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The Language Of Musicality In Poetry: Vocabulary For Poets

 Because poetry tends to be an especially musical form of writing, there are a number of words that poets use to talk about their particular techniques. Here is some vocabulary to help you discuss the music of your poetry. Knowing these word definitions will help you discuss poems. Enjoy!

Alliteration
Repetition of consonant sounds, usually at the beginning of words.

Anapest
Two unaccented syllables followed by an accented one, as in un-der-STAND.

Assonance
Repetition of similar vowel sounds.

Caesura
A pause within a line.

Dactyl
A stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones, as in SHUD-der-ing.

Diction
The selection of words in a literary work—for example, if a narrator says blood-red, that selection has different connotations than rose-red, even though the colors may be similar.

Elision
The omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable—such as o’er for over.

Falling meter
Meters that move (or fall) from stressed syllables to unstressed syllables.

Foot
A unit of measure in a metrical line; syllables included in a kind of musical bar or measure.

Iamb (as in Iambic)
An unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, as in at-TEMPT.

Meter
The pattern of accents in poems.

Onomatopoeia
Words that imitate the sounds they describe.

Pyrrhic
A metrical foot composed of two unstressed syllables (as in for the).

Rhyme
Matching sounds in two or more words.

Rhythm

The repetition of accents or stresses.

Rising meter
Poetic meters that move (or ascend) from unstressed to stressed.

Spondee
A metrical foot represented by two stressed syllables.

Style
The way an author selects and arranges words, and develops ideas using literary techniques.

Syntax
The order of words.

Tone
The writer’s attitude implicitly conveyed through diction, syntax, etc.

Trochee
Accented syllable followed by an unaccented one, as in MAY-be.

If you love words, we know you love poetry vocabulary! Use these definitions when talking about your poetry.

7 Responses to The Language Of Musicality In Poetry: Vocabulary For Poets

  1. Yes…I too had a list of poetry styles from high school that disappeared. Gonna print this article for future reference for sure. Poetry comes easier to me than writing a story. …SO much faster to convey a sentiment and bend words into place to paint your picture. Thank you so much for these tips! Will come in handy!

  2. Recently, I was invited to join a poetry group created by my neighbors here in my senior community building. My past experience with poetry – so far as creating original work – spans nearly 40 years – off and on. My poems were spontaneous, inspired by things that happened on the job or in my family; they just happened with no formal planning or effort to follow meter, alliteration, or any of the other poetry mechanics. I had forgotten nearly everything I had learned way-back-when in high school. I was pleasantly surprised by this article from Writer’s Relief and will certainly use it to help me re-learn the nuts and bolts of the art of writing poetry.

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