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Flashcards in Poetry Deck (108)
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Two types of poetry

Narrative poetry and Lyric poetry

narrative poetry: poet explores ideas through the medium of a story

lyric poetry: poet gives immediate response to life/ expresses thought and emotion


Narrative poetry + main kinds (3)

A narrative poem is a poem that tells a story.

The main kinds are the epic, the ballad and the romance



Lyrics + main kinds (3)

Vast majority of poems are lyrics

A lyric is a poem in which the poet writes about his or her thoughts and feelings, a direct response to some aspect of experience (e.g. the death of a friend)


Basic type of lyric is the song, but we use the term Lyric' as general label for everything that's not a narrative poem such as the sonnet, the ode and the elegy


Lyric poetry characteristics (3)

  1. works on the basis of a contrast between some problem or some unattractive or disorderly aspect of life vs. an idea of a better, more attractive order
  2. experiences: love, death, nature, religion or a domestic, social or political ssue, but we are always offered the poet's direct response
  3. a lyric is an attempt to confront and understand some aspect of our complex experiences in life
  4. a lyric will either lean more towards an ordered, harmonious picture or lean more towards the disorder that experience offers

(e.g. a love poem will contrast the unhapiness of not being in love with the happiness caused by love)


Disorder/order structure is inherent to poetry in general. This broad structural opposition makes studying poetry easier as you can start by looking for this pattern! 



repetition of the same letter (or, more precisely sound) at the beginning of two or more words in a line of poetry


(e.g. five miles meandering with a mazy motion)


When you notice a feature such as this in a text, explain its function too (e.g. it reinforces the meaning of the words or it clusters certain words together)!


Main function: to lend ideas and images additional emphasis and force


Archaism and function

The use of old or antiquated words in poetry


creates the picture and signal to the reader that we are removed from ordinary experience, and ordinary language


Archaic words are an example of 

poetic diction


poetic diction and function

words found in poetry which are not used in everyday speech or prose


most commonly used is 'O'


to indicate that the poet is leaving dull reality in pursuit of something perfect, but often followed by the stark not ideal reality



repetition of the same vowel sound in two or more words in a line of poetry


e.g. a host of golden daffodils


// alliteration, it reinforces the meaning of the words and links them together - NOT necessarily about the sound effect itself but the MEANING



the repetition of the same consonant sound before and after different vowels in two words


e.g. live - love, escaped - scooped


when consonance replaces rhyme it is called



half-rhyme vs. rhyme effect

  1. half-rhyme 
    • is more clumsy, unlyrical and unharmonious e.g. groined - groaned, escaped - scoped
    • used especially by 20th C poets to suggest a world in fragments without order
  2. rhyme
    • neat, orderly



the traditional ballad is a song that tells a story


ballad characteristics (10)

  1. theme is often tragic (personal misfortune, public events like battles)
  2. supernatural themes
  3. oral form, dating back to the later Middle Ages
  4. simple in structure - four-line stanzas
  5. stock phrases
  6. simple language
  7. the story is central
  8. beginning abrupt, usually when tragedy occurs
  9. unhappy event (unharmonious events) in contrast with music (harmony)
  10. often incremental repetition


incremental repetition

often used in ballads, where lines are repeated from stanza to stanza, but with some small but crucial alteration as the line is repeated


e.g. a sad tale through the town is gaen

a sad tale on the morrow


literary ballad characteristics

more difficult than traditional ballad (that confront a personal or public disaster)

18th C poets took same form and subject matter BUT it does not deal with a tragedy directly

the author writes from a puzzled perspective at life and by presenting a story that refuses a simple interpretation, it offers an impression of the complexity and meaning of the world


blank verse

unrhymed poetry, but a disciplined verse form as each line is an iambic pentameter (a 10-syllable line with five emphasis/stresses)


blank verse use

  1. appears less formally contrived than a poem that rhymes
  2. good medium for long narrative poem about a complex story or exploring experience 
  3. good medium for lyric poem where the poet is thinks in a discursive way rather than fitting his thoughts into stanza and rhyme patterns (--> sonnet)
  4. maintains variety by shifting the pause in the line and by using run-on lines in the verse paragraph


Often used by Shakespeare and other Renaissance dramatists!


verse paragraph

verse paraghraphs are separate sections in a blank-verse poem (in other poems we call them stanzas)



It is a far-fetched methapor in which a very unlikely connection between two things is established


e.g. lover's souls as being like the two legs of a pair of compasses


conceit most common in what C?

most common in 17th C metaphysical poetry meant to strike us as ingenious = we are meant to feel that it takes invention and imagination to forge a connection


metaphysical poetry characteristics (4)

  1. conceits
  2. complicated arguments
  3. convoluted syntax
  4. rapid jumps from idea to idea 


courtly-love poetry

Courtly-love poetry is generally concerned with an idealised view of love


courtly love poetry characteristics (2) + examples writers

  1. an idealised view of love in contrast with the complexity of real relationships
  2. reader often unsure on how to respond, both moved or amused 


Chaucer's narrative poems, but also common in Elzabethan sonnets (Shakespeare, Sidney)


dramatic monologue

  1. a poem in which an imaginary speaker addresses an audience


dramatic monologue characteristics

  1. the poem usually takes place at a critical moment in the speaker's life
  2. offers an indirect revelation of his/her temperament and personality
  3. common in plays and longer poems 
  4. represent one person's response to life
    • more specifically an imagined character's interpretation of the world they encounter (not the poet's direct view of life!)


dream poetry

a poem that tells of a dream (also called dream visions and dream allegories)


dream poetry characteristics

  1. popular in Middle Ages (Chaucer)
  2. contrast between the dream and the realities of everyday life
  3. something significant can be discovered, revealed or explored in the dream (there's a value of what is revealed in the unconscious or semi-conscious mind)
  4. re-emerges in poetry in the romantic period (Keats, Coleridge)


18th Century poetry (+ 2 other names)

Generally social poetry concerned with manners and morals


Also called Augustan (1700-1745) and neoclassic (1660-end of 18th C)


18th C poetry characteristics (8)

  1. writer looks at corrupt society and offers corrective thinking 
  2. emphasis on decorum and moderation (basic meaning of poem is transparent as they are against excess)
  3. heroic couplet as common verse form
    • it suggests an idea of balance and order, writers look back at classical authors who had established enduring models
  4. topical references (but again meaning transparent)
  5. satiric, mocking the erant
  6. poet writes from ironic superiority
  7. balanced couplets suggesting a standard of behaviour and correctness against e.g. corrupt society
  8. increasing amount of women poets