Poetry glossary

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Poetry Glossary

Metaphor: A metaphor is a comparison between two objects or ideas. It is also defined as a direct comparison. The word like or as is not used e.g. instead of saying: "The man is as big as a house" you say: "The man is a house".
Simile:  A simile is a comparison beween two objects or idea, in which the words 'like' or 'as' is used. For example: The girl is like a rose.
Personification: When an object is described as a living person or animal. "The sun shone brightly down on me as if she were shining for me alone". In this example the sun is depicted as if capable of intent, and is referenced with the pronoun "she" rather than "it".
Metonymy:  A thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept. For instance, "London," as the capital of the United Kingdom, could be used as a metonym for its government.
Onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia is used to describe words that look like the sound they are describing. For example, when you rattle a jar of dry beans ... the word 'rattle' describes the sound, and it makes the sound when you say the word. Similarly, a balloon will pop ... the word 'pop' makes the sound the balloon does.
Symbol: A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP".
Pun: The humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words. For example: To write with a broken pencil is pointless. The word 'pointless' refers to the tip of the pencil that is broken, and the fact that it is useless to write a pencil that doesn't have a tip.
Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a rhetorical device in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally, e.g. These books weigh a ton.
Contrast: The distinction or emphasis of difference by comparison of opposite or dissimilar things, qualities, etc., e.g. 'red berries standing in vivid contrast against the snow'.
Sarcasm: Sarcasm is a characterization of something or someone in order to express contempt, e.g. I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
Caricature: a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others
Irony: Irony is when what we say or write conveys the opposite of its literal meaning. For example, "Mother will be happy to hear what you have done now," when Mother will not be at all happy. The three types of irony are: verbal irony, dramatic irony, and situational irony. Verbal irony: refers to the irony of what is said and what is meant. Dramatic irony refers to the irony between what the characters are saying, doing, and thinking, and what the audience knows. Situational irony refers to the irony of what is expected and what actually happens.
Satire: Satire is a style of writing or art that uses humor or sarcasm to criticize or ridicule it's subject. A good example of satire is George Orwell's Animal Farm. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, the purpose of satire is not primarily humour in itself so much as an attack on something of which the author strongly disapproves.
Paradox: A statement that seems contradictory or absurd but is actually valid or true. For example: we must sometimes be cruel in order to be kind.
Antithesis: The juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases or clauses, for example "Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee."
Anticlimax: An sudden change from a serious tone to a less serious one - often for comic effect, for example: "The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money." (Mark Twain)
Oxymoron: A figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear side by side; a compressed paradox, e.g. "That building is a little bit big and pretty ugly." (James Thurber)