Literary Terms - I through Z

I-K

Iamb – a metrical unit of two syllables with the stress on the second syllable.

Iambic pentameter – a poetic meter consisting of five iambs of one short (unstressed) and one long (stressed) syllable. “To err is human, to forgive, divine”. This is a iambic pentameter.

Internal Rhyme – a word rhyming at the end of the line with a word in the middle of the line.

L-O

Limerick – A five-line poem in which the first two lines are anapestic trimester, the next two are dimeter, and the last line is trimester.

Literary Ballad> – Four rhyming lines, abcb, with 1 and 3 having eight syllables and lines 2 and 4 having six syllables.

Metaphor – the use of language which is imaginatively but not literally appropriate. The representation of a thing by another thing which resembles it. Comparison of two unlike items.

Motif – an object, concept, or structure repeated throughout a work, there by giving it symbolic meaning.

Neo-classical – A style of prose or poetry from the 17th and 18th centuries that revives the style of the classical Greek and Roman cultures.

Octave – Poetic verse of eight lines of iambic pentameter.

Ode – Lyrical verse with a serious topic and tone.

Open form – Poetry that does not follow strict rules. Freedom in form.

P-Q

Paradox – a statement that appears contradictory or absurd but in truth is accurate.

Pathetic Fallacy – the assigning of human emotions to natural objects.

Personification – A figure of speech where human characteristics are given to inanimate objects or animals.

Point of View – The perspective by which the author is telling the story.

Prose – Written narratives that follow natural speaking patterns. The most common form of narratives.

Protagonist – The lead character in a given work. From ‘agon’ – to struggle.

Quatrain – Four lines of verse in a poem.

R

S

Setting – The time and place of a story. The circumstances by which a story takes place.

Simile – figure of speech comparing two unlike items.

Sonnet – a poem of fourteen lines, the classical of which forms in two sections: an eight line octave coupled with a six line sestet.

T

Tetrameter – a line of four units.

Tone – the sound, pitch, pace and intensity of a poem considered as expressing a particular emotion.

Trimeter – a line of three feet.

Trochee – a metrical unit with one stressed (long) and one unstressed (short) syllable.

U-Z

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