Glossary of Literary Terms and Devices



Monologue: a long speech spoken by a single character to himself or herself, the audience, or an off-stage character

Soliloquy: a convention in which a character, alone onstage, utters his or her thoughts aloud, allowing the audience to be informed about the character’s motivations and state of mind; longer than an aside (see aside)

POETRY-SPECIFIC

Ballad: a narrative poem composed of quatrains in which lines of iambic tetrameter alternate with iambic trimester, rhyming a b c b

Narrative Ballad: a ballad that communicates a story

Blank Verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter

Caesura: clear pauses in the middle of lines, especially prominent in Greek and Latin verse, often found in heroic verse form, dactylic hexameter, (related to enjambment)

Clerihew: a humorous closed-form poem in four lines, rhyming a b a b, usually about a famous person or figure

Concrete Poetry: also known as shape poetry, where the poem draws most or all of its meaning from the typographical arrangement of the words, which are meant to produce a visual impact

Double-Dactyl: humorous closed-form poem in two quatrains, written predominantly in dactylic dimeter—the first line must be a proper name, then the sixth or seventh a single word

Dramatic Monologue: type of poem derived from the theater, in which a speaker speaks to an internal listener or the reader at length (see soliloquy)

English Sonnet: a fourteen-line poem, in iambic pentameter, composed of three

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