Elements of poetry
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Elements of Poetry. What is a poem? . a composition in verse, especially one that is characterized by a highly developed artistic form and by the use of heightened language and rhythm to express an intensely imaginative interpretation of the subject. . Terms Found Most Often in Poetry:.

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Elements of Poetry

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Elements of Poetry


What is a poem?

  • a composition in verse, especially one that is characterized by a highly developed artistic form and by the use of heightened language and rhythm to express an intensely imaginative interpretation of the subject.


Terms Found Most Often in Poetry:

  • Alliteration

  • Assonance: The repetition of the same vowel sound in several words in the same line of poetry or sentence as in “The lazy babies wailed for cake”.

  • Consonance: The use of the same consonant sound in the middle of several words in a line of poetry as in the l’s in “slowly and silently the mellow willows dangled their branch-like arms.”


  • Blank Verse: Poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. “Blank” means the poetry is not rhymed.

    • “Iambic Pentameter” means that each line consist of five iambs, or metrical feet, consisting of an unstressed syllable (v) followed by a stressed syllable (’).


An iambic foot is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. We could write the rhythm like this:

A line of iambic pentameter is five iambic feet in a row:

We can notate this with a '˘' mark representing an unstressed syllable and a '/' mark representing a stressed syllable[1].

In this notation a line of iambic pentameter would look like this:

  • The following line from John Keats' ode To Autumn is a straightforward example:[2]

    • To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

  • We can notate the scansion of this as follows:


  • Couplet: Two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme.

    • “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”


  • End-stopped line: A line of poetry that has punctuation at the end (.,;:)

  • Run-on line: A line of poetry that has no punctuation at the end.

  • Rhyme Scheme: The repetition of accented vowel sounds and all the sounds following them in words that are close together in a poem.

    • Rhymes that occur at the ends of lines are called end rhyme.

    • Rhyme occurring within lines of poetry is called internal rhyme.

    • The rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhymes formed by the end rhyme in a poem.


  • Refrain: a repeated word, phrase, like, or group of lines.

  • Meter: A generally regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.

  • Rhythm: The pattern created by arranged stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry. Rhythm gives poetry a musical sound.

  • Slant Rhymes: Words that do not rhyme exactly but repeat some sounds such as “hollow” and “mellow” or “look” and “back”.


  • Exact Rhymes: Words that rhyme exactly. (cat and hat)

  • Sonnet: A fourteen line poem.

  • Stanza: A group of lines forming a unit in a poem.

  • Quatrain: A four line stanza in a poem.


Example of a poem:

Dreams by Langston HughesHold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow.


  • How to read a poem…

    • Read through it once circling and making note of anything interesting.

    • Read through it again looking for any imagery that is used.

    • Look for any symbolism and decide what it stands for.

    • Look at the poem as a whole – what is the author trying to say?

Langston Hughes


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