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BASIC LITERATURE : POETRY

Poem - a piece of writing that usually has figurative language and that is written in
separate lines that often have a repeated rhythm and sometimes rhyme.
THE ELEMENTS OF POETRY
The basic elements of poetry include the speaker, content, theme, shape and form,
mood or tone, imagery, diction, figurative language and sound-effect devices.
1. Speaker
The poems speaker is the person who is addressing the reader. Sometimes, the speaker
is the poet, who addresses the reader directly or another person. The poet reveals the
identity of the speaker in various ways. Choice of words, focus of attention and attitudes
will indicate the age, perspective and identity of the speaker.
2. Content
Content is the subject of the poem. It answers the question what? What is the poem all
about? What happens in the poem?
3. Theme
The theme of the poem is the meaning of the poem the main idea that the poet is
trying to communicate. The theme may be stated directly or it may be implied.
4. Shape and Form
Basically, the actual shape and form of poems can vary dramatically from poem to poem.
In poetry, you will encounter two forms: structured and free verse. Structured poetry has
predictable patterns of rhyme, rhythm, line-length and stanza construction. Some
examples are the sonnet and the haiku. In free verse, the poet experiments with the
form of the poem. The rhythm, number of syllables per line and stanza construction do
not follow a pattern.
5. Mood or Tone
The mood or tone of a poem is the feeling that the poet creates and that the reader
senses through the poets choice of words, rhythm, rhyme, style and structure. Poems
may express many moods humorous, sarcastic, joyous, angry or solemn.
6. Imagery
Imagery refers to the pictures which we perceive with our minds eyes, ears, nose,
tongue, skin, and through which we experience the duplicate world created by poetic
language. Imagery evokes the meaning and truth of human experiences not in abstract
terms, as in philosophy, but in more perceptible and tangible forms. This is a device by
which the poet makes his meaning strong, clear and sure. The poet uses sound words
and words of color and touch in addition to figures of speech. As well, concrete details
that appeal to the readers senses are used to build up images.
POETRYS RHYTHM
Rhythm - is derived from rhythmos (Greek) that means, Measured motion. It is a
literary device in which it demonstrates the long and short patterns through stressed and
unstressed syllables particularly in verse form.

Rhythm gives a poem its sound, and there are many different ways that rhythm is used,
and lots of elements in poetry that are related to rhythm.
Stress / Accent - Stress is the emphasis given to the syllable.
A line of poetry is filled with syllables. When a syllable is given emphasis, it is called a
stressed syllable.
Example: water has two syllables: wa ter
The first syllable (wa) is the stressed syllable it is pronounced with more
emphasis than the second syllable (ter), which is the unstressed syllable.
Foot - is a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. There are
many
different combinations, but some are more popular than others. An unstressed (or light)
syllable is
marked with a and a stressed syllable (or heavy) is marked with a
a. Iamb (Iambic) - weak syllable followed by strong syllable. [Note that the pattern is sometimes
fairly hard to maintain, as in the third foot.]

b.

Trochee (Trochaic): strong syllable followed by a weak syllable.

c.

Anapest (Anapestic): two weak syllables followed by a strong syllable.

e.g.
In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed...
From "The Writer", by Richard Wilbur

d.

Dactyl (Dactylic): a strong syllable followed by two weak syllables.

DD
Here's another (silly) example of dactylic rhythm.
DDDA was an / archer, who / shot at a / frog
DDDB was a / butcher, and / had a great / dog
DDDC was a / captain, all / covered with / lace
DDDD was a / drunkard, and / had a red / face.

e. Spondee (Spondaic): two strong syllables (not common as lines, but appears as a
foot). A spondee usually appears at the end of a line.

Meter - the number of feet that is in a line of poetry. A line of poetry can have any
number of feet,
and can have more than one type of foot. There are some meters that are used more
often
than others.
Monometer: a line with 1 foot
Trimeter: A line with 3 feet
Pentameter: A line with 5 feet
Heptameter: A line with 7 feet

Dimeter: A line with 2 feet


Tetrameter: A line with 4 feet
Hexameter: A line with 6 feet
Octameter: a line with 8 feet

If a line of poetry has 5 feet, and those 5 feet are all iambs, you have a line of poetry
that is
called iambic pentameter. This is the most common metric pattern in formal poetry.
Example: How do / I love / thee? Let / me count / the ways.
Irregularity: Many metered poems in English avoid perfectly regular rhythm because it
is monotonous. Irregularities in rhythm add interest and emphasis to the lines.
Verse - is used to refer to any single, lone line of a poetry composition. A metrical
writing line is known as verse. The word can however, also refer to a stanza or any other
part of the poetry.
Example:
A single line or stanza in a poem would be an example of verse.
Blank Verse: Any poetry that does have a set metrical pattern (usually iambic
pentameter), but does not have rhyme, is blank verse. Shakespeare frequently used
unrhymed iambic pentameter in his plays; his works are an early example of blank verse.
Free Verse: Most modern poetry no longer follows strict rules of meter or rhyme,
especially throughout an entire poem. Free verse, frankly, has no rules about meter or
rhyme whatsoever! [In other words, blank verse has rhythm, but no rhyme, while free
verse has neither rhythm nor rhyme.] So, you may find it difficult to find regular iambic
pentameter in a modern poem, though you might find it in particular lines. Modern poets
do like to throw in the occasional line or phrase of metered poetry, particularly if theyre
trying to create a certain effect. Free verse can also apply to a lack of a formal verse
structure.
Scansion - when you scan a poem, you are looking for the metrical patterns in a poem.
By scanning a
poem, you are looking for the patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables, allowing you
to figure
out the type of feet being used. You will then be able to figure out the meter of the
poem,

whether it be iambic pentameter, anapestic trimeter or trochaic hexameter.


Caesura - a caesura is punctuation somewhere else other than at the end of a line of
poetry.
Example: There are their fragments, all I remember of them,
wanting more knowledge of them. In the mirror and in my kids
I see them in my flesh. Wherever we are
they parade in my brain
Enjambment - when the idea or phrase in a poem is carried over from one line into the
next.
Example: Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones
are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones
in their hip-pockets as a thing thats done,
and start their silent swinging, one by one.

POETRYS FORM
Stanza - a group of lines in a poem. A stanza is similar to the paragraph.
couplet (2 lines), tercet (3 lines), quatrain (4 lines), cinquain (5 lines), sestet (6 lines)
(sometimes it's called a sexain), septet (7 lines), octave (8 lines)
A poem may or may not have a specific number of lines, rhyme scheme and/or metrical
pattern, but it can still be labeled according to its form or style. Here are the three most
common types of poems according to form:
1. Lyric Poetry: It is any poem with one speaker (not necessarily the poet) who
expresses strong thoughts and feelings. Most poems, especially modern ones, are lyric
poems.

Ode - is a dignified and elaborately structured lyric poem praising and glorifying an
individual, commemorating an event, or describing nature intellectually rather than
emotionally. Odes originally were songs performed to the accompaniment of a
musical instrument.

Elegy - is a lyric poem, written in elegiac couplets, that expresses sorrow or


lamentation, usually for one who has died. This type of work stemmed out of a
Greek word known as elegus, a song of mourning or lamentation that is
accompanied by the lyre.

Sonnet - is a short poem with fourteen lines, usually written in iambic pentameter.
There are many rhyming patterns for sonnets.

Italian or Petrarchan has two stanzas: the first of eight lines is called octave and has
the rhyme-scheme abba abba; the second of six lines is called the sestet and has the
rhyme cdecde or cdcdcd.
The Spenserian sonnet, developed by Edmund Spenser, has three quatrains and a
heroic couplet, in iambic pentameter with rhymes ababbcbccdcdee.

The English sonnet, developed by Shakespeare, has three quatrains and a heroic
couplet, in iambic pentameter with rhymes ababcdcdefefgg.

Song - is a lyric poem which is set to music. All songs have a strong beat created
largely through the 3Rs: rhythm, rhyme, and repetition.

Simple lyric - is a short poem expressing the poets thought, feeling, or emotion.
2. Narrative Poem: It is a poem that tells a story; its structure resembles the plot line of
a story [i.e. the introduction of conflict and characters, rising action, climax and the
denouement].

Ballad - a poem similar to a folk tale which uses a repeated refrain. This means
that every few stanzas a portion of the poem is repeated, much like a song.

Epic - a long, serious poem which tells the story of a hero. Think of stories like
Odyssey or Ben-Hur.

Idyll - an idyll speaks of someone or something in a way that it should be idolized.


For example, today many stories of Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr. could be
written about in an idyll. However, an even better example could be George
Washington.

Lay - a long poem which was sung by medieval minstrels. The long poems
generally were about the news of the day or historical facts they wished to be
passed along throughout the countryside.

3. Descriptive Poem/Dramatic Poem: It is a poem that describes the world that


surrounds the speaker. It uses elaborate imagery and adjectives. While emotional, it is
more "outward-focused" than lyric poetry, which is more personal and introspective.

Dramatic monologue is a literary device that is used when a character reveals


his or her innermost thoughts and feelings, those that are hidden throughout the
course of the story line, through a poem or a speech. This speech, where only one
character speaks, is recited while other characters are present onstage.

Soliloquy is the act of speaking while alone, especially when used as a theatrical
device that allows a characters thoughts and ideas to be conveyed to the
audience.

Other types of poems include:


Haiku: It has an unrhymed verse form having three lines (a tercet) and usually 5,7,5
syllables, respectively. It's usually considered a lyric poem.
Limerick: It has a very structured poem, usually humorous & composed of five lines (a
cinquain), in an aabba rhyming pattern; beat must be anapestic (weak, weak, strong)
with 3 feet in lines 1, 2, & 5 and 2 feet in lines 3 & 4. It's usually a narrative poem based
upon a short and often ribald anecdote.

WORD SOUNDS
Another type of sound play is the emphasis on individual sounds and words:
Alliteration: the repetition of initial sounds on the same line or stanza - Big bad Bob
bounced bravely.
Assonance: the repetition of vowel sounds (anywhere in the middle or end of a line or
stanza) - Tilting at windmills
Consonance: the repetition of consonant sounds (anywhere in the middle or end of a
line or stanza) - And all the air a solemn stillness holds. (T. Gray)
Onomatopoeia: words that sound like that which they describe - Boom! Crash! Pow!
Quack! Moo! Caress...
Repetition: the repetition of entire lines or phrases to emphasize key thematic ideas.
Parallel Stucture: a form of repetition where the order of verbs and nouns is repeated;
it may involve exact words, but it more importantly repeats sentence structure - "I came,
I saw, I conquered".
FIGURES OF SPEECH
1. Simile - compares two unrelated things or ideas using "like" or "as" to accentuate
a certain feature of an object by comparing it to a dissimilar object that is a typical
example of that particular trait.
For example: as big as a bus, as clear as a bell, as dry as a bone.
2. Metaphor - metaphor compares two different or unrelated things to reveal certain
new qualities in the subject, which you might have ignored or overlooked
otherwise.
For example: The streets of Chennai are a furnace.
3. Personification - is all about adding a human trait to an inanimate object or an
abstraction.
For example: The picture in that magazine shouted for attention.
4. Hyperbole - far-fetched, over exaggerated description or sentence is called as
hyperbole and is commonly used in jokes and making backhanded compliments.
For example: When she smiles, her cheeks fall off.
5. Apostrophe - is used when a person who is absent or nonexistent is spoken to.
For example: "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are. Up above the
world so high, Like a diamond in the sky."
6. Irony - is used to stress on the opposite meaning of a word. When people are
looking to be sarcastic, they employ irony. For example: He was so intelligent, that
he failed all his tests.

7. Analogy - an analogy is a figure of speech that equates two things to explain


something unfamiliar by highlighting its similarities to something that is familiar.
This figure of speech is commonly used in spoken and written English.
For example: I feel like a fish out of water. This implies that you are not comfortable in
your surroundings.
8. Allusion - is an indirect or subtle reference made about a person, place or thing in
a work of literature.
For example: Dont be a Romeo.
9. Allegory - it is a figure of speech, which involves the use of characters or actions
in a piece of literature, wherein the characters have more to them than meets the
eye.
For example: Dove (actually presents peace)
10.
Antecedent - is a word, a phrase, or a clause that is usually replaced by a
pronoun in a sentence, but regularly so in a following sentence.
For example: When I arrived to meet Caleb, he wasn't to be seen.
11.
Adjunction - is a phrase or a clause that is placed at the start of a sentence.
An adjunction, in most cases, is a verb.
For example: Runs the leopard past us as we stray deeper into his territory.
12.
Anaphora - is a literary and rhetorical device in which a word or group of
words is repeated at the beginning of two or more successive clauses or
sentences. This technique adds emphasis and unity to the clauses.
For example, look at the function of the words if only in the following sentence: If
only I hadnt gone to the market that day, if only I hadnt dropped my bag, if only we
hadnt met.
13.
Epistrophe or epiphora - is the repetition of the same word or words at the
end of consecutive phrases, clauses or sentences. It is extremely emphatic and is
usually employed to stress the last word in a phrase or sentence. For example,
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within
us." -Emerson
14.
Tautology - is needless repetition of words to denote the same thing.
For example: CD-ROM disk, PIN number, ATM machine, etc.
15.
Chiasmus - is another important figure of speech wherein two or more
clauses are joined together through a reversing the syntax to convey a bigger
point.
For example, "I flee who chases me, and chase who flees me." - (Ovid)
16.
Paralipsis - is a figure of speech that focuses on any particular thing without
really making it obvious. For example: I know who ate the last apple, but I will not
mention Karen's name.
17.
Appositive - is a noun or noun phrase that renames another noun right
beside it.

For example: Jeanne, Diane's eleven-year-old beagle, chews holes in the living room
carpeting as if he were still a puppy.
18.
Antithesis - is a figure of speech where two very opposing lines of thought
or ideas are placed in a somewhat balanced sentenced.
For example: Man proposes: God disposes. You are easy on the eyes, hard on the
heart.
19.
Paradox - is a figure of speech in which a statement appears to contradict
itself.
For example: "War is peace.""Freedom is slavery.""Ignorance is strength."
20.
Oxymoron - is a figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly
contradictory terms appear side by side; a compressed paradox.
For example: Original copies, liquid gas
21.
Litotes - is a figure of speech in which a negative statement is used to
affirm a positive sentiment.
For example: Hes no fool. Im not bad at it.
22.
Jargon - is the kind of language that is specific to a particular trade,
occupation, professionals or group of people. For example: I need your vitals.
23.
Epithet - can be best defined as a descriptive title that commonly involves a
word or a phrase that is used in lieu of the real name.
For example: Alexander the Great.
24.
Imagery - is a figure of speech, which employs words to create mental
images in the mind of the reader. It is a powerful tool and mostly used by poets,
lyricists and authors.
For example: "Cloudless everyday you fall upon my waking eyes inviting and inciting
me to rise
25.
Symbol - refers to the use of an object or symbol to represent or indicate
something else.
For example: The symbolism of a red rose (love), the symbolism of a white flag
(peace)
26.
Pun - is a figure of speech that plays with words to give away obscured
meanings. A pun is also known as paronomasia.
For example: I crashed my car and now I know how the Mercedes bends.
27.
Idiom - is a phrase, expression or group of words whose implication is not
clear when you go by the literal meaning of words.
For example: As easy as pie, at the eleventh hour, pull someone's leg, etc.
28.
Metonymy - is a figure of speech where one word or phrase is used in place
of another. With metonymies, a name of a particular thing is substituted with the
name of a thing that is closely related to it. For example: "We have always
remained loyal to the crown."

29.
Synecdoche - is a figure of speech where a part of a particular object is
employed to throw light on the whole thing. For example: Describing a whole
vehicle as just "wheels".
30.
Stereotype - as far as the figures of speech are concerned, is a convention,
a predisposition or a set approach to any particular issue.
For example: All blondes are dumb.
31.
Palindrome - is a series of numbers, words or phrases that reads the same
in either direction.
For example: eye, level, mom
32.
Euphemism - is a figure of speech where an offensive word or expression is
replaced with a polite word. For example: I need some space (go away), He passed
away (died)
33. Double negatives - are two negative words used in the same sentence. Using
two negatives turns the thought or sentence into a positive one.
For example: That wont do you no good. I aint got no time for supper.
Colloquialism - use of informal words, phrases or even slang in a piece of writing.
For example: Whats up? (Instead of How are you?), gonna (going to), yall (you all)
Syllogism - a deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises that
inevitably led to a sound conclusion. A=B, B=C, so A=C. "All men are mortal; Socrates is
a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal."
Synonym A word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or
phrase.
Antonym A word opposite in meaning to another
Homonym Words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or
spelling; a homophone
For example: Acts (things done) and Ax (chopping tool), Ad (advertisement) and Add
(short for addition)
Denotation - is the literal or denotative meaning
For example, a tiger is a carnivorous animal of the cat family.
Connotation - are the suggestive, figurative or connotative meanings
For example, you snake.