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The repetition of initial stressed, consonant sounds in a series of words within a phrase or verse line. Alliteration need not reuse all initial consonants; “pizza” and “place” alliterate.


A brief, intentional reference to a historical, mythic, or literary person, place, event, or movement.



A pithy, instructive statement or truism, like a maxim or adage.

Ars Poetica

A term meaning “the art of poetry,” an ars poetica poem expresses that poet's aims for poetry and/or that poet's theories about poetry.


The repetition of vowel sounds without repeating consonants; sometimes called vowel rhyme.


A love poem or song welcoming or lamenting the arrival of the dawn.


A popular narrative song passed down orally. In the English tradition, it usually follows a form of rhymed (ABCB) quatrains alternating four-stress and three-stress lines. Folk (or traditional) ballads are anonymous and recount tragic, comic, or heroic

Blank Verse

Unrhyming iambic pentameter, also called heroic verse.

Common Measure

A quatrain that rhymes ABAB and alternates four-stress and three-stress iambic lines. It is the meter of the hymn and the ballad.

Concrete or Pattern Poetry

Verse that emphasizes nonlinguistic elements in its meaning, such as a typeface that creates a visual image of the topic



A resemblance in sound between two words, or an initial rhyme.


A pair of successive rhyming lines, usually of the same length.

Dramatic Monologue

A poem in which an imagined speaker addresses a silent listener, usually not the reader.


“Description” in Greek. An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art.


In traditional English poetry, it is often a melancholy poem that laments its subject's death but ends in consolation.



A pithy, often witty, poem.



A letter in verse, usually addressed to a person close to the writer.

Free Verse

Nonmetrical, nonrhyming lines that closely follow the natural rhythms of speech. A regular pattern of sound or rhythm may emerge in free-verse lines, but the poet does not adhere to a metrical plan in their composition.

(to crave what the light does crave) [if mama / could see] from Stanzas in Meditation: Stanza 83 300 Goats A Kind of Meadow A Small Moment Always Something More Beautiful Angels Ars Poetica Australasian Darters Banneker Big City Speech Bright Copper Kettles Cadillac Moon Carousel Christmas, 1970 Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15) Cow Song Dead Butterfly Diameter Driving toward the Lac Qui Parle River Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest El Olvido every single day Ex Machina Famous Flying Lesson For the Climbers Fundamentalism Girl Sleuth Glitch Gravelly Run Happy Hour Harold’s Chicken Shack #86 High Noon at Los Alamos Hunger for Something I Genitori Perduti I, Too In In Little Rock In Memory of Joe Brainard Inside Out Istanbul 1983 Key to the Dollar Store Kites Late Summer Le Maudit Leda Little Father Magnitudes Mechanism Medusa Midnight Office Momma Said Mothers mulberry fields Negative Nocturne Now I Pray Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow Onions Over and Under Perhaps the World Ends Here Pilgrims Planetarium Poem for Haruko Prisoners Queen-Anne’s Lace Rain of Statues Remarks on Poetry and the Physical World Rock Me, Mercy Saguaros Say Grace Seen Through a Window Semblance: Screens Sharks' Teeth Sign for My Father, Who Stressed the Bunt So This Is Nebraska Song of Weights and Measurements Stone Canyon Nocturne Surfaces The Angelfish Greet Odysseus The Bad Old Days The Blue Booby The Campus on the Hill The Film The Gift The Good in the Evil World The Lamb The Moonlight The Old Liberators The Rain The Robots are Coming The Truly Great Their Story They are hostile nations To Elsie To the Harbormaster Torque Truth Serum Two Guitars Undress Virtuosi Waking from Sleep Where the Wild Things Go Xenophobia Zacuanpapalotls 
[Buffalo Bill 's] [in Just-] The Songs of Maximus: SONG 1 A Blessing A Noiseless Patient Spider Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation American Smooth Apollo At Noon Author’s Prayer Barber Black Boys Play the Classics bug’s psalm Camouflaging the Chimera Cathedral of Salt Clear Night Corn Maze Coyote, with Mange Dead Reckoning III Dream Song 14 Dyed Carnations Earth, You Have Returned to Me End of Days Advice from an Ex-zombie Everybody Believes They Are the Good Guy Fairy-tale Logic First Storm and Thereafter For a Traveler Frieze Future Memories Gitanjali 35 Good People gravity furnace Harina de Castilla Helen Himself Hush I Hear America Singing If They Should Come for Us In a Dark Room In Love, His Grammar Grew In the Basement of the Goodwill Store Interlude It Isn’t Me Kindness Last Snow Layabout Learning to swim Lenten Song Lunar Baedeker Make a Law So That the Spine Remembers Wings Meditation at Lagunitas Memory As a Hearing Aid Mighty Pawns Monstrance Man Movement Song My Brother the Artist, at Seven Night Nurse Not Guilty Ode to the Hotel Near the Children's Hospital On the Existence of the Soul Oranges Passing Photo of a Girl on a Beach Pinocchio Pleasures Possible Answers to Prayer Propositions Queens Cemetery, Setting Sun Reflections on History in Missouri Respiration Rocket Saint Francis and the Sow Scale Self-Inquiry before the Job Interview Semi-Splendid Sheltered Garden Snake Oil, Snake Bite Somewhere Speak Sunshower Susie Asado The animals in that country The Bear The Bookshelf of the God of Infinite Space The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee The Forecast The Goddess Who Created This Passing World The Greatest Grandeur The Luggage The Negro Speaks of Rivers The Oldest Living Thing in L.A. The River of Bees The Strength of Fields The Well Rising Then and Now Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird To Live with a Landscape to the notebook kid Totem Pole Turning the Tables Ultima Thule Vagrants and Loiterers Vision in Which the Final Blackbird Disappears Watching the Perseids Who Said It Was Simple Y2K
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] "oh antic God" The Songs of Maximus: SONG 2 A Blind Fisherman A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts Advection Blues And Soul Arrhythmia At the New Year Backdrop addresses cowboy Beginning Break of Day in the Trenches Burning the Old Year Carnival Chickamauga Cloud Fishing Courtesy Danse Russe Deaf-Mute in the Pear Tree Dressing My Daughters Early Elegy: Headmistress Eating Together Eve Revisited Evolution of My Block Falling: The Code Flies Buzzing For Love From Blossoms Ghost Dance Glass Grandfather Greed Harold & the Purple Crayon Here Is an Ear Hear Holding Court I Eat Breakfast to Begin the Day I Know, I Remember, But How Can I Help You Ikebana In California: Morning, Evening, Late January In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr. In the Desert Intimate Detail Katrina Kitchen Fable Late Echo Lazy Least Concern Lions Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota Maui’s Mission Meditation on a Grapefruit Mi Historia Mockingbird Moon Mr. Darcy My Voice Nocturne Not Horses Ode to the Midwest On the Lawn at the Villa Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark Past-Lives Therapy Pietà Piute Creek Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars) Prayer Rug Psalm Rabbits and Fire Refusing Silence Retired Ballerinas, Central Park West Saguaro Sanctuary Sea Church Self-Portrait September, 1918 Siblings Snowy Owl Near Ocean Shores Somewhere Thuban Is Fading Squirrels Superfluities That Country The Appalachian Book of the Dead The Bloody Sire The Calm The Enigma The Garden The Golden Shovel The Hill The Minks The Night of the Shirts The Poet The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter The True-Blue American The Wheel Revolves There Are Birds Here Through a Glass Eye, Lightly To Myself Today Toy Boat Twilight Under the Lemon Tree Very Large Moth Waiheke What pleasure a question, Windigo Youth


(Pronounciation: “guzzle”) Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme.


A Japanese verse form of three unrhyming lines in five, seven, and five syllables.


These poems are largely concerned with the use of strong and evocative images to create a highly visual, imaginative reading experience.


An early 20th-century poetic movement that relied on the resonance of concrete images drawn in precise, colloquial language rather than traditional poetic diction and meter.


A comparison that is made without pointing out a similarity by using words such as “like,” “as,” or “than.”



A formal, often ceremonious lyric poem that addresses and often celebrates a person, place, thing, or idea. Its stanza forms vary.



Poets writing in English drew on the pastoral tradition by retreating from the trappings of modernity to the imagined virtues and romance of rural life. Its themes persist in poems that romanticize rural life or reappraise the natural world.


A dramatic character, distinguished from the poet, who is the speaker of a poem.

Prose Poem

A prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry.



A phrase or line repeated at intervals within a poem, especially at the end of a stanza.

Rhymed Stanza

The repetition of syllables, typically at the end of a verse line.




A comparison (see Metaphor) made with “as,” “like,” or “than.”


A 14-line poem with a variable rhyme scheme. Literally a “little song,” the sonnet traditionally reflects upon a single sentiment, with a clarification or “turn” of thought in its concluding lines.


Poetry whose meter is determined by the total number of syllables per line, rather than the number of stresses.


Terza Rima


A French verse form consisting of five three-line stanzas and a final quatrain, with the first and third lines of the first stanza repeating alternately in the following stanzas.