Poetry Terms to Know: A Quick Refresher

Here&s a little reminder for parents who haven&t covered poetry for quite some time.
By Amy Mascott
Apr 04, 2016



Poetry Terms to Know: A Quick Refresher

Apr 04, 2016

April is Poetry Month!

All month long, people will be talking about poems and poetry, so you need to be in the know. We understand — it’s been a long, long time since you’ve heard these words, so we’re here to provide you with a refresher.

No need to memorize these crazy, poetry-related terms, friends. Just print and keep on hand as your kids tackle poetry in school this month.

Poetry Terms to Know:

Alliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds in words.
Example: She sells seashells down by the seashore.

Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds in words.
Example: The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains.

Blank Verse: Unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter (defined below).
-      /         -         /       -          /     -      /    -       /
"But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?"
-    /   -     /      -      /  -   /  -      /
"It is the east. And Juliet is the sun!"
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds.
Example: She gave the big dog a hug.

Couplet: A pair of lines in poetry of a similar length that rhyme.
"Tell me if you think you know
How to make a turtle go."
– Charles Ghinga, Turtle Trouble

Free Verse: A poem that does not have a regular rhythm or rhyme.

Haiku: A form of Japanese poetry that has three lines: the first line has five syllables, the second has seven syllables, and the third has five syllables.
"Behind me the moon
Brushes shadows of pine trees
Lightly on the floor." 
– Kikaku

Iambic Pentameter: A line of five “iambs” or “feet” in which an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable.
-       /      -     /     -       /         -    /      -     /
"So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
-       /      -     /     -       /         -    /      -     /
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee." 
– William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

Meter: The pattern of repeated stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.

Onomatopoeia: The use of a word that sounds like its meaning.
Examples: Bang! Boom! Wow! Hey! Ouch!

Prose: A form of language with no metrical or rhythmical structure. It is the natural flow of speech.

Rhyme: A similarity of sound in words.
Example: cat, bat; pot, hot; man, can; pet, let

Rhyme Scheme: The ordered pattern of rhyme at the end of a line of poetry.

Sonnet: A poem consisting of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter.  There are two types of sonnets: Italian and Shakespearean.  The Italian Sonnet consists of one octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines), usually rhyming abbaabba, cdecde.  The Shakespearean Sonnet consists of three quatrains (four lines each) and a final rhyming couplet (two lines); the rhyme scheme is usually abab, cdcd, efef, gg. (Ready to recite that one back?!)

Stanza: In poetry a stanza is a paragraph.
a couplet = two lines

a triplet = three lines
a quatrain = four lines
a quintet = five lines
a sestet = six lines
a septet = seven lines
an octave = eight lines

Verse: A metric line of poetry, or as a whole, ‘verse’ can refer to poetry itself.

How many of these poetry terms did you remember? What did we forget to add? Let us know on the on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find Amy on Twitter @teachmama, and let’s continue the conversation!

Read all posts by Amy Mascott.

Featured Photo Credit: marekuliasz/iStockphoto|


Check out bloggers Amy Mascott and Allie McDonald's book, Raising a Rock-Star Reader: 75 Quick Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Lifelong Love for Reading. Get expert advice and learn new strategies for your young readers.

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National Poetry Month