Glossary of Literary Terms and Devices



quatrains and a couplet, rhyming in a b a b, c d c d, e f e f, g g

Enjambment: run-on lines (from the French “striding over”); the pressure of the incomplete syntactic unit toward closure carries on over the end of the verse line, thus contributing to variation, emphasis, and smoothness (related to caesura)

Epigram: a short and witty poem, usually in couplets, that makes a humorous or satiric point

Form: shape, structure, or general pattern of a poem

Free Verse: nonmetrical poetry that depends on language cadences and punctuation for rhythm

Lyric: short poem written in repeating stanzaic form, often designed to be set to music; usually emphasizes the thoughts and/or feelings of the speaker

Italian Sonnet: fourteen-line poem, iambic pentameter, composed of two quatrains (the octet) and two tercets (the sestet); octet rhymes

a b b a a b b a, with the sestet rhyming variously, such as c d e c d ec d c c d cc d c d c d

Meter (Measure): the number of feet within a line in traditional verse; generally regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry as determined by the number and kind of feet

Metrical Foot: basic building block of a line of poetry, usually consisting of one stressed syllable and one or more lightly stressed syllable—units of rhythm into which a line of poetry is divided

Iamb: two syllables; unstressed syllable followed by stressed syllable (˘ /)

IAMBIC: ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ /

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