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The voice used by an author (usually a poet) to tell a story or speak a poem. The speaker is often a created identity, and should not automatically be equated with the author's self.


Is a separate self, created by and distinct from the author, through which he or she speaks. Is not necessarily a character (although might be)

Poetic Diction

the way poets sometimes employ an elevated diction that deviates significantly form the common speech and writing of their time, choosing words for their inherent poetic qualities.


The dictionary meaning of a word.


Associations and implications that go beyond the literal meaning of a word, which derive from how the word has been commonly used and the associations people make with it.


The ordering of words into meaningful verbal patterns such as phrases, clauses, and sentences.

Poetic Syntax

Poets often manipulate syntax, changing conventional word order to place certain emphasis on words or phrases or to make us think about certain words and phrases in a new way. May rearrange words to fit the meter or rhyme scheme of a poem.

Dramatic Monologue

A type of lyric poem in which a character address a distinct but silent audience imagined to be present in the poem. The speaker speaks directly to another character in the world of the poem, but that second character never responds, at least not verbally.

Carpe Diem

Latin phrase meaning "seize the day" this is a very common literary theme which means life is short, time if fleeting, and that one should make the most of present pleasures.


A brief reference to a person, place, thing, event, or idea in history or literature. They imply reading and cultural experiences shared by the writer and the reader, functioning as a kind of shorthand whereby the recalling of something outside the word supplies an emotional or intellectual context.


An image is a word, phrase, or figure of speech that addresses the senses suggesting mental pictures of sights sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, or actions. Pictures offer sensory impressions to the reader and also convey emotions and moods through their verbal pictures.

Figures of Speech

ways of using language that deviate from the literal, denotative meanings of words in order to suggest additional meanings or effects. Figures of speech say one thing in terms of something else, such as when an eager funeral director is described as a vulture.


A common figure of speech that makes an explicit comparison between two things using words such as like, as, than, appears, and seems.


A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, without using words such as like or as.

Extended Metaphor

A sustained comparison in which part or all of a poem consists of a series of related metaphors.


A play on words that relies on a word's having more than one meaning or sounding like another word.


A kind of metaphor in which a part of something is used to signify the whole, as when a gossip is called a wagging tongue. The tongue of the person represents the whole person.


A type of metaphor in which something closely associated with a subject is substituted for it. The screen the motion pictures are shown on replaces the phrase motion picture.


A form of metaphor in which human qualities are given to nonhuman things. It offers the writer a way to give the world life and motion by assigning familiar human behaviors and emotions to animals, inanimate objects, and abstract ideas.


An address, either to someone who is absent and therefore cannot hear the speaker or to something nonhuman that cannot comprehend or respond. The author might also speak to someone who is unconscious and cannot respond.


A boldly exaggerated statement that adds emphasis without meaning to be literally true.


The opposite of a hyperbole. figure of speech that says less than intended. Understatement usually has an ironic effect, and sometimes may be used for comic purposes.


A statement that initially appears to to contradictory but then, on closer inspection, turns our to make sense.


A condensed form of paradox in which two contradictory words are used together, as in sweet sorrow or original copy.

Didactic Poetry

Poetry designed to teach an ethical, moral, or religious lesson

Cosmic Irony

This type occurs when a writer uses God, destiny, or fate to dash the hopes and expectations of a character or of humankind in general. A discrepancy exists between what a character aspires to and what universal forces provide.


A term referring to the use of a word that resembles the sound it denotes.


The repetition of the same consonant sounds in a sequence of words, usually at the beginning of a word or stressed syllable. (five miles meandering in a mazy motion...) (5 m's)


The repetition of internal vowel sounds in nearby words that do not end the same. (ex. trees have deep meanings)


The repetition of identical or similar concluding syllables in different words, most often at the ends of lines.

End Rhyme

Occurs when the rhyming words are at the ends of lines of poetry.

Eye Rhyme

Occurs when the words look alike, but do not sound alike.

Rhyme Scheme

The pattern of end rhymes. Rhyme schemes are mapped out by noting patterns of rhyme with small letters; the first rhyme is designated a, the second becomes b

Exact Rhyme

Rhyming words that share the same stressed vowel sounds as well as sharing the same sounds that follow the vowel.

Near Rhyme

The sounds are almost but not exactly alike.

Fixed Form

A poem that may be categorized by the pattern of its lines, meter, rhythm, or stanzas

Open Form/ Free verse

Poems characterized by their nonconformity to established patterns of meter, rhyme, and stanza.


A grouping of lines, usually set off by a space. Poetic paragraph


The central meaning or dominant idea in a literary work. Provides a unifying point around which the plot, characters, setting, point of view, symbols, and other elements of a work are organized. Refers to the abstract concept that is made concrete through the images, characterization, and action of the text.


A writer's choice of words, phrases, sentence structures, and figurative language, which combine to help create meaning.


Allows for two or more simultaneous interpretations of a word, phrases, action, or situation. All of which can be supported by the context of a work.


The author's implicit attitude toward the readers or the people, places, and events in a work as revealed by the elements of the author's style. May be characterized with emotions and attitudes that human beings experience.


A person, object, image, word, or event that evokes a range of additional meaning beyond and usually more abstract than its literal significance. Educational devices for evoking complex ideas without having to resort to painstaking explanations

Conventional/ traditional symbol

Have meanings that are widely recognized by a society or a culture.

Literary/ Contextual symbol

Gain their symbolic meaning within the context of a specific story, but loses the meaning outside of the piece.


A narration or description usually restricted to a single meaning because its events, actions, characters, settings and objects represent specific abstractions or ideas. Emphasis on what the story actually means. Characters may be given names like hope, faith, youth.

Situational Irony

When there is an incongruity between what is expected to happen and what actually happens due to forces beyond human control.

Verbal Irony

When a person says one thing but means the opposite.

Dramatic/ Tragic Irony

When there is a discrepancy between what a character believes or says and what the audience member knows to be true. the audience is aware of a truth that the character is unaware of.


14 lines 10 syllables per line.

Shakespearean Sonnet

Another name for an English or Elizabethan Sonnet. Includes 14 lines, 10 syllables per line.

English Sonnet

Another name for a Shakespearean or Elizabethan Sonnet. Includes 14 lines, 10 syllables per line.

Elizabethan Sonnet

Another name for a Shakespearean or English Sonnet. Includes 14 lines. 10 syllables per line.

Petrarchan Sonnet

Another name for Italian Sonnet and uses the form abbaabba but the last six lines are variable.

Italian Sonnet

Another name for Petrarchan Sonnet and uses the form abbaabba but the last six lines are variable.

Iamb/ Iambic foot

A set of two syllables in which the first is not stressed and the second is.

Iambic Pentameter

A pattern that is repeated every two syllables.


A two line stanza

Heroic Couplet

A two line stanza that uses end rhymes.


A four line stanza


Eight line stanza


Six line stanza


Three line stanza


19 line poem with 5 tercets and 1 quatrain

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