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Dictionary of Poetry Forms and its Terms

  • ABC poem - An ABC poem has 5 lines that create a mood, picture, or feeling.Lines 1 through 4 are made up of words, phrases or clauses - and the first word of each line is in alphabetical order from the first word. Line 5 is one sentence, beginning with any letter.
  • Acrostic- First Letter in Lines Spell a word.
  • Ballad - A poem that tells a story similar to a folk tale or legend and often has a repeated refrain.
  • Ballade- A type of poem, usually with three stanzas of seven, eight, or ten lines and a shorter final stanza of four or five lines. All stanzas end with the same one-line refrain.
  • Blank verse-Poetry that is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. Blank verse is often unobtrusive and the iambic pentameter form often resembles the rhythms of ordinary speech. Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in blank verse.
  • Burlesque- Burlesque is a story, play, or essay, that treats a serious subject ridiculously, or is simply a trivial story
  • Canzone - A medieval Italian lyric poem, with five or six stanzas and a shorter concluding stanza (or envoy). The poet Patriarch was a master of the canzone.
  • Carpe diem - A Latin expression that means "seize the day." Carpe diem poems have the theme of living for today.
          Line 1 is one word (the title)
          Line 2 is two words that describe the title.
          Line 3 is three words that tell the action
          Line 4 is four words that express the feeling
          Line 5 is one word that recalls the title
  • Classicism - The principles and ideals of beauty that are characteristic of Greek and Roman art, architecture, and literature. Examples of classicism in poetry can be found in the works of John Dryden and Alexander Pope, which are characterized by their formality, simplicity, and emotional restraint.
  • Couplet - A couplet has rhyming stanzas each made up of two lines. Shakespearean sonnets usually end in a couplet.
  • Double Acrostic - This poem involves repetition of same letter both at the beginning and the ending of the poem
  • Elegy - A sad and thoughtful poem lamenting the death of a person. An example of this type of poem is Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."
  • Epic - A long, serious poem that tells the story of a heroic figure. Two of the most famous epic poems are the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer and the epic poem of Hiawatha.
  • Epigram - A very short, satirical and witty poem usually written as a brief couplet or quatrain. The term epigram is derived from the Greek word epigramma, meaning inscription.
  • Epitaph - An epitaph is a commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument written in praise of a deceased person.
  • Epithalamium (or Epithalamion) - A wedding poem written in honour of a bride and bridegroom.
  • Fibonacci PoetryFibonacci poetry is a form based on the Fibonacci number sequence.The Fibonacci sequence begins with either zero or one, followed by one, and proceeds based on the rule that each number called a Fibonacci number is equal to the sum of the preceding two numbers. 
  • Haiku - A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Haiku reflects on some aspect of nature.
  • Idyll, or Idyl - Either a short poem depicting a peaceful, idealized country scene, or a long poem that tells a story about heroes of a bye gone age.
  • Lay - A lay is a long narrative poem, especially one that was sung by medieval minstrels called trouvères.
  • Limerick - A short sometimes bawdy, humorous poem of consisting of five anapaestic lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 of a Limerick have seven to ten syllables and rhyme with one another. Lines 3 and 4 have five to seven syllables and also rhyme with each other. 
  • Lyric - A poem, such as a sonnet or an ode, that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet. The term lyric is now generally referred to as the words to a song.

  • List -A poem that is made up of a list of items or events. It can be any length and rhymed or unrhymed.

  • Name Poem - A name poem tells about the word. It uses the letters of the word for the first letter of each line.
  • Narrative Poetry- Ballads, epics, and lays are different kinds of narrative poems.
  • Ode - John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is probably the most famous example of this type of poem which is long and serious in nature written to a set structure.
  • Pastoral - A poem that depicts rural life in a peaceful, idealized way for example of shepherds or country life.
     A stanza or poem of four lines.
     Lines 2 and 4 must rhyme.
     Lines 1 and 3 may or may not rhyme.
     Rhyming lines should have a similar number of syllables.

  • Rhyme - A rhyme has the repetition of the same or similar sounds at the end of two or more words most often at the ends of lines. There are several derivatives of this term which include double rhyme, Triple rhyme, rising rhyme, falling rhyme, Perfect and imperfect rhymes.
  • Rhyme royal - A type of poetry introduced by Geoffrey Chaucer consisting of stanzas of seven lines in iambic pentameter.
  • Romanticism - Nature and love were a major themes of Romanticism favoured by 18th and 19th century poets such as Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Emphasis was placed on the personal experiences of the individual.
  • Senryu - A short Japanese poem that is similar to a haiku in structure but treats human beings rather than nature, often in a humorous or satiric way.
  • Tanka - A Japanese poem of five lines, the first and third composed of five syllables and the rest of seven.
  • Terza rima- A type of poetry consisting of 10 or 11 syllable lines arranged in three-line "tercets". The poet Dante is credited with inventing terza rima and it has been used by many English poets including Chaucer, Milton, Shelley, and Auden.
  • Sonnet - English (or Shakespearean) sonnets are lyric poems that are 14 lines long falling into three coordinate quatrains and a concluding couplet. Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnets are divided into two quatrains and a six-line sestet.
  • Verse - A single metrical line of poetry, or poetry in general (as opposed to prose).
  • Villanelle - A poetic form to express a feeling or an idea . It has a total of 19 lines in the pattern of 3-3-3-3-3-4 i.e in five tercets and a concluding quatrain.

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A figure of speech used in a exaggerating way.Examplpe:waiting for ages,
tons of money etc

Onomatopoeia is the use words to imitate so as to bring an image to  listener's or reader's imagination.The explosive consonant sounds (such as the sound of b, d, k, p and t) brings mind more violent actions.Eg: She dropped herself over the bed.

The sibilant consonant sounds (such as s, sh and f) have a gentler sound, and are often used in descriptions of water or flowing motions.Eg: The sea shells flows with the water.
The z sound is often used for buzzing sounds Eg. buzz of a bee.

Onomatopoeia is the formation or use of words such as buzz or murmur that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.

Example :
baah, bang, bar, beep, belch, boing, boom, bubble, burp, buzz, cackle, chirp, chomp, chortle, chuckle, clang, clap, clash, clatter, click, clip-clop, clun, kcock-a-doodle-doo, cough, crackle, creak, croak, crunch, ding, drip, fizz, flutter, gasp, groan, growl, grunt, guffaw, gurgle, hiss, honk, hoot howl, knock, knock, meow, moan, mumble, munch, murmer, mutter, neigh, oink, ping, pitter-patter, plink, plop, pop, purr, quack, ribbit, rip, roar, rumble, rustle, screech, shush, slap, slither, smack, smash, snap, snarl, snore, snort, snuffle, splash, splat, splatter, splutter, squawk, squeak, squelch, thud, thwack, tick-tock, trickle, twang, tweet, waffle, whimper, whir, whiz, whoosh, woof, yawn, yelp and zip.

The similarity in sound between only the last syllables of a word or verse.

The similarity in sound between the last two syllables of a word or verse.

An idiom is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning or the associative or connotative meaning. 
Example: A drop in the ocean
A very small part of something.

Example: A piece of cake
Meaning : 
Easy, simple to do, no difficulties.

Puns are plays on words often for humorous effect. This example comes from's funniest puns list: "I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me."

In Webster ,it is defined as "the humorous use of a word, or of words which are formed or sounded alike but have different meanings, in such a way as to play on two or more of the possible applications; a play on words."A pun is often considered obvious humor, since the person relating it is merely balancing the humor in it on a twist of a word's meaning or sound. 

Children love this type of obvious humor and can laugh at it without reproachments.Adults, on the other hand, are more likely to have a twinge of envy, and "why didn't I think of that?". It is this envy in adults that subconsciously causes them to groan upon hearing a pun. As time goes on, it can only be hoped that we adults will eventually learn to react more like a child and less like a groan-up!

I used to have a fear of hurdles, but I got over it.
I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.