Literature Terms

These are some literature terms (although some are just poetry terms) that I have learned/am learning about.  Hope you’ll be able to incorporate some of these in your writing!

A representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures,
or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form and can often be an
extended metaphor for a specific historical or political event.

A stylistic device, or literary technique, in which successive words (more
strictly, stressed syllables) begin with the same consonant sound or letter.

The repetition of vowel sounds within a short passage of verse.

The set of associations implied by a word in addition to its literal meaning.

The repetition of consonant sounds in a short sequence of words.

The literal dictionary meaning(s) of a word as distinct from an associated
idea or connotation.

End Rhyme
A rhyme in the final syllable(s) of a verse.

A feature in poetry where the syntactic unit (phrase, clause, or sentence)
corresponds in length to the line.

The breaking of a syntactic unit (a phrase, clause, or sentence) by the end
of a line or between two verses. Its opposite is end-stopping, where each
linguistic unit corresponds with a single line.

Extended Metaphor
A metaphor which is drawn out beyond the usual word or phrase to
extend throughout a stanza or an entire poem, usually by using multiple
comparisons between the unlike objects or ideas.

The use of words, phrases, symbols, and ideas in such as way as to evoke
mental images and sense impressions.

A unit of rhythm or meter; the division in verse of a group of syllables, one
of which is long or accented.

A Japanese form of poetry consisting of three unrhymed lines of five,
seven, and five syllables. Traditionally, they contain either a direct or
oblique reference to a season.

The use of expressive or evocative images in poetry, art, literature, or

Internal Rhyme
Also called middle rhyme, a rhyme occurring within the line. The rhyme
may be with words within the line but not at the line end, or with a word
within the line and a word at the end of the line.

A rhetorical trope defined as a direct comparison between two or more
seemingly unrelated subjects. This device is known for usage in literature,
especially in poetry, where with few words, emotions and associations
from one context are associated with objects and entities in a different

A measure of rhythmic quantity in poetry. The organized succession
of groups of syllables at basically regular intervals in a line of poetry,
according to definite metrical patterns. The unit of meter is the foot.

A form of stately and elaborate lyrical verse, usually of a serious meditative
nature and having a formal stanzaic structure.

The speaker or voice of a literary work who is doing the talking. Thus
persona is the “I” of a narrative or the implied speaker of a lyric poem.

Rhyme Scheme
The pattern established by the arrangement of rhymes in a stanza or
poem, generally described by using letters of the alphabet to denote the
recurrence of rhyming lines.

An essential of all poetry, the regular or progressive pattern of recurrent
accents in the flow of a poem the rise and fall of stresses on words in the
metrical feet.

A fixed form consisting of fourteen lines of 5-foot iambic verse at times
following a strict rhyme scheme. The conventions associated with the
sonnet have changed during its history.

Slant Rhyme
Sometimes known as half or off rhyme, a rhyme in which the sounds are
similar, but not exact often using consonance or assonance.

To place emphasis on a syllable or word in pronouncing or in accordance
with a metrical pattern.

A unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds and they can
influence the rhythm of a language, its prosody, its poetic meter, its stress

A symbol is a graphical, written, vocal or physical object which represents
another, usually more complex, physical or abstract object, or an object

The way in which linguistic elements (words and phrases) are arranged to
form grammatical structure.

The artistically satisfying equilibrium of opposing forces in a poem, usually
referring to the use of language and imagery, but often applied to other
elements, such as dramatic structure, rhythmic patterns, and sometimes to
the aesthetic value of the poem as a whole.

The central idea, topic, or didactic quality of a work.

The poet’s or persona’s attitude in style or expression toward the subject.
Tone can also refer to the overall mood of the poem itself, in the sense
of a pervading atmosphere intended to influence the readers’ emotional
response and foster expectations of the conclusion.


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