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41 terms

Literary Terms

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Alliteration
repetition of initial consonant sounds; gives speed or driving force to a line of poetry; adds suspense or urgency to the tone
Assonance
repetition of vowel sounds; slows the pace to add import to a line of poetry; promotes thoughtfulnes, or melancoly to the tone; allows for approximate rhyme
Consonance
repetition of final constonant sounds after different vowel sounds; allows for approxiamte rhyme; helps create continuity and flow through the poem or line of poetry (east-west, struts-frets, turn-torn)
Allusion
reference in a poem to another famous literary work, event, idea, era, history, religion, mythology, politics, sports, science, or popular culture; offers depth to the poem through connections to universally recognized theme, etc.; provides subtext for subject of poem
Apostrophe
when the speaker directly addresses an absent or dead person, abstract quality, or something nonhuman if is were present; stronger than personification because of first person point of view; adds element of potential conflict, as if the person/thing being addressed might respond; therefore affecting tone
Antithesis
a contrast of ideas expressed in a grammatically balanced statement; creates an obvious conflict or contrast for emphasis; provides subtext for subject of poem
Blank verse
unrhymed iambic pentameter; combines the structure of meter with the naturalness of speaking; adds variety to patterns within a poem and sounds much like natural speech
Conceit
imaginative and elaborate figure of speech that makes a surprising connection between two seemingly dissimilar things; usually supports the theme of the poem by providing a common thread; creates a natural paradox that adds depth to the poem
Connotation
all the meanings, associations, or emotions a word suggests; extends the possible connections to things familiar to reader; allows for poetic license to create imagery, tone, etc.
Denotation
the literal, dictionary definition of a word; adds precision to the poet's theme, imagery, tone, etc.; provides a specific context for the reader
Diction
poet's choice of words; supports the poet's style or reflects an era; provides clues to the tone and/or themes
Dissonance
a harsh, discordant combination of sounds (usually consonant sounds); often used to communicate energy (bravado, recklessness, etc.); also called cacophony
Epiphany
moment of sudden insight or revelation; creates dramatic moment in sonnets, monologues, etc.; may be the reader's response to the poem (orchestrated by poet)
Figurative Language
intentionally departs for the normal meaning or words to create an effect; includes all figures of speech
Figure of Speech
word or phrase that describes one thing in terms of another and is not meant to be understood on a literal level; often used to create imagery or paradox; enhances meaning of poem by drawing comparisons which are often universal
Free Verse
poetry which has no regular meter or rhyme; relies on the natural rhythms of ordinary speech; generally relies on figures or speech to achieve poem's desired effect
Hyperbole
figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion, create comic effects, or intense dramatic tone; replaces literal truth with a sense of intensity about the nature of something; allows the poet to make a significant point without excessive wording
Imagery
use of language that appeals to the senses; crucial to poetry; used to create tone, support theme, reveal allusions, etc.
Metaphor
figure of speech that makes a comparison between two seemingly unlike things without using a connective word (like, as, resembles, than); may be directly or indirectly stated depending on poet's intention; may be extended to develop an idea throughout the passage or poem; may be dead in that it is no longer notice as a figure of speech (foot of the bed); may be mixed intentionally or unintentionally to create humor or suggest ignorance or lack of culture
Synecdoche
figure of speech in which the part stands for the whole; provides euphemisms commonly known to the reader; supports allusions and motifs
Motif
word, object, image, metaphor, or idea that recurs in literature
Octave
eight-line stanza or poem or the first eight lines of an Italian sonnet; in a sonnet, used to present a problem or situation
Onomatopoeia
word whose sound imitates or suggests its meaning; used to reinforce meaning while creating evocative and musical effects; provides interest/depth to imagery or tone
Oxymoron
figure of speech that combines apparently contradictory words in to a new idea; from Greek oxys (sharp) and moros (foolish); creates impact and drama or emphasizes a point by creating inherent conflict
Paradox
an apparent contradiction that is actually true - two opposing ideas that are combined to create a new idea with deeper meaning; figure of speech when used as a statement; may also denote a situation, usually involving conflict (often internal)
Parallelism
repetition of words or phrases that have the same grammatical structure or that restate a similar idea; used to help make lines emotional,rhythmic, and memorable; often used in Biblical poetry to create emotional or mystical effect and sharpen the meaning of the poem by giving it spiritual connections
Personification
figure of speechthat is kind of metaphor in which a nonhuman thing or quality is talked about as if it were human; provides an understandable context or connection for the reader; adds a spiritual or supernatural quality to the poem - therefore depth
Pun
a play on the multiple meanings of a word or on two words that sound alike but hav edifferent meanings; often used in riddles or to create a riddle effect within a poem; also used to suggest a deeper or supernatural quality to the poem or tis theme
Quatrain
a four-line stanza or poem or a group of four lines unified by a rhyme scheme; the most common verse unit in English poetry; lends structure and form to a poem
Refrain
a repeated word, phrase, line, or group of lines; used to create rhythm, build suspense, or emphasize important words or ideas
Rhyme
repetition of accented vowel sounds and all sounds folowing them in words that are close together in a poem; (types = end rhyme, internal rhyme, approximate rhyme); contributes to a poems song-like rhythm to create memorable patterns
Rhythm
alteration of stressed and unstressed syllables in language; occurs naturally in all forms of spoken and written language; used to create meter in poetry
Repetition
repeating words or phrases; used to create patterns for structure, reinforce theme, tone, etc.
Sestet
six-line stanza or poem or the last six lines or an Italian sonnet; in a sonnet, provides the solution or the resolution
Simile
figure of speech that makes a comparison between two seemingly unlike things by using a connective word such as like, as, than, or resembles; usually creates an image that supports the theme of tone of the poem
Stanza
a group of consecutive lines is a poem that form a single unit; type of poetic paragraph that usually expresses a unit of thought; may consist of only one line or any number of lines beyond that; Italian for stoppingin place or place to rest
Style
the manner in which writer or speakers say what they wish to say; manner of expression unique to the author; may reflect elements of time period, biographical influence, etc.
Symbol
a person, place, thing, or event that stands both for itself and for something beyond itself; serves to expand the meanig of a poem; may be public or personal; probably most frequently used literary device
Synaesthesia
description of one kind of sensation in terms or antother such as substituting color for sound or taste; used to startle the reader into deeper thought leading to deeper understanding; used to create unusual imagery for as support for theme or tone
Theme
central idea or insight of a work; used to convey what the poet wishes to say about the subject of the poem; can present the poet's view of the world or about human nature; is usually implied rather than directly stated
Tone
the attitude the writer takes toward the subjet or the reader; conveyed through figurative language, word choice, diction, etc.; central to the understanding of the poem, the poet's purpose for the poem, etc.