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The Index of
World-Class Poetry Terms

Poetry Terms That Start with the Letter S


Scansion - The process of analyzing poetic meter. Done by counting the number of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line and dividing it into feet.

Senryu - A Japanese form similar to the haiku but, instead of nature, takes a satiric or humorous look at human beings.

Simile - A comparison between two unlike objects or ideas using “like” or “as.” Similes and metaphors are twin poetry terms just as oranges and apples are twin fruit - alike, only different.
Example: ”Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” Muhammad Ali, professional boxer.

Sonnet - A lyric poem consisting of 14 lines following a pattern introduced by either Italian poets of the 12th century or English poets of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Italian Sonnets, or Petrarchan Sonnets, are made up of two quatrains and a six-line sestet, follow the rhyme scheme abba abba cdecde (or cdcdcd, or ccedde, or cdecde) and use Alexandrines in meter.

English Sonnets, styled as either Shakespearean or Spenserian after their primary users, were composed of three quatrains and a couplet, written in iambic pentameter and followed these primary rhyme schemes: abab cdcd efef gg (Shakespearean) or abab bcbc cdcd ee (Spenserian).

Spondee - A metrical foot of two stressed syllables.

Stanza - Two or more lines of poetry that compose one unit of a poem. Each stanza typically is styled in the same or similar meter and rhyme.

Stress - The emphasis given to certain syllables because of their placement in the line or the vowel and consonant structure of the word or syllable itself.

Some syllables are naturally stressed while others are not. Punctuation may play a part in forcing a syllable that would otherwise be unstressed to carry a stress.

Synecdoche - A figure of speech in which one part of something is used to signify the whole thing or vice versa.
Example: ”Man, those are some hot wheels!” where “wheels” means “automobile” and not just the wheels; or, “New York beat Boston in the World Series” really means the baseball team defeated the team that represents Boston.

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