There are many ways of creating effects in poetry. This is part of a poet’s style of writing. A poet plays with words to create images or particular sounds.
ALLITERATION - When two or more words, in close proximity, begin with the same letter or sound and affect the ear with an echoing sound. This can create a musical effect and can lend emphasis to what is being said.
Eg: To the tick of two clocks (Heaney)
Dapple-dawn-drawn falcon (Hopkins)
ALLUSION – An indirect reference to some well-known historical or contemporary figure or event. It is only effective when the reader is familiar with such a figure or event.
AMBIGUITY – Occurs when there is uncertainty about the meaning of words and expressions that can be understood or interpreted in more than one way. Although generally avoided in functional English, in poetry, the poet takes advantage of ambiguity to suggest more than one idea with the same word or phrase.
ANTITHESIS - When contrasting words are used to highlight difference.
Eg: Those who say the most often do the least. (Proverb)
ASSONANCE - When vowel sounds (i.e. a,e,i,o,u,(y)) are repeated in a sequence of sounds close to each other. This can create atmosphere or convey mood.
Eg: Low sounds by the shore (Yeats)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone (Auden)
ATMOSPHERE – The overall or prevailing mood which is evoked by a poem in generating feelings or emotions in the reader.
BLANK VERSE – Verse which is unrhymed but adheres to a regular metrical pattern, usually iambic pentameter where each line consists of ten syllables.
CADENCE – A regular or irregular rhythm in lines of verse that reflects the natural tone or modulation of voice.
Eg: It was raining
And it was going to rain. (Stevens)
CLICHÉ - Outworn or expressions that have become stale and tired from overuse. They should be avoided.
Eg: They ate us out of house and home.
When push comes to shove.
EPIGRAM - A snippet of wisdom. Epigrammatic style tends to be concise and laden with meaning (i.e. full of short, pithy statements). Emily Dickinson’s poetry is a good example of this.
EUPHEMISM - A polite, gentle, or comical way of expressing something which may be unpleasant to the listener.
Eg: Dying => passing away, kicking the bucket, etc.
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE - Language is described as figurative when metaphors, similes, or symbols are used.
Eg: Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference. (Frost)
FREE VERSE – A form or arrangement of verse that is very flexible and free from fixed patterns of meter and rhyme.
HYPERBOLE - Deliberate used of exaggeration for poetic effect and emphasis.
Eg: Ten thousand saw I at a glance (Wordsworth)
IMAGE - A mental picture illustrated through words.
Eg: The Black Lace Fan my Mother Gave me (Boland)
IRONY - A contrast between what words appear to mean (their literal meaning) and what they actually mean (their true meaning). Sarcasm is an example of irony.
DRAMATIC IRONY - A device used by playwrights to create comedy. It usually occurs when the audience is more aware of the events occurring on stage than a character in the play. Shakespeare frequently uses this device.
METAPHOR - This is an implied comparison between two things.
Eg: You’re an angel.
MOTIF – A central idea or distinctive feature in a piece of verse; it may also refer to a recurring theme in the work of a writer.
ONOMATOPOEIA - This is when the sound of the word suggests the sound of the action being described.
Eg: Buzz, squeal, click, howl, drip, cuckoo, bash, etc.
OXYMORON – Two words juxtaposed (i.e. placed side by side) that apparently contradict one other but in fact makes sense together as a phrase.
Eg: Cruel kindness / Slow fast
PARADOX -Similar to an oxymoron but is not contained within a single two-word phrase.
Eg: The child is the father of the man (Yeats)
PERSONIFICATION - When human features or qualities are projected on to inanimate objects.
Eg: How the sick leaves reel down in throngs! (Hardy)
PUN -A play on the double meaning of a word or phrase.
Eg: First come, first severed. (McGough)
RHETORICAL QUESTION - A question which implies the answer. It is used often in persuasive writing or to convey deep feeling.
Eg: Have you no pride?
RHYTHM / METRE – The flow or movement of words, phrases and sound within a line of poetry.
SIMILE – A direct comparison between two things using the words ‘like’,‘as’, or ‘than’.
Eg: The evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherised upon a table (Eliot)
THEME - The main or central idea within the work. The attitude of the speaker towards the subject matter.
TONE - The feelings expressed by the poet in the poem. The mood or atmosphere evoked by the poem.