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The Index of
World-Class Poetry Terms

Poetry Terms That Start with the Letter A

Abecedarian - A type of form that forms an acrostic where the first letter of each line or stanza begins with a letter of the alphabet in succession.

Acatalectic - A complete line in meter or one that is not missing any feet or syllables.

Accent - One of several poetry terms that refers to the stresses given to syllables within a line of poetry. An accented syllable is one that is either naturally stressed or forced to stress and which causes a poem to have a certain rhythm.
Example: The word "poetry" has three syllables, one stressed and two unstressed. The accent naturally falls on the first syllable. However, given the right poem a forced accent could fall on the last syllable.

Acrostic - A poem where the letters of the first line spell a word.

Alexandrine - A line of poetry with 12 syllables. Alexandrines are not very common in contemporary poetry. The name more than likely is a reference to a medieval romance about Alexander the Great and which used a 12-syllable line throughout.

Alliteration - References one of the poetry terms that describes a type of rhyme. Alliteration relies on words that begin with the same, or similar, sound, as opposed to words that end with the same sound.
Example: To guard your palace of peace.

Allusion - A reference to a well-known person or event within the context of a work of literature.
Example:"Novalis said 'Character is Fate," from The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Amphibrachic Meter - A type of meter, most often used by classic poets, relying on three syllables per metric foot. The sequence is short, long, short.

Amphimacer Meter - Like amphibrachic meter, a metrical foot consisting of three syllables. The sequence is long, short, long.

Anachronism - A literary technique that places a person, place, or thing out of its historical setting and into one which it is not normally associated.
Example: - A telephone in the 18th century.

Anacrusis - An extra unstressed syllable at the beginning of a line that is not a part of the metrical pattern.

Analogy - One of several poetry terms that relies upon comparison. An analogy is a story or illustration that parallels the message its user wants to convey in terms that can be easily understood by anyone.

Anapest - A metrical foot consisting of three syllables. The first two syllables are unstressed and the last syllable carries the accent.
Example: "To the moon, Alice. To the moon!" The stressed syllable is "moon" in both cases, preceded by two unstressed syllables, "To the."

Anaphora - Repeating the same word or phrase at the beginnings of back to back clauses, lines, sentences, or stanzas.
Example:"Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? Have you reckon'd the earth much?
             Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
             Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?"
             - From "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman

Antibacchic - A three-syllable foot in meter consisting of two long and one short syllable.

Antithesis - A poetic term referring to the juxtaposition of words with opposite meanings.
Example: "To err is human; to forgive, divine” from An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope.

Apostrophe - Words spoken to an imaginary person, a real person not present to hear them or perhaps to an object or abstract idea. Shakespeare’s plays and poetry are full of apostrophes.

Ars Poetica - A type of poetry where the poem itself addresses the subject of writing poetry.
Example: Ars Poetica by Archibald McLeish.

Assonance - A type of alliteration in which the same vowel sound is repeated either at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of words.
Example: I've confused myself so simply I've complicated my song.

Aubade - A poem whose theme is the separation of lovers at dawn.
Example: The Sunne Rising by John Donne.

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