AP Literature Terminology

Terms in this set (151)

In classical Greco-Roman literature, "____" refers to any poem written in _____ meter (alternating hexameter and pentameter lines). More broadly, ____ came to mean any poem dealing with the subject-matter common to the early Greco-Roman elegies--complaints about love, sustained formal lamentation, or somber meditations. Typically, _____ are marked by several conventions of genre:
• The _____, much like the classical epic, typically begins with an invocation of the muse, and then continues with allusions to classical mythology.
• The poem usually contains a poetic speaker who uses the first person.
• The speaker raises questions about justice, fate, or providence.
• The poet digresses about the conditions of his own time or his own situation.
• The digression allows the speaker to move beyond his original emotion or thinking to a higher level of understanding.
• The conclusion of the poem provides consolation or insight into the speaker's situation. In Christian _____, the lyric reversal often moves from despair and grief to joy when the speaker realizes that death or misfortune is but a temporary barrier separating one from the bliss of eternity.
• The poem tends to be longer than a lyric but not as long as an epic.
• The poem is not plot-driven.
In the case of pastoral ____ in the 1600s, 1700s, and early 1800s, there are several other common conventions:
• The speaker mourns the death of a close friend; the friend is eulogized in the highest possible terms, but represented as if he were a shepherd.
• The mourner charges with negligence the nymphs or guardians of the shepherd who failed to preserve him from death.
• Appropriate mourners appear to lament the shepherd's death.
• Post-Renaissance poets often include an elaborate passage in which flowers appear to deck the hearse or grave, with various flowers having symbolic meaning appropriate to the scene.
A recognizable rhythm through varying pattern of stressed syllables alternating with syllables of less stress. Compositions written in meter are said to be in verse. There are many possible patterns of verse. Each unit of stress and unstressed syllables is called a "foot." There are five main types of meter:
• Iambic (the noun is "iamb" or "iambus"): a lightly stressed syllable followed by a heavily stressed syllable. Ex: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Iambic is the most common poetic meter, probably because it follows the natural rhythm of a heartbeat.
• Trochaic (the noun is "trochee"): a stressed followed by a light syllable. Ex: "Once upon a midnight dreary / While I pondered weak and weary." Because trochaic inverts the more "natural" sounding rhythm of iambic, trochaic is often used to create an unsettling feeling or tense cadence.
• Anapestic (the noun is "anapest"): two light syllables followed by a stressed syllable: Ex: "Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house / Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse." Anapestic meter is, obviously, longer than iambic or trochaic meter and because of its length and the fact that it ends with a stressed syllable and so allows for strong rhymes, anapests can produce a very rolling, galloping feeling verse, allowing for long lines with a great deal of internal complexity. BTW, "anapest" is, itself, an anapest.
• Dactylic (the noun is "dactyl"): a stressed syllable followed by two light syllables: Ex: "Picture yourself on a boat on a river with / Tangerine tree¬-ees and marmalade skies." Written in dactylic tetrameter, the verses of the song have the rhythm of a waltz. Dactyls are the metrical foot of Greek elegiac poetry, which followed a line of dactylic hexameter with dactylic pentameter. A good mnemonic device is to remember that the first three syllables of "pterodactyl" are dactylic.
• Spondaic (the noun is "spondee"): two or more stressed syllables concurrently. Ex: Break, break, break / O thy cold grey stones..." Sponaic meter, for perhaps obviously reasons, is basically an impossible meter in which to write an entire poem (you are going to have an unstressed syllable eventually). Instead, spondees in an otherwise metered poem can draw attention to a particular line and/or create a sense of urgency.
Iambs and anapests, since the strong stress is at the end, are called "rising meter"; trochees and dactyls, with the strong stress at the beginning with lower stress at the end, are called "falling meter." Each line of a poem contains a certain number of feet of iambs, trochees, spondees, dactyls or anapests. A line of one foot is a monometer, 2 feet is a dimeter, and so on - trimeter (3), tetrameter (4), pentameter (5), hexameter (6), heptameter (7), and octameter (8). The number of syllables in a line varies therefore according to the meter. So then the first example, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day," would be five feet of iambs, or iambic pentameter which is the most widely employed rhythmic pattern.
Sometimes a poet will intentionally drop a syllable from the beginning of ending of a line or lines, thus creating metrically incomplete lines of verse, which is called cataletic line or cataletic meter. For instance, William Blake begins his poem "The Tyger" with "Tyger, Tyger, burning bright / In the shadows of the night." The lines are trocaic (Tyger, Tyger, burning bright / In the shadows of the night") but both lines are missing the final syllable, making them cataletic (this could have easily been fixed if Blake had written "brightly" instead of just "bright"). Cataletic meter is often used to instill the line or poem with a sense of tension, loss, or incompleteness.
A lyric poem of fourteen lines, usually in iambic pentameter, with rhymes arranged according to certain definite patterns. It usually expresses a single, complete idea or thought with a reversal, twist, or change of direction in the concluding lines. There are two common forms:
• Petrarchan or Italian Sonnet: Petrarchan sonnet has an eight line stanza (called an octave) followed by a six line stanza (called a sestet). The octave has two quatrains rhyming abba, abba, the first of which presents the theme, the second further develops it. In the sestet, the first three lines reflect on or exemplify the theme, while the last three bring the poem to a unified end. The sestet may be arranged cdecde, cdcdcd, or cdedce. Ex:

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
(Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Sonnet XLIII")
• Shakespearean or English Sonnet: Shakespearean sonnet has three quatrains; each rhymed differently, with a final, independently rhymed couplet that makes an effective, unifying climax to the whole. Its rhyme scheme is abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Typically, the final two lines follow a "turn" or a "volta" (from "volte-face," or "about-face") because they reverse, undercut, or turn from the original line of thought to take the idea in a new direction. Ex:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
(William Shakespeare, "Sonnet XVIII")
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