verse-that is, unrhymed verse written in iambic pentameter measure. As far as we know, the Earl of Surrey (c. 1517-1547) was the first English poet to use it. He borrowed it from Italian writers employed it in a translation of two books of the Aeneid. Because of its vigor and majesty, it also became the established measure for English epics and other dignified narrative verse, like Keats's Hy perion and Tennyson's Idylls of the King. Variations in feet As can be seen in some of the preceding examples, all feet in a line of verse need not be of the same kind. Indeed, if they were, in a poem of any length the result would be not only obviously monotonous but also rather unnatural in phrasing. Thus variety in metrical pattern is both essential and pleasing. Sometimes a line contains more or fewer syllables than the prevailing number. The addition of one or two syllables at the beginning of a line is known as anacrusis; a weak or feminine ending. The omission of syllables at the beginning of a line is called truncation; at the end of a line, catalexis. A line terminating in an imperfect foot is thus called catalectic. If the line ends with a complete metrical foot, it is acatalectic. In the scansion of a line of verse a caret (A) may be used to indicate the omission of a syllable. Free verse Free verse (or vers libre) is rhythmical poetry written without regard to set patterns of meter, rhyme, or length of line. It depends for its effect upon cadence, upon subtle variations in rhythm and in length of line, upon recurring images, and upon what Amy Lowell, an ardent exponent of the form, called "a delicate sense of balance."
The essential quality of free verse is inherent in English poetry from its very beginning. It is seen in the irregularity and the vigorous swing of Anglo-Saxon verse, with its varying alliterative design; and it appears also in Middle English poems, like Piers Plowman, that were written in alliterative pattern. Any poem that relies only upon rhyme as its distinguishing metrical mark and derives its peculiar power from irregularity of rhythm and form suggests a tendency toward the structure of free verse. Such poems are Dryden's Alexander's Feast, Coleridge's Kubla Khan, and Arnold's Dover Beach. Then, too, there are unrhymed poems that approximate free verse, such as Arnold's Philomela. The American poet Walt Whitman is one of the greatest masters of free verse. When I heard the learned astronomer; When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them; When 1, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick; Till, rising and gliding out, I wandered off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, Looked up in perfect silence at the stars. -Walt Whitman, When I Heard the Learned Astronomer Among modern poets writing free verse Ezra Pound and D. H. Lawrence have been particularly successful. Consonance Though consonance generally means the harmony of sounds, as opposed to dissonance, the discord or incongruity of sounds, the word has a specific application to the use of language in poetry: consonance is the recurrence of certain consonants in combination with various vowels and other consonants. The underlined consonants in the lines below illustrate this effect.
Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia is said to occur when the sound of a word echoes the sense of the word. There is indeed a small group of genuinely onomatopoetic words, such as murmur, buzz, clang, crack, boom. Coleridge, in the following passage from Cbristabel, makes obvious use of such words: And the owls have awakened the crowing cock, Tu-whit!-Tu-whoo!
--Coleridge, Christabel It should be emphasized that the meaning of a word is of primary importance and its onomatopoetic effect always secondary. Qualitative classification of lines: Run-on is in a poem a line that continues into the following line without a pause or punctuation. Used to create a sense of forward motion, as in the following quote from Shelley: Teach me half the gladness That thy brain must know (to a skylark) It is almost used in blank verse. Keats used it in Endymion of which the first and fifth lines are end-stopped while the lines in between are run-on lines: A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing. An end-stopped line end with a pause, however brief, often indicated by a punctuation mark. End-stopping are the opposite of run-on lines Amphibious broken lines Occur in plays written in verse; a single line is made up of two or three brief cues uttered by two or several characters.
Stichomythis is a form of dramatic dialogue in which two disputing characters answer each other rapidly in alternating single lines, with one character’s replies balancing (and often partially repeating) the other’s utterances. This kind of verbal duel or ‘cut and thrust’ dialogue was practised more in ancient greek and roman tragedy than in later drama, although a notable English example occurs in the dialogue between Kate and Petruchio in Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew. Poetry can be written in blank verse or in rhyming lines. Blank verse is unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter: One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield: Tennyson’s, Ulysses Classification of rhymes Considering the place of the final stress in a line, we can refer to feminine or masculine rhyme. Feminine rhyme the accented syllable is the penultimate or antepenultimate one: ‘handy’ rhyming with ‘candy’. Masculine rhyme the final syllable of the line is accented, as in ‘had we but world enough and time,/this coyness, Lady, were no crime’. Crossed rhyme has the effect of making the couplet sound like a quatrain rhyming abab: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: Shakespeare Framing rhymes occur in a quatrain rhyming abba: When I consider how my light is spent Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent….: John Milton, sonnet 16 Rhyming couplets aabb were the favourite rhyme throughout the Restoration (1600-1700) and the first half of the eighteenth century. Andrew Marvell and Alexander Pope (poetry) and John Dryden (drama) best illustrate this tendency. The lines either rhyming or written as blank verse, are combined in strophic patterns. A stanza is a group of two or more lines of poetry combined according to some definite plan and constituting a division of a poem. The effect of a stanza depends upon the rhyme scheme, the length of the lines, and other metrical devices. Short lines may be used to suggest intensity, as long lines tend to reflect greater leisureliness. A quick succession of rhymes may suggest compactness and restraint, as unrhymed lines or separated rhymes may suggest freedom or relaxation. Technical variations can provide interest and prevent what otherwise might become monotony. Most important, stanza patterns should be appropriate to or reflect the nature of the subject. As a rule, stanzas are classified according to the number of their lines; a few, however, derive their names from special uses or origins. Couplet Two line stanza rhyming aa. Lines rhyming in pairs are considered couplets. The technical name is distich. Chaucer established the use of couplets in English, notably in Canterbury Tales, using iambic pentameter later known as heroic couplets. The two lines of the heroic couplet expresses a fairly complete thought, with the second line often reinforcing the first; because of this completeness, with the thought ending with the second line, the couplet is said to be closed or end-stopped. The closed couplet was the favorite medium of the didactic and satiric verse of the neoclassical period of English literature, and it is well suited to those types. It is also particularly appropriate for epigrams. A form
revived in the seventeenth century by Ben Jonson, Dryden and others, partly as the equivalent in heroic drama of the alexandrine couplets which were the standard verse-form of French drama in that century. Alexander Pope followed Dryden’s use of heroic couplets in non-dramatic verse to become the master of the form, notably in his use of closed couplets. Following are examples of the tetrameter measure-octosyllabic couplets:
The western waves of ebbing day Rolled o'er the glen their level way; Each purple peak, each flinty spire, Was bathed in floods of living fire: Scott, The Lady of the Lake Tercet
Is a unit of three verse lines, usually rhyming either with each other or with neighbouring lines. The three-line stanzas of terza rima and of the villanelle are known as tercets. The sestet of an Italian sonnet is composed of two tercets. But it is most successful when used with an intricate rhyme scheme known as terza rima, a scheme, borrowed from the Italian, rhyming aba, bcb, cdc, and so on; Dante's Divine Comedy is the best example of its use. Notice that the middle line of one stanza sets the rhyme for the stanza following, a pattern of great charm in that it makes the movement of verse continuous by binding one stanza to another. Note how Shelley completes the pattern with a couplet; another plan closes with a fourline stanza rhyming alternately. The quotation from Auden is in terza rima, but employs slant rhyme: The sap dries up: the plant declines. A deeper tale my heart divines. Know I not Death? The outward signs? In the hour of my distress, When temptations me oppress, And when I my sins confess: Tennyson, The Two Voices Quatrain
Four line stanza. The most familiar variations: Ballad stanza (rhyming abcb) The folk ballad and many ballads written in imitation of the folk ballad use the four-line stanza with alternating tetrameters and trimeters, and with the trimeters rhyming. Other well-known types of ballad stanzas rhyme abab and aabb and employ a scheme of line lengths different from the one indicated here. There lived a wife at Usher's Well, And a wealthy wife was she; She had three stout and stalwart sons, And sent them o'er the sea. -Anon., The Wife of Usher's Well
The bride hath paced into the hall, Red as a rose is she; Nodding their heads before her goes The merry minstrelsy. --Coleridge, The Rime Of the Ancient Mariner The heroic quatrain, or elegiac stanza (rhyming abab) The heroic quatrain, or elegiac stanza, another popular quatrain in English poetry, is composed of iambic pentameter lines rhyming alternately. Other meters and line lengths also are common. The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea; The plowman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me. --Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Only a sweet and virtuous soul, Like a season'd timber, never gives; But though the whole world turn to coal, Then chiefly lives. -George Herbert, Virtme One rhyming pair enclosing another (rhyming abba) Tennyson's In Memoriam, the most famous poem using this stanza form, is notable at once for its continuous dignity and its simple melody. As shown in the second example below, this formal stanza is also used effectively by contemporary poets. Thy voice is on the rolling air; I hear thee where the waters run; Thou standest in the rising sun, And in the setting thou art fair. I praise the fall it is the human season
-Tennyson, In Memoriam Three rhyming lines (rhyming aaba) A four-line stanza with three rhyming lines is some what rare; it is used very effectively in FitzGerald's The Rubdiydt of Omar Khayydm.
· Book of Verses underneath the Bough, · jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread-and Thou Beside me singing in the WildernessOh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
-FitzGerald, The Rubdiydt Two couplets (rhyming aabb) Many quatrains are composed of two couplets. A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew, And the young winds fed it with silver dew, And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light, And closed them beneath the kisses of Night. -Shelley, The Sensitive Plant Four rhyming lines (rhyming aaaa) Occasionally a poet uses a quatrain employing only one rhyme. From perfect grief there need not be Wisdom or even memory; One thing then learned remains to me The woodspurge has a cup of three. -Rossetti, The Woodspurge THEQUINTAIN (five-line stanza) Various combinations of line length, meter, and rhyme may comprise this stanza. The following one in iambic tetrameter rhyming aahab is representative. My lute, awake! Perform the last Labor that thou and I shall waste, And end that I have now begun; For when this song is sung and past, My lute, be still, for I have done. -Wyatt, The Lover Complaineth the Unkindness of His Love THE SEXTAIN (six-line stanza) Various combinations of six lines may comprise this stanza. 0 mistress mine, where are you roaming? 0, stay and hear; your true love's coming, That can sing both high and low. Trip no further, pretty sweeting, journeys end in lovers meeting, Every wise man's son doth know. -Shakespeare, Song from Twelfth Night One of the interesting special stanzas in English poetry is the tail-rhyme stanza, made up of two parts, each of which has a short line (or tail) following longer lines; the two tails rhyme independently. A common form of this stanza, consisting of six
lines (four rhyming tetrameters and two rhyming dimeters), was a favorite with Burns; hence it is often called the Burns stanza.
0 wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An' foolish notion: What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, An' ev'n devotion!
Fresh as the flower, whose modest worth He sang, his genius "glinted" forth, Rose like a star that touching earth, For so it seems, Doth glorify its humble birth -Burns, To a Louse With matchless beams. -Wordsworth, At the Grave of Barns CHAUCERIAN STANZA, OR RHYME ROYAL (seven-line stanza-rhyming ababbc) Because James I of Scotland wrote a Scottish poem in which he used an iambic pentameter seven-line stanza, that form is often called rhyme royal, it was Chaucer, however, who first used it in English, and for this reason the term "Chaucerian stanza" is greatly to be preferred. The rhyme scheme of the stanza makes it suitable for both lyric and narrative poetry.
The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne, Thassay so hard, so sharp the conqueringe, The dredful joye, that alwey slit so yerne, Al this mene I by love, that my felinge Astonyeth with his wonderful worchinge So sore y-wis, that whan I on him thinke, Nat wot I wel wher that I wake or winke.
-Chaucer, The Parliament of Fowls OTTAVA RIMA (eight-line stanza-rhyming abababcc) This stanza, consisting of eight iambic pentameter lines, is adopted from the Italian, from which it takes its name. A peculiarly flexible stanza form, it was admirably suited, for example, to Byron's many moods as expressed in Beppo and Don Juan,
The coast-I think it was the coast that I Was just describing-Yes, it was the coast Lay at this period quiet as the sky, The sands untumbled, the blue waves untost, And all was stillness, save the sea-bird's cry, And dolphin's leap, and little billow crost By some low rock or shelve, that made it fret Against the boundary it scarcely wet. -Byron, Don Juan THE SPENSERIAN STANZA (nine-line stanza
Edmund Spenser wrote his Faerie Queene in stanzas composed of eight iambic pentameter lines followed by a hexameter line, an Alexandrine. It will be observed that the Spenserian stanza is an extension of the Chaucerian by the addition of two lines, one the Alexandrine, but both tied into the original rhyme scheme. The Alexandrine does, however, detach itself to some extent from the rest of the stanza. Often, for example, Spenser will move in the final line from narration to reflection; or he will use the line to summarize a situation.
Much daunted with that dint, her sence was dazd, Yet kindling rage, her selfe she gathered round, And all attonce her beastly body raizd With doubled forces high above the ground: Tho wrapping up her wrethed sterne arownd, Lept fierce upon his shield, and her huge traine All suddenly about his body wound, That hand or foot to stirre he strove in vaine: God helpe the man so wrapt in Errours endlesse traine. -Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Bk. 1, 1, 18
The stanza is named after Edmund Spenser, who invented it – probably on the basis of the ottava rima stanza – for his long allegorical romance The Faerie Queene (1590-6). It was revived successfully by the younger English Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century: Byron used it for Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812, 1816), Keats for “The Eve of St Agnes” (1820), and Shelley for The Revolt of Islam (1818) and Adonais (1821). Although the stanza is capable of a form of "climax," it is obvious that it is a difficult medium for narrative since the continuity is broken every nine lines. Apart from Spenser, the stanza has only seldom been used effectively. It is interesting to notice Keats's use of it in the Eve of St. Agnes and Shelley's in Adonais. Forms of English poetry The forms of English poetry divide into two groups, those which are fixed according to a rhyme scheme and stanza arrangement, and those which are technically flexible but meet certain conditions of content or treatment of the subject. FIXED FORMS: THE SONNET
The sonnet is a complete poem of fourteen iambic pentameter lines. Its rhyme scheme varies according to the basic arrangement of the content. The Italian or Petrarchan sonnet The Italian, or Petrarchan sonnet, named after the Italian poet Petrarch (1304-1374), consists of two parts -an,octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines). The octave is really two quatrains, rhyming abba abba; in these eight lines the poet formally presents his thought or emotion. The sestet, rhyming cde cde or cd cd cd, contains an answer, a reflection, a counteremotion, or some other resolution by way of concluding the poem. In the following example, note the importance of the word Then at the beginning of the sestet, which indicates that what follows ig directly dependent on what has previously been stated in the octave. Much have I traveled in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne; Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I beard Chapman speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He stared at the Pacific-and all his men Looked at each other with a wild surmise Silent, upon a peak in Darien. -Keats, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
Wordsworth's sonnet The World Is Too Much with Us represents an interesting variation in that the first unit of thought, the octave, requires 81/2 of the four teen lines.
The English or Shakespearean sonnet The English or Shakespearean sonnet is associated with the poet's name because he was the first to develop the full potentiality of this form. Its particular structure was actually devised by the Earl of Surrey after he and Sir Thomas Wyatt adopted the sonnet form into English literature from the Italian poets. The English sonnet consists of three quatrains, which present three points or aspects of an idea, and a concluding couplet which summarizes or ties together what has been expressed in the quatrains. The rhyme scheme, subject to some variation, is abab cded efef gg. The perfect fusion of form and content which the English sonnet allows is shown in the following example, where the phrase in me in the first line of each quatrain emphasizes the series of closely related thoughts being expressed, and where the pronoun This at the beginning of the couplet points back clearly to what has preceded. That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou see'st the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed whereon it must expire, Consumed with that which it was nourished by. This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long. -Shakespeare, Sonnet 73 The Spenserian sonnet Spenser rearranged the rhymes of the Petrarchan sonnet and sought to gain continuity through an interlocking pattern similar to that of his famous Spenserian stanza. Indeed the rhyme scheme of the first eight lines of this stanza is employed in twelve lines of the Spenserian sonnet-rhyming abab bcbc cdcd. The concluding lines of the sonnet are a couplet ee. Usually, the effect is close to that of an English sonnet, but the division into quatrains is more arbitrary, less functional.
Fresh spring the herald of loves mighty king, in whose cote armour richly are displayed all sorts of flowers the which on earth do spring in goodly colours gloriously arrayd. Goe to my love, where she is carelesse layd, yet in her winters bowre not well awake: tell her the joyous time will not be staid unlesse she doe him by the forelock take. Bid her therefore her selfe soone ready make, to wayt on love amongst his lovely crew: where every one that misseth then her make, shall be by him amearst with penance dew. Make hast therefore sweet love, whilest it is prime, for none can call againe the passed time. -Spenser, Amoretti, 70 The single-statement sonnet Sometimes poets employ the rhyme scheme of either the Italian or English sonnet, but do not develop the content to fit the form. In the following sonnet, for example, Milton describes his vision without any regard for the natural break in sense between what would ordinarily be the octave and sestet.
Methought I saw my late espoused saint Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave, Rescued from death by force though pale and faint. Mine as whom washed from spot of child-bed taint, Purification in the old law did save, And such, as yet once more I trust to have Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint, Came vested all in white, pure as her mind. Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight, Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined, So clear, as in no face with more delight. But 0, as to embrace me she inclined, I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night,
-Milton, On His Deceased Wife FIXED FORMS: FRENCH From the time of the Middle Ages, when Chaucer, who lived at the court of Edward 111, came under French influences, until the twentieth century, when Ezra Pound aroused enthusiasm for early romance literature, man), of the old French verse forms have been gracefully and effectively imitated. In the last part of the nineteenth century, Lang, Dobson, Henley, and Swinburne made a concerted effort to revive French forms, though not with unqualified artistic success. These forms are particularly adapted to light verse but have lent themselves to serious themes as well. Difficlut to imitate because of their precise rhyme schemes, they have remained a perennial formal challenge to English poets. The villanelle The villanelle consists of five three-line stanzas rhyming aba and a concluding stanza of four lines rhyming abaa, Only two rhymes are used, and a delightful sound effect is achieved by repetition. The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the second and the fourth stanzas; the third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas; and these two lines are repeated together as the final couplet of the concluding quatrain. Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills. It is not the effort nor the failure tires. The waste remains, the waste remains and kills. It is not your system or clear sight that mills Down small to the consequence a life requires; Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills. They bled an old dog dry yet the exchange rills Of young dog blood gave but a month's desires; The waste remains, the waste remains and kills. It is the Chinese tombs and the slag hills Usurp the soil, and not the soil retires. Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills. Not to have fire is to be a skin that shrills. The complete fire is death. From partial fires The waste remains, the waste remains and kills. It is the poems you have lost, the ills From missing dates, at which the heart expires. Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills. The waste remains, the waste remains and kills. -William Empson, Missing Dates
The triolet The triolet, also using only two rhymes, employs eight short lines. Its effect is enhanced by the triple recurrence of the first line, and by the repetition of the second line at the close, The form is characterized by daintiness as well as by liveliness. Rose kissed me today. Will she kiss me tomorrow? Let it be as it may, Rose kissed me today.
But the pleasure gives way To a savor of sorrow; .Rose kissed me today Will she kiss me tomorrow? -Dobson, A Kiss
The rondeau Another interesting form running on two rhymes is the rondeam. it consists usually of fifteen lines, arranged in three stanzas. The last line of the second and third stanzas is a refrain taken from the beginning of the first line. Although in France it appears chiefly as a vehicle of French wit, the rondeau lends itself almost equally well in English to both light and serious use. It is the most popular of the French adaptations.
In after days when grasses high O'ertop the stone where I shall lie, Though ill or well the world adjust My slender claim to honored dust, I shall not question nor reply. I shall not see the morning sky; I shall not hear the night-wind sigh; I shall be mute, as all men must In after days! But yet, now living, fain would I That some one then should testify, Saying-"He held his pen in trust To Art, not serving shame or lust." Will none?-Then let my memory die In after days! -Dobson, Io After Days The rondel (roundel) The rondel is a poem of thirteen lines (occasionally fourteen), written in three stanzas and using only two rhymes, as in the three preceding formal patterns. It also employs repetition similar to that in the triolet. Ordinarily the first two lines of the first stanza are repeated as the last two lines of the second and third stanzas; sometimes only the first line is repeated in the last stanza. Note in the following rondel from The Parliament of Fowls, that Chaucer repeats the first two lines of the poem as a refrain in the second stanza, and the entire first stanza as a refrain in the third. The Ballade
The ballade (not to be confused with the ballad) consists of three stanzas of eight or ten lines each and a concluding envoy (l'envoi, a postscript) of from four to six lines. The entire poem rusn on three or four rhymes, but no rhyme word may be repeated; all stanzas conclude with the same refrain. Figures of speech The simile draws a comparison between two dissimilar elements using the word “like” or “as”, for example “He fought like a tiger” or as in Wordsworth’s line: “I wondered lonely as a cloud”. A very common figure of speech in both prose and verse, simile is more tentative and decorative than metaphor. A lengthy and more elaborate kind of simile, used as a digression in a narrative work, is the epic simile. The metaphor is a comparison of things essentially unlike, drawn without the use of words such as “like” and “as”. Metaphor occurs as an implied analogy, and it consists of two concepts: – the tenor (the subject of the comparison); – the vehicle (the image by which the idea is conveyed).
The tenor is always present; the vehicle is usually absent: inT. S. Eliot’s “the yellow fog that rubs its back against the window-pane”, the fog is implicitly compared with a cat; In the metaphor the road of life, the tenor is life, and the vehicle is the road. Another dictionary definition describes metaphor as a figure of speech in which one thing is spoken of as though it were something else. Unlike a simile, which compares two things using “like” or “as”, a metaphor states the comparison directly. For example, “Life’s but a walking shadow” in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Here is yet another definition: metaphor is, specifically, a comparison of things essentially unlike, drawn without the use of words such as “like” and “as”. (Metaphor occurs when one thing is directly called something else: “John Smith is a snake in the grass”; “Denmark’s a prison”). According to a more elaborate definition, metaphor is a figure of speech in which one thing, idea, or action is referred to by a word or expression normally denoting another thing, idea, or action, so as to suggest some common quality shared by the two. In metaphor, this resemblance is assumed as an imaginary identity rather than directly stated as a comparison: referring to a man as that pig, or saying he is a pig is metaphorical, whereas he is like a pig is a simile. Metaphors may also appear as verbs (a talent may blossom) or as adjectives (a novice may be green), or in longer idiomatic phrases, e.g. to throw the baby out with the bathwater. A mixed metaphor is one in which the combination of qualities suggested is illogical or ridiculous, usually as a result of trying to apply two metaphors to one thing: those vipers stabbed us in the back. The epithet is an adjective or adjectival phrase used to define a characteristic quality or attribute of some person or thing. Common in historical titles (Catherine the Great, Ethelred the Unready), “stock” epithets have been used in poetry since Homer. The Homeric epithet is an adjective (usually compound adjective) repeatedly used for the same thing or person: “the wine-dark sea” and “rosy-fingered Dawn” are famous examples. In the transferred epithet, an adjective appropriate to one noun is attached to another by association: thus in the phrase “sick room” it is not strictly the room that is sick but the person in it. The personification implies giving the attribute of a human being to an animal, object or idea, as in Sir Philip Sidney’s line: “Invention, Nature’s child, fled step-dame Study’s blows”. It is a type of figurative language in which a non-human subject is given human characteristics. “My car has decided to quit on me” is an example of personification from everyday speech. This figure or trope is known in Greek as prosopopoeia. It is common in most ages of poetry, and particularly in the eighteenth century. It has a special function as the basis of allegory. In drama, the term is sometimes applied to the impersonation of non-human things and ideas by human actors. The apostrophe is a figure of speech in which a character or an abstract quality is directly addressed as if present. It is a rhetorical figure in which the speaker addresses a dead or absent person, or an abstraction or inanimate object. In classical rhetoric, the term could also denote a speaker’s turning to address a particular member or section of the audience. Apostrophes are found frequently among the speeches of Shakespeare’s characters, as when Elizabeth in Richard III addresses the Tower of London: “Pity, you ancient stones, those tender babes, / Whom envy hath immured within your walls.” The figure, usually employed for emotional emphasis, can become ridiculous when misapplied, as in Wordsworth’s line “Spade! with which Wilkinson hath tilled his lands”. The apostrophe is one of the conventions appropriate to the ode and to the elegy. The poet’s invocation of a muse in epic poetry is a special form of apostrophe. The antithesis is a strong contrast between words, clauses, ideas. In rhetoric it is described as any disposition of words that serves to emphasize a contrast or opposition of ideas, usually by the balancing of connected clauses with parallel grammatical constructions. In Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), the characteristics of Adam and Eve are contrasted by antithesis: For contemplation he and valour formed, The softness she and sweet attractive grace; He for God only, she for God in him. Antithesis was cultivated especially by Pope and other eighteenth century poets. It is also a familiar device in prose, as in John Ruskin’s sentence, “Government and cooperation are in all things the laws of life; anarchy and competition the laws of death.” The paradox is an apparent contradiction that is nevertheless somehow true; it is a statement that seems selfcontradictory or absurd, but that expresses a truth (although some paradoxes cannot be resolved into truths, remaining flatly self-contradictory, e.g. Everything I say is a lie). The paradox is frequently used to express the complexities of life that do not easily lend themselves to simple statement. Paradoxes abound, for example, in the Scriptures: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Wordsworth’s line “the Child is father of the Man” and Shakespeare’s “the truest poetry is the most feigning” are notable literary examples. Ancient theorists of rhetoric described paradox as a figure of speech, but twentieth century critics have
given it a higher importance as a mode of understanding by which poetry challenges our habits of thought. Paradox was cultivated especially by poets of the seventeenth century, often in the verbally compressed form of oxymoron. It is also found in the prose epigram. In a wider sense, the term may also be applied to a person or situation characterized by striking contradictions. John Donne is the great master of paradoxes in English poetry, as in the lines “One short sleep past, we wake eternally, / And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!” in one of his “Holy Sonnets”. The figures of repetition are: – epizeuxis, a rhetorical figure by which a word is repeated for emphasis, with no other words intervening: “Words, words, words”; – anadiplosis can be visually represented as (……x / x……); it is a rhetorical figure of repetition in which a word or phrase appears both at the end of one clause, sentence, or stanza, and at the beginning of the next, thus linking the two units, as in the final line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 154: “Love’s fire heats water, water cools not love.” – anaphora can be visualized as (x……/ x……); it is a rhetorical figure of repetition in which the same word or phrase is repeated in (and usually at the beginning of) successive lines, clauses, or sentences. Found very often in both verse and prose, it was a device favoured by Dickens and used frequently in the free verse of Walt Whitman. These lines by Emily Dickinson illustrate the device: Mine – by the Right of the White Election! Mine – by the Royal Seal! Mine – by the Sign in the Scarlet prison Bars – cannot conceal! – epistrophe (……x /……x) is a rhetorical figure by which the same word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive clauses, sentences, or lines, as in Whitman’s Song of Myself (1855): The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place, The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place, The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place. – chiasmus combines repetition and inversion (……AB / BA……); to put it otherwise, it is a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words (“Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin’s a pleasure” – Byron), or just a reversed parallel between two corresponding pairs of ideas, as in this line from Mary Leapor’s “Essay on Woman” (1751): “Despised, if ugly; if she’s fair, betrayed.” The figure is especially common in eighteenth century English poetry, but it is also found in the prose of all periods. It is named after the Greek letter chi (χ), indicating a “criss-cross” arrangement of terms. The oxymoron is the antithetic use of an epithet (e. g. “deafening silence”; “swiftly walk”). It is a figure of speech that combines two usually contradictory terms in a compressed paradox, as in the word “bittersweet” or the phrase “living death”. Oxymoronic phrases, like Milton’s “Darkness visible”, were especially cultivated in the sixteenth and seventeenth century poetry. Shakespeare has his Romeo utter several such oxymoronic phrases in one speech: Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything of nothing first create; O heavy lightness, serious vanity, Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms, Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, Still-waking sleep that is not what it is! The nonce-words are lexical inventions by writers or poets such as James Joyce’s “galluph” (meaning “to gallop in triumph”) or “funferal” (“funeral and fun”); they are words invented to be used for a single specific occasion; or old words of which only one occurrence has been found. The asyndeton is a form of verbal compression or the use of juxtaposition with the deliberate omission of connecting words (usually conjunction) between clauses. The most common form is the omission of “and”, leaving only a sequence of phrases linked by commas, as in these sentences from Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness: “An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was thick, warm, heavy, sluggish.” The most famous example is Julius Caesar’s boast: Veni, vidi, vici (“I came, I saw, I conquered”). Less common is the omission of pronouns, as in W. H. Auden’s early poem “The Watershed”: “two there were / Cleaned out a damaged shaft by hand”. Here the relative pronoun “who” is omitted. The polysyndeton is the serial use of prepositions and conjunctions in connecting parts of speech, clauses, or sentences, as in John Keats’s Endymion (1818): “And soon it lightly dipped, and rose, and sank, / And dipped again…” Polysyndeton is the opposite of asyndeton. The aposiopesis is the sudden interruption of speech, an instance of broken syntax graphically represented by a dash or dots. It is a rhetorical device in which the speaker suddenly breaks off in the middle of a sentence, leaving the sense unfinished. The device usually suggests strong emotion that makes the speaker unwilling or unable to continue his speech. The common threat “get out, or else…” is an example. Next, here are some variants of metaphors: The kenning is a stereotypically repeated phrase used by the Anglo-Saxon poets as a standard metaphor or as a poetic circumlocution in place of a more familiar word. Examples are “bone-house” for “body”, and “sea-wood” for
“ship”. Chris Baldick discusses, in his dictionary of literary terms, similar metaphoric compounds that appear in colloquial speech, e.g. “fire-water” for “whisky”. A famous Shakespearian example is “the beast with two backs” in Othello, used by Iago for “copulation”. The synecdoche is a form of metaphor in which a part is substituted for a whole, for example, “a suit (i.e. a businessman) entered the room”, or less usually, in which a whole is substituted for a part (as when a policeman is called “the law” or a manager is called “the management”). Usually regarded as a special kind of metonymy, synecdoche occurs frequently in political journalism (e.g. “Moscow” for the Russian government) and sports commentary (e.g. “Liverpool” for one of that city’s football teams), but also has literary uses like Dickens’s habitual play with bodily parts: the character of Mrs Merdle in Little Dorrit is referred to as “the Bosom”. The metonymy is a figure of speech in which the name of one object is replaced by another which is closely associated with it, e.g. the bottle for alcoholic drink, the press for journalism, skirt for woman, Mozart for Mozart’s music. A well-known metonymic saying is the pen is mightier than the sword (i.e. the writing is more powerful than warfare). A word used in such metonymic expressions is sometimes called a metonym. The conceit is defined by Chris Baldick as “an unusually far-fetched or elaborate metaphor or simile presenting a surprisingly apt parallel between two apparently dissimilar things or feelings”. Baldick quotes John Donne’s poem “The Flea” as a notable example. John Peck provides a more elaborate definition according to which “the metaphors where comparisons are established between things which seem to have no obvious similarity or connection are called conceits. The term means comparing two very dissimilar things from dissimilar areas of experience.” Interestingly, Peck likewise names Donne as the master of conceits: he mentions the lovers that are compared to candles and flies. Says Peck: “The conceit sums up the kind of double impulse that exists in Donne’s poetry. On the one hand it acknowledges the complex variety of experience, but on the other it reflects the poet’s need to establish connections.” Types of poetry Allegory An allegory is a narrative that has two meanings, one a literal or surface meaning (the story itself) and one a metaphorical meaning (the characters or actions or even the objects of which have a one-to-one equivalence with those of the literal narrative). Or, it is a story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning. The principal technique of allegory is personification, whereby abstract qualities are given human shape – as in public statues of Liberty or Justice. Ballad Ballads are short folk songs that tell stories or legends and often have a repeated refrain. The oldest recorded ballad in the English language, called Judas, was written down in a late thirteenth-century manuscript. They flourished particularly strongly in Scotland from the fifteenth century onward. Since the eighteenth century, educated poets outside the folk-song tradition – notably Coleridge and Goethe – have written imitations of the popular ballad’s form and style. Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798) is a celebrated example. Ballade A type of poem, usually with three stanzas of seven, eight, or ten lines and a shorter final stanza of four or five lines. All stanzas end with the same one-line refrain.
Until the seventeenth century the term “elegy” was used to refer to any poem whose theme was solemn meditation. Since then, it has been applied to poems in which the speaker laments the death of a particular person (a friend or public figure) or the loss of something he valued. Two important English elegies that follow Milton in using pastoral conventions are Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Adonais” (1821) on the death of Keats and Matthew Arnold’s “Thyrsis” (1867). This tradition of the pastoral elegy, derived from Greek poems by Theocritus and other Sicilian poets in the third and second centuries BC, evolved a very elaborate series of conventions by which the dead friend is represented as a shepherd mourned by the natural world: pastoral elegies usually include many mythological figures such as the nymphs who are supposed to have guarded the dead shepherd, and the muses invoked by the elegist. In a broader sense, an elegy may be a poem of melancholy reflection upon life’s transience or its sorrows. In this respect, an eighteenth-century example is Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray. The elegiac stanza is a quatrain of iambic pentameters rhyming ABAB, named after its use in Gray’s “Elegy”. Epic The epic is one of the earliest literary forms. It consists of a long narrative in elevated style that deals with a great and serious object. The works of Homer and Virgil provide the prototypes in classical literature, while Beowulf and Milton’s Paradise Lost are examples in English literature. Epics generally have the following features: 1 The hero is a figure of great importance; 2 The setting of the poem is ample in scale; 3 The action involves superhuman deeds in battle or a long and difficult journey; 4 The gods or supernatural beings take an interest or active part in the action; 5 There are catalogues of some of the principal characters, introduced in formal detail; 6 The narrator begins by stating his theme and invoking a muse; 7 The narrative starts in medias res, i.e. “in the middle of things”, when the action is at a critical point.
Virgil and Milton wrote about the founder of a nation and the human race itself (Aeneas and Adam) in “secondary” or literary epics in imitation of the earlier “primary” or traditional epics of Homer, whose Iliad and Odyssey, dating from the eighth century BC, are derived from an oral tradition of recitation. Epigram An epigram (from the Greek for “inscription”) is a very short poem which is condensed in content and polished in style. Epigrams often have surprising or witty endings usually written as a brief couplet or quatrain. Originally a form of monumental inscription in ancient Greece, the epigram was developed into a literary form by the poets of the Hellenistic age and by the Roman poet Martial, whose epigrams were often obscenely insulting. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “On a Volunteer Singer” is an epigram: Swans sing before they die T’were no bad thing Should certain people Die before they sing! Idyll An idyll is a short poem describing an incident of country life in terms of idealized innocence and contentment; or any such episode in a poem or prose work. The term is virtually synonymous with pastoral poem, as in Theocritus’ Idylls. Short poem depicting a peaceful, idealized country scene, or a long poem that tells a story about heroes of a bye gone age. Mock Epic A mock heroic (or mock epic) poem imitates the elevated style and conventions (invocations of the Gods, descriptions of armour, battles, extended similes etc.) of the epic genre in dealing with a frivolous or minor subject. The mock heroic has been widely used to satirise social vices such as pretentiousness, hypocrisy, superficiality, etc. The inappropriateness of the grandiose epic style highlights the trivial and senseless nature of the writer’s target, as in Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad. Ode An ode is an elaborately formal lyric poem, often in the form of a lengthy ceremonious address to a person or an abstract entity, serious in subject, usually exalted in style and varied or irregular in metre. The first odes were written by the Greek poet Pindar in the fifth century BC. There are, in fact, two different classical models: Pindar’s Greek choral odes devoted to public praise of athletes, and Horace’s more privately reflective odes in Latin. Romantic poets at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century wrote some of their finest verses in the form of odes, for example John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Odes in which the same form of stanza is repeated regularly are called Horatian odes. In English these include the celebrated odes of John Keats “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “Ode to a Nightingale”. The popularity of the ode continued while the classics formed the basis of English education. Pastoral Pastoral poetry is a highly conventional mode of writing, an ancient literary form which deals with the lives of shepherds, and the idyllic aspects of the rural life in general, and typically draws a contrast between the innocence of a simple life and the corruption of city and especially court life. Pastorals were first written by the Greek poet Theocritus in the third century BC. He wrote for an urban readership in Alexandria about the shepherds in his native Sicily. His most influential follower, the Roman poet Virgil, wrote eclogues set in the imagined tranquillity of Arcadia. Edmund Spenser’s Shepherd’s Calendar (1579) introduced the pastoral into English literature and throughout the Renaissance it was a very popular poetic style. Critics now use the term “pastoral” to refer to any work in which the main character withdraws from ordinary life to a place close to nature where he can gain a new perspective on life. Romance The romance is a form of narrative poetry which developed in the twelfth century in France. It relates improbable adventures of idealized characters in some remote or enchanted setting; or, more generally, it shows a tendency in fiction opposite to that of realism. It is, hence, characterized by the fanciful, often idealistic treatment of subject matter. The word “romance” refers to the French language which evolved from Latin or “Roman”. The plot of these poems usually centres on a single knight who fights at tournaments, slays dragons and undergoes a series of adventures in order to win the heart of his heroine. Romances introduced and concentrated on the idea of courtly love according to which the lover idealizes and idolizes his beloved, who is usually another man’s wife (marriage among the medieval nobility was usually for economic or political reasons). The lover suffers agonies for his heroine but remains devoted to her and shows his love by adhering to a rigorous code of behaviour both in battles and in his courtly conduct. The Arthurian stories are typical illustrations of the romance. Satire The satire is a mode of writing that exposes the failings of individuals, institutions, and society to ridicule and scorn. It cannot ridicule a state of mind, a feeling, but something that is obvious, palpable, such as one’s behaviour or deeds; hence, the aim of the satire is to reform, to contribute to the elimination of a particular vice. The satirist has to exaggerate, to distort, to reduce to the absurd his demonstrations for proving in an irrefutable manner what he wants. The tone of the satire may vary from tolerant amusement (Horace) to bitter indignation (Juvenal). The modes of Roman satire, especially the verse satires of Horace and Juvenal, inspired some important imitations by Boileau, Pope, and Samuel Johnson. Chaucer and Byron are also worth mentioning among the greatest English satirists. Sonnet
The term sonnet comes from the Italian word “sonetto”, which means “little song or sound”. In a sonnet a poet expresses his thoughts and feelings in fourteen lines. The sonnet originated in Italy, where it was popularised by the fourteenthcentury poet Petrarch. In the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet the first eight lines – the octave – introduce the subject while the last six lines – the sestet – provides a comment and express the personal feelings of the poet. The rhyming scheme is usually ABBA-ABBA-CDC-CDC. The English sonnet (also called the Shakespearean sonnet after its most famous practitioner) comprises three quatrains and a final couplet rhyming ABAB-CDCD-EFEF-GG. The standard subject-matter of early sonnets was the torments of sexual love (usually within a courtly love convention), but in the seventeenth century John Donne extended the sonnet’s scope to religion, while Milton extended it to politics. Although largely neglected in the eighteenth century, the sonnet was revived in the nineteenth century by Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats. Burlesque Burlesque is a story, play, or essay, that treats a serious subject ridiculously, or is simply a trivial story. Canzone A medieval Italian lyric poem, with five or six stanzas and a shorter concluding stanza (or envoy). The poet Patriarch was a master of the canzone.
Cinquain A cinquain has five lines. Line 1 is one word (the title) Line 2 is two words that describe the title. Line 3 is three words that tell the action Line 4 is four words that express the feeling Line 5 is one word that recalls the title Epitaph An epitaph is a commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument written in praise of a deceased person. Epithalamium (or Epithalamion) A wedding poem written in honour of a bride and bridegroom.
Free verse (also vers libre) Poetry composed of either rhymed or unrhymed lines that have no set fixed metrical pattern or expectation. Haiku A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Haiku reflects on some aspect of nature. Lay A lay is a long narrative poem, especially one that was sung by medieval minstrels called trouvères. Limerick A short sometimes bawdy, humorous poem of consisting of five anapaestic lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 of a Limerick have seven to ten syllables and rhyme with one another. Lines 3 and 4 have five to seven syllables and also rhyme with each other.
There was an Old Person whose habits, Induced him to feed upon rabbits; When he'd eaten eighteen, He turned perfectly green, Upon which he relinquished those habits. Lyric A poem, such as a sonnet or an ode, that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet. The term lyric is now generally referred to as the words to a song. Senryu A short Japanese poem that is similar to a haiku in structure but treats human beings rather than nature, often in a humorous or satiric way. Tanka A Japanese poem of five lines, the first and third composed of five syllables and the rest of seven. Enjambment Enjambment comes from the French word for "to straddle." Enjambment is the continuation of a sentence form one line or couplet into the next and derives from the French verb 'to straddle'. An example by Joyce Kilmer is 'I think that I shall never see/A poem as lovely as a tree'. Envoy The shorter final stanza of a poem, as in a ballade. Euphony Euphony refers to pleasant spoken sound that is created by smooth consonants such as "ripple'. Euphemism Euphemism is the use of a soft indirect expression instead of one that is harsh or unpleasantly direct. For example 'pass away' as opposed to 'die' Litotes A litote is a figure of speech in which affirmative is expressed by the negation of the opposite. "He's no dummy" is a good example.
Meiosis Meiosis is a figure of speech that consists of saying less than one means, or of saying what one means with less force than the occasion warrants. Trope Trope is the use of a word or phrase in a sense different from its ordinary meaning. Understatement Understatement refers to the intentional downplaying of a situation's significance, often for ironic or humorous effect. Versification The system of rhyme and meter in poetry.