Glossary of Poetic Forms and other Terms of Poetry

  1. Accent.
    Stress or emphasis given to a syllable or word. Words of two or more syllables usually have one syllable that is stressed more strongly than the other syllables.

    Accentual prosody.
    Poetry where the stressed syllables are the only syllables counted.

    Accentual-syllabic poetry.
    Poetry ordered by meter and by syllable count. Example: iambic pentameter, trochaic tetrameter.

    Aleatory verse.
    Uses chance (random words from a book, etc) to determine word choice.

    Alexandrine.
    A line of poetry with 6 iambic feet, generally with a caesura after 3 feet.

    Allegory. (Greek: 'speaking otherwise')
    A long and elaborate story or narrative to teach an unstated moral principle, often through the use of symbolic fictional figures and actions which resemble the subject's properties and circumstances.
    Medieval scholars considered several types of allegory to be present in the Bible:
    • Moral allegory: to be interpreted as a story of conflict between good and evil.
    • Historical allegory: to be interpreted as a when past events foreshadowed the life of Christ. Example: Abraham's plan to sacrifice Isaac foreshadowed Jesus' self-sacrifice on the Cross,
    • Eschatological (treats with death, judgment, and the future state of the soul) allegory: to be interpreted as foreshadowing the end of the world. Example: Noah's flood foreshadowed the Last Judgment.

    Alliteration.
    Two or more words with the same initial sound (or cluster of sounds) occur in a line or phrase.

    Also called head rhyme or initial rhyme, the repetition of initial sounds (usually consonants) of stressed syllables in neighboring words or at short intervals within a line or passage, usually at word beginnings.

    Amphibrach.
    A 3-syllable metrical foot of one accented or stressed syllable between two unstressed syllables. Example: re-PLA-cing.

    Anapest. [Greek anapaistos = 'struck back'.]
    A 3-syllable metrical foot, with the third (only) being stressed.
    Example: I sur-VEY
    Rare in English poetry, apart from limericks.

    Anceps.
    A metrical unit that can be long or short, stressed or unstressed. Originally in Classical Greek poetry.

    Antiphon.
    Sung verse.

    Antistrophe.
    Second part of the triad in a Pindaric Ode. [The 'Counter-turn'.] Compare epode and strophe.

    Assonance.
    The repetition or resemblance of similar accented vowel sounds.

    The relatively close juxtaposition of the same or similar vowel sounds, but with different end consonants in a line or passage, thus a vowel rhyme, as in the words, date and fade.

    (See also Euphony, Near Rhyme, Resonance, Sound Devices)
    (Compare Alliteration, Consonance, Modulation, Rhyme)]

    Aware [Japanese "touchingness"].
    Something that evokes an emotional response.

  2. Ballad.
    A traditional narrative poem, typically with short lines (often 3 feet), and short stanzas (often 4 lines); often with a refrain.

    Ballade. A French syllabic form.
    Lines are usually 8 or 10 syllables, but may be of any length. A common structure is four stanza of three octaves and one envoy of a quatrain. The last line of each stanza is a refrain. Variations on the form include (each with optional envoy of half the lines of a main stanza):
    • The basic Ballade, which has three stanza of 8 lines
    • Ballade Supreme, which has three stanza of 10 lines
    • The Double Ballade, which has six stanza of 8 lines
    • The Double Ballade Supreme, which has six stanza of 10 lines.

    Blank verse.
    Unrhymed metered verse. In the English tradition, the lines are usually in iambic pentameter.

  3. Cadence.
    Measured and rhythmic flow. The rise and fall of the voice. Alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. Modulation.

    Caesura.
    A pause or breath (often indicated by the sense of the words) within a line and usually near the middle.

    Canto.
    A large section of a long or extended poem.

    A canto of a poem can be thought of as a chapter of a novel.

    Canzone.
    A medieval Italian or Provençal lyric poem. Typically it has five or six stanzas and a concluding short stanza (envoy or envoi).

    Cinquain.
    A 5-line form, with an increasing number of syllable in the first 4 lines, decreasing in the 5th. The lines have 2, 4, 6, 8, then 2 syllables respectively.

    Choka (also nagauta) [Japanese "long poem"].
    Traditional Japanese verse form of any number of lines. The first to the penultimate line have 12 morae per line, with a caesura dividing each line into 5 and 7 morae. The final line has 7 morae.
    Note that a poem comprised of two of those 12-morae lines together with the final line has the same form as the tanka.

    Closed form.
    A form of verse with fixed stanza length, rhyme scheme, and other features.

    Common measure. (Also called Common Meter.)
    A 4-line stanza with rhyme scheme represented as abcb. The lines are written in iambic feet. The first and third lines have 4 iambic feet each; the second and fourth lines have 3 iambic feet each. Such a stanza is like a hymnal stanza, with the fourth line rhymed with the second; the only difference is that the third line does not rhyme with the first line.

    Conceit.
    An elaborate poetic image that likens one thing to something else that is seemingly very different. The charm is in the cleverness of the poet in both recognizing the aptness of the comparison and convincing the audience.

    Consonance.
    Repetition of similar consonant sounds, especially at the ends of words. Example: as in "wing" and "making" or "gift" and "daft".

    Couplet.
    Two lines written as a unit. A couplet can be in any meter and have any length; usually the two lines of a couplet are of the same meter and length; traditionally they were rhymed though that is no longer required. When the lines form a complete grammatical unit (such as a statement or a question) the couplet is said to be "closed". (See also distich.)

    When the couplet uses a five-foot iambic line (as in 17th-century and 18th-century verse to express serious subjects), it is called the "heroic" couplet.

    Shakespearean sonnets usually end in a couplet.

  4. Dactyl.
    A metrical foot of 3 syllables, with the first (only) being stressed.

    Dimeter.
    A line of poetry of two metrical feet. See also meter.

    Distich.
    Two lines that are related to each another and form a complete thought. (See also couplet.)

    Dirge.
    A mourning, wailing lament.

  5. Ecologue.
    A pastoral poem (after Virgil).

    Elegy.
    A poem of lament or loss; a meditation on grief. See for example the Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke.

    Elision.
    Omission of words or parts of words.

    Encomium.
    Ode or song of praise for a person (usually alive).

    Enjambed.
    Line of verse whose thought continues at the line's end to the next line. Contrast with end-stopped.

    End-stopped.
    Line of verse whose thought ends at the line's end. Contrast with enjambed.

    Envelope Rhyme.
    A couplet within two outer rhymes (as in abba).

    Epic.
    A narrative poem of heroic exploits usual undertaken by a male hero who (like modern block-buster movie protagonists) disregards the rules. The heroic line is commonly used in writing an epic in English.

    Epigram.
    A short poem, that makes a point pithily. Sometimes the point is barbed. May just be a witty remark or observation.

    Epithalamium.
    A poem celebrating a wedding. No particular form required.

    Epode.
    Third part of the triad in a Pindaric Ode. [Johnson calls it the Stand.] Compare antistrophe and strophe.

    Euphony.

  6. Feminine rhyme.
    (Also called falling rhyme.) A rhyme where the main stress falls upon the next-to-last syllable, and the rhyme occurs in the final unstressed syllable. change this example : pleasure/leisure, longing/yearning.

    Figure of speech.
    A mode of expression where words or sounds are arranged to communicate a particular effect. Often the words are used non-literally, such as by comparing one unfamiliar thing to another that is more familiar to the reader. The objective is to add beauty or emotional intensity, or to transfer the poet's sensory impressions. Important figures of speech are: metaphor, personification, simile (a foot of two syllables, the first unstressed and the second stressed), and symbol. Others are: alliteration, antithesis, assonance, hyperbole, litotes, metonymy, onomatopoeia, synecdoche.

    Foot.
    A unit of meter or rhythm, usually of two or more syllables. The smallest unit of rhythm in a poem. In English prosody, the four standard verse feet are: anapest, dactyl, iamb (a foot of two syllables, the first unstressed and the second stressed), and trochee.

    Forensics.
    Poetry forms of discussion and argument. They include: Ecologue Debat (a poem written as an argument between country lovers), the Spanish pregunta, and the Japanese katauta.

    Free verse [From the French, "vers libre."].
    Having no meter, Free Verse is essentially prose with unconventional line breaks. Rhyme is absent or irregular.
    Such unmetered and (usually) irregularly lined unrhymed verse uses rhythm, repetition, phrasing, and cadence.
    Its basic units are the line and the stanza. Other units that form the poem and give it pace can be units of syntax, units of breath, and units of thought.
    This is quite different from blank verse.

  7. Ghazal.
    See our essay.

    Ginkoo or Ginkō
    The original Japanese name comprises two Japanese kanji: the first, pronounced GIN, means "singing, praising, making a poem"; the second, pronounced KOO, means walking. [After notes from haiku poet Bev Momoi.]
    "A walk that is usually planned in a special place -- a garden or area of scenic beauty -- for the purpose of being inspired with haiku" [p. 82 of Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold], such as at the 2007 Yuki Teikei Haiku Society Retreat at Asilomar. The walk is not strenuous, and usually the poets go at their own slow pace.

  8. Haibun.
    Concise prose that includes one or more Haiku. The relationship between the prose and the poetry is not of illustration.

    Haiga [Japanese "haikai painting"].
    A painting in a spontaneous, rough, and often abstract style; on it the artist writes (in calligraphy) a haiku or hokku. The art does not illustrate the poem and the poem does not describe the picture.

    Haikai [Japanese "jovial"].
    Traditionally, humorous verse (as opposed to poetry of a classical, refined, and courtly style). Later, an abbreviation for haikai-no-renga. In modern times (especially in Japan) a term for all forms of Japanese verse, including haiku.

    Haikai-no-renga [Japanese "humorous renga"].
    Popular linked verse, usually humorous, sometimes vulgar. Bashō and his students transformed this into literature of high quality.

    Haiku [Japanese "haikai stanza"].
    Historically the generic term for one stanza of haikai-no-renga. In modern times, the name for a single, independent poem that has the compositional features of a hokku.

    Haijin [Japanese "haikuist"].
    A writer of haiku.

    Hay(na)ku.
    A modern short form that counts words and was inaugurated on the Web on June 12th, 2003 (Philippine Independence Day).

    Heptameter.
    A line of poetry of seven metrical feet. See also meter.

    Heroic couplet.
    Rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter.

    Heroic line.
    Iambic pentameter. Used in English for epic or heroic poetry.

    Hexameter.
    A line of poetry of six metrical feet. See also meter.

    Hokku [Japanese "opening verse"].
    The first stanza of a sequence of linked verse. Traditionally it uses a kigo and kireji. In modern usage, and especially since Masaoka Shiki, composed as an independent poem, as haiku. Cf. tateku, jibokku

    Honkadori [Japanese].
    Rexroth defines this as "the elusive echo of tradition ".

    Hyakuin [Japanese "one hundred links"].
    A sequence of one hundred stanzas, the most common form of renga before the promulgation, by Bashō, of the kasen.

    Hymnal stanza.
    A 4-line stanza with rhyme scheme represented as abab. The lines are written in iambic feet. The first and third lines have 4 iambic feet each; the second and fourth lines have 3 iambic feet each. Such a stanza is like a quatrain in common measure, with the fourth line rhymed with the second; the only difference is that the third line rhymes with the first line.

  9. Iamb. [Latin iambus < Greek iambos < Greek iambein = 'to assail verbally'.]
    A metrical foot of one unaccented syllable followed by one accented syllable.

    Ictus.
    The stress within a foot. Second element in an iamb; first element in a trochee; third element in an anapest.

    Imagism
    A style of poetry adopted in the early 20th-century by poets who used free verse and concise, image-rich language, often colloquial. Imagistic poems express ideas and emotions with clearly defined images. Poets include Ezra Pound, T. E. Hulme, H.D., D. H. Lawrence, William Carlos Williams, and Amy Lowell.

  10. Jion [Japanese "sound marker" or "sound symbol"].
    Obsolete term, like onji.
    Instead use mora.

    Jusanbutsu [Japanese "thirteen Buddhas"].
    A renku sequence of 13 stanzas.

  11. Kaori [Japanese "aroma"].
    The relationship between adjoining links that evoke the same emotion, even if they use images that are quite different.

    Karumi [Japanese "lightness"].
    Sometimes given as: "the beauty of ordinary things". Bashō in his mature years espoused this as the ideal style, with simplicity in both language and content instead of complexity.

    Kasen [Japanese "great poet"].
    A renku sequence of 36 stanzas. Bashō, defined it and used it.

    Katauta [Japanese "half poem"].
    A Japanese form in which one spontaneous utterance (a question) is paired with another such utterance (an answer). A paired question and answer is a mondo.

    Kigo [Japanese "season word"].
    The name of an object, event, or activity associated with a season. It is required for the opening verse of a linked sequence, and many haiku schools require it for a haiku. [See 2008 YTHS Retreat at Asilomar for additional comments on the kigo by Patricia J. Machmiller.

    Kireji [Japanese "cutting word"].
    The cutting word can act similarly to a punctuation symbol (like a colon or semicolon) in English, except that the cutting word is spoken as part of the poem. It can provide emphasis, juxtaposition, or suggestion. It may also be used as a punctuation device to interrupt the normal cadence of the verse. A punctuation mark (colon, m-dash, etc.) used as a cutting device in some English language haiku approximates the Japanese cutting device of ya. It is required for the opening verse of a linked sequence, and many haiku schools require it for a haiku.

    Kokoro [Japanese].
    Heart.

    Kotoba [Japanese].
    Rexroth defines this as "fitting expression".

    Kukai [Japanese].
    A presentation of anonymous haiku which are voted upon by participants. Led by a master who sets the ground rules and guides the session.

  12. Lai or Lay.
    See our essay.

    Limerick.
    A light, humorous poem of five lines with the rhyme scheme:
    
        aabba  

    The feet of the lines are usually anapests.

    Line
    - coming soon.

    .

    Litotes
    A figure of speech where something positive is stated by negating its opposite. It is a form of understatement, and thus the opposite of hyperbole. Unfortunately it often involves a double negative, such as 'not a bad decision'.

    .

    Lyric
    A poem that expresses the inner thoughts and feelings of the poet. Some of the traditional forms for a lyric poem are the sonnet and the ode.

  13. Madrigal
    - coming soon.

    Makoto [Japanese].
    Rexroth defines this as "truth to the poetic experience".

    Masculine rhyme

    Metaphor
    A figure of speech that likens one thing to something else that is seemingly somewhat different. Often it compares something abstract to something concrete, thereby translating and increasing the communication of the poet's feelings to the audience.

    Meter (also written metre).
    The verbal rhythm of verse, measured in syllables that combine in groups (or feet) of accented and unaccented syllable. (From the Greek, metron, a measure.)

    Poets sometimes altering the expected pattern of feet in a line, thus deviating from rigorous adherence to a metrical pattern. This can:
    • avoid the mechanical rhythm monotony;
    • emphasize or reinforce a word or phrase.

    The names of the meters with 1 to 8 feet are:
    1. monometer.
    2. dimeter.
    3. trimeter.
    4. tetrameter.
    5. pentameter.
    6. hexameter.
    7. heptameter.
    8. octameter.

    Metrical lines are named for the type of constituent foot and for the number of feet in the line. For example, a line containing three iambic feet is iambic trimeter.

    Metonymy.
    A figure of speech in which one word is substituted for another with which it is associated, often by what it does.

    Miyabi [Japanese].
    Rexroth defines this as "grace".

    Mondo [Japanese "dialogue"].
    A question and an answer, each in the form of a katauta. Each part is created by a different poet. The Solo Mondo is a modern adaption in which the two parts are created by a single poet, who writes in a different voice for each part. A precursor to the sedoka.

    Mon [Japanese "pattern"].

    Mono no aware [Japanese].
    Rexroth defines this as "awe, delight, and melancholy". Compare with aware.

    Modulation.

    Monometer.
    A line of poetry of one metrical foot. See also meter.

    Mora [pl. Morae. From Latin "delay"].
    [From Latin for delay.] In syllable-timed language, its duration is one short syllable; two long morae have duration of one long syllable. This term is adopted by the Japanese as the counting unit for prosody, including for haiku and tanka.

    The following notes are courtesy of Katsuhiko Momoi, the Japanese linguist and poet.

    1. "Onji" or "Jion" are simply inaccurate terms to use to refer to countable units in Haiku or Tanka poetry. Someone must have incorrectly used these for that purpose at one point in history and somehow they "stuck". This type of incorrect identification and usage is fairly common in the annals of lexicography.

    2. Though there are still some controversies, it is more or less accepted that Japanese have both syllable and mora. A syllable is a unit that can bear a Japanese pitch accent or forms a coherent physical phonetically pronounceable entity. A syllable can be long or short. Mora(e) are used in "counting" in poetry and other language-related tasks. Long syllables are counted as 2 morae and short ones as 1 mora.

    3. Haiku and Tanka generally use mora (or a counting unit) as the basis for determining 5-7-5(-7-7) lengths.

    4. Here are possible syllable types in Japanese:
      (C)V
      (C)VV
      (C)VN
      (C)VC-

      where C = consonant, V = vowel, N = a mora nasal, i.e. "n". There could be also (G = glide, i.e. "y" or "w") after C and before V.

      The first type above is counted as 1 mora unit and the other 3 are counted as 2 mora units for a variety of counting purposes in Japanese including that in poetry.

    Mushin renga [Japanese "carefree linked verse"].
    Often, this kind of group-effort poem by numerous participants, collaborating (and competing in a somewhat bantering way) was created after a more serious contest between individual poets. Originally, it was a courtly pastime. Cf. uta-awase

  14. Narrative.
    Something told or related, such as a story. Popular forms are: ballads, epics, and lays.

    Near Rhyme.

    Nioi [Japanese "fragrance"].
    Linkage so fine as to be almost intangible. A style refined by Bashō. Cf. kaori.

    Normative accentuals.
    Each line contains the same number of accents or stresses. Anglo-Saxon (Old English) poetry is normative accentual.

    Normative syllabics.
    Each line contains the same number of syllables.

    Normative word count.
    Each line contains the same number of words.

  15. Occasional poetry
    - coming soon.

    Octameter.
    A line of poetry of eight metrical feet. See also meter.

    Octave.
    A stanza of eight lines. The first eight lines of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet are grouped in such a stanza.

    Ode.
    A lyric poem (rhymed or unrhymed) that praises someone or something. Traditionally they contained elevated language, so it was delightful to read Neruda's odes to socks, an onion, and other admirable though mundane objects.

    On [Japanese "sound"].
    In Japanese poetry, the smallest metrical unit of Japanese utterance. Today in Japanese, an on is significantly briefer than a European "syllable."

    Onji [Japanese "sound marker" or "sound symbol"].
    A Western and inaccurate term for a sound unit character in the Japanese phonetic alphabet.
    The mora is a more appropriate counting unit.

    For an additional view, see Richard Gibert's essay Stalking the Wild Onji: The Search for Current Linguistic Terms Used in Japanese Poetry Circles. He "investigates the historic usage of onji as a linguistic term in Japan and presents an argument for its removal from usage, as currently construed, by the international haiku community."

    He acknowledges the mora: "perceptually-speaking, Japanese speech is composed of small, timed units of sound, rather than syllables. Mora (plural, morae) is the term that both Japanese and English linguists often use to identify the 'time-unit sounds' of speech, which when put together, compose words in spoken Japanese."

    Onomatopoeia.
    A figure of speech in which the sound of the word(s) imitate the sounds of what they describe. Examples: buzz, hiss, splat, and tick-tock.

    Ottava rima.
    Stanzas of 8-line octaves with the rhyme scheme "abababcc". Some poets, including George Gordon Byron. use the final couplet to comment on the previous six lines. Other poets use the first seven lines for the theme and the final line as a punch-line. Often the lines are of 10 or 11 syllables.

  16. Panegyric.
    Writing that praises a character's qualities or achievements.

    Pantoum.

    See our essay.

    Paralepsis.
    Making a statement while pretending not to.

    Pastoral.
    A poem that depicts rural life and scenes in an idealized way.

    Pentameter.
    A line of poetry of five metrical feet. See also meter.

    Personification.
    A figure of speech in which an inanimate object (or an abstraction) is given a human attribute.

    Phoneme
    - coming soon.

    Poem
    - coming soon.

    Postmodernism
    See our essay.

    Pregunta.
    A Spanish form in which one poet asks a requesta [one or more questions] and the other responds with a respuesta [one or more replies].

    Prose poem.
    - coming soon.

    Prosedy.
    The art and science of verse.

  17. Quatrain.
    A stanza (or a poem) of four lines.

  18. Renga [Japanese "linked poem"].
    A poem of two or more stanzas, alternating with nominally 5-7-5 and 7-7 morae. Usually it is composed by three or more people. Each stanza is linked indirectly to the one immediately before it. The content of the poem evolves as the links (or stanza) are added.

    Rengay [Japanese "ren" plus English "gay"].
    A linked-verse form invented at the end of the 20th century by the American poet Garry Gay. In this six-stanza collaborative poem, two or three authors develops a single theme. More on the rengay.

    Renju [Japanese "colleagues"].
    Poets who participate in the composition of linked verse.

    Renku [Japanese "linked verse"].
    Modern name for a sequence of linked verse (renga), especially that composed in the tradition of Bashō.

    Rensaku [Japanese "linked poems"].
    A collection of individual poems which function as successive stanzas in a larger composition.

    Resonance.

    .
    Rhadif: the refrain line of a ghazal.

    Rhyme.
    The occurrence of the same or similar sounds at the end of two or more words. If the rhyme is in a final stressed syllable, it is masculine. When the rhyme occurs in a final unstressed syllable, it is feminine.

    Use a different letter for each final sound (or set of sounds) on a line, to show the pattern of rhyme in a stanza or poem. For example if the second, and fifth lines end in one sound, and the third and fourth lines end in another, but the first line has yet another sound, that stanza's rhyme scheme is:
    
        abccb  

    Rhythm.
    - coming soon.

    Rondeau.
    - coming soon.

    Rubaiyat.
    See our essay.

  19. Sabi [Japanese "quietude, repose, state of tranquillity"].
    A mood of quiet - even solitary - beauty, elegiac rather than nostalgic. William Higginson (in The Haiku Handbook) calls sabi "Beauty with a sense of loneliness in time." Suzuki includes "solitude" but adds words like "insignificant", "pitiable", and "poverty". Evoke it with images of aged, or weathered objects, often rustic and poor, that have been abandoned.

    Sajiki [Japanese "seasonal almanac"].
    A comprehensive study of season words (kigo) and topics (kidai); includes examples of usage.

    Sapphics
    - coming soon.

    Satire
    - coming soon.

    Sedoka [Japanese "doubled poem"].
    A two-part poem by a single poet; the two halves often address the same subject from different perspectives. The halves are not restricted to a question and an answer (as in the mondo from which it developed). Often each half is a stanza of the form of 5/7/5 morae.

    Senryu [Japanese "river willow"].
    The pen name of the renowned master of "verse-capping contests" (maekuzuke). It now identifies the cynical and mocking independent poem of the style and meter of an opening verse, echoing that of Senryu.

    Sestina.
    See our essay.

    Shasei [Japanese "sketching"].
    The theory that the substance of haiku should be drawn directly from life. Widely practiced by the school of Bashō. To Masaoka Shiki, this theory became a doctrine.

    Shibumi [Japanese "astringency"].
    The antithesis of saccharine or cloying sentiment.

    Shimo-no-ku [Japanese "lower verse"].
    The second element of a tanka or waka comprising 7/7 syllables. Cf. kami-no-ku

    Shinku [Japanese "synchronized verse"].
    Two adjoining stanzas (in linked verse) that have a rather close relationship. Contrast with soku.

    Shiori [Japanese "wilting"].
    A delicacy with a deep sympathy for both nature and humanity; the poet might be careful not to fall into pathos.

    Shishi [Japanese ].
    A renku sequence of 16 stanzas.

    Shofu [Japanese "Bashō style"].
    The mature style of Bashō. Its principal features were lightness (karumi), quietude (sabi), and simplicity (wabi).

    Shomon [Japanese "Bashō school"].
    Bashō's school resided with him and with the jittetsu, the ten great disciples.

    Simile.
    A figure of speech in which two things are compared explicitly, using the word "like" or "as".

    Soku [Japanese "disparate verse"].
    In linked verse, two adjoining stanzas that exhibit a rather distant relationship. Contrast with shinku.

    Sonnet.
    See our essay.

    Sono mama [Japanese "unadorned"].
    The treatment of an object or event without interpretation or embellishment.

    Sound Device.

    Stanza.
    Two or more lines of poetry that together form a short section of a poem. In a formal poem, all (or most) stanzas contain an equal number of lines, and follow the same pattern of meter and rhyme. The start of a new stanza often introduces a different topic, image, or perspective (similar to starting a new paragraph in prose). The gap between two stanzas is shown on the page by one or more blank lines. In a reading, a brief pause is given.

    Stress.

    Strophe.
    First part of the triad in a Pindaric Ode. [Johnson calls it the Turn.] Compare antistrophe and epode.

    Syllable.

    Symbol
    - coming soon.

    Synecdoche
    A figure of speech in which one part designates the whole or the whole designates a part.

  20. Tanka [Japanese "short poem"].
    A lyric poem constructed as a sequence of 5-7-5-7-7 morae. Earlier (up to and through the fourteenth century), the tanka was written in two portions:
    1. A 5/7/5/ kami-no-ku (upper verse)
    2. A 7/7 shimo-no-ku (lower verse).
    Nowadays, the two portions are usually fused.

    Tanku [Japanese "short stanza"].
    Generic term used by modern renku poets to denote any 7/7 (or equivalent) stanza.

    Tan-renga [Japanese "short linked poem"].
    A two stanza poem that comprises the 5/7/5 maeku (front verse) (written by one person), and the 7/7 tsukeku (joined verse) by another person in response to the first.

    Teikei [Japanese "fixed form"].
    The tension between form and freedom, and the creative dynamic that arises; an essential concept of Japanese aesthetics.

    Tercet.
    A group of three lines that rhyme together and/or rhyme with adjacent or nearby groups of three lines.

    Terza rima.
    See our essay.
    A type of poetry consisting of lines arranged in three-line tercets. They use a rhyme scheme where the first line of a triplet rhymes with the third line, and where the second line symes with the first line of the subsequent stanza. Example: aba bcb cdc ...

    Dante has the first recorded use of the form (for Divine Comedy) and he may have invented it. Chaucer applied terza rima to English and has been used in English by Milton, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Auden, and many others.

    Tetrameter.
    A line of poetry that has four metrical feet. See also meter.

    Trimeter.
    A line of poetry of three metrical feet. See also meter.

    Triolet.
    See our essay.

    Trochee.
    A metrical foot of two syllables; the first syllable is long (or stressed) and the second is short (or unstressed).

    The trochee is the reverse of the iamb.

    Trope.
    A figure of speech in which words are not used in their literal sense but in a figurative (or imaginative) sense. Examples are metaphor and metonymy.

  21. Ushin renga [Japanese "heartfelt linked verse"].
    Linked verse that strives express refined sentiment in a classical manner. (In contrast, see mushin renga.)

    Uta [Japanese "verse"].
    Generic term for verse written, recited, or sung in the Japanese (rather that a foreign) manner.

    Utsuri [Japanese "reflection"].
    A sense of movement or transference between adjoining stanzas. This may include visual harmony.

  22. Variable accentuals.
    Rather than having the same number of stresses in every line, each line contains a number of stresses that lies within a range decided by the poet (e.g. between two and five stresses per line.)

    Variable syllabics.
    Rather than having the same number of syllables in every line, each line contains a number of syllables that lies within a range decided by the poet (e.g. between seven and ten syllables per line.)

    Variable word count.
    Each line contains a number of words that is within a range decided by the poet. For example, one might decide to have between four and six words.

    Verse.
    A metrical composition made according to particular rules of meter.

    Villanelle.
    See our essay.

    Volta.
    The "turn" showing the change in mood or thought between the octave and sestet in a (Petrachian) sonnet.

  23. Wabi [Japanese "frugality, loneliness, poverty"].
    Austere beauty. A sense of beauty tinged with asceticism and simplicity. Appears in the poetry of the Japanese medieval period; later important to Bashō.

    Waka [Japanese "poem"].
    In Japan, all forms of poetry in the Japanese language and style. Such poems exclude word that the Japanese have "borrowed" from the Chinese. Historically, waka refers especially to the short poem, the tanka.

  24. yugen [Japanese].
    Rexroth defines this as "the impenetrable mystery of even the most commonplace when seen with contemplative eyes".


Site Meter [Thanks for visiting.]