Poetry And Figures Of Speech In Literature [JAMB Literature Revision Continued]



Poems are feelings expressed in (imaginative) language and in deep thought. It is literature in verse with great beauty, emotional sincerity or intensity, or profound insight. It is also the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions and feelings with the use of certain devices such as figures of speech, rhythm, rhyme, metre, all in a peculiar style. However, poetry is an art of writing and collection of poems. The language deployed in poetry is more deep and richer than those of drama and prose.

A writer of dull unimportant poems is called a Poetaster. The person writing a poem is a Poet while his female counterpart is a Poetess.
A situation of perfect justice wherein wrong doers are punished in a suitable and right manner is called Poetic Justice. A Poet Laureate is a poet appointed to the British royal court, who writes poems on important or state occasions.Poetic License is the privilege of a writer to take liberties with grammatical rules and structure for desired poetic effects.

Kinds Of Poems

Epic: This is a long and elaborate narrative poem that celebrates real historical events, heroic figures and achievements.

Ballad: This poem is a traditional narrative song. It is a poem passed from one generation to another by word of mouth and meant to be sung and danced to before a crowd. A ballad is written in short stanza, often with a refrain and formed by ordinary people. This type of poem narrates the story of unfulfilled love and belated expectations, historic battles, death of a loved one and the story of supernatural beings.

Lyric: This is a short rhythmic poem expressing the poet’s thought and strong personal emotions like love, which is usually very light-hearted. A lyric is meant to be sung to the accompaniment of the Greek musical instrument lyre.

Ode: An Ode is an ancient Greek form of poetry. It is a meditative poem which addresses itself to a person or thing in which the good qualities of such a person or object are highlighted and commended.

Lullaby: This is a soft sonorous song meant to soothe a child to sleep.

Narrative Poem: Narrative is taken from the verb, “narrate”, meaning to tell a story. In other words, a narrative poem is a poem that tells a story or gives an account of something.

Didactic Poem: A didactic poem teaches a moral or spiritual lesson.

Rustic/ Pastoral Poem: This poem depicts countryside or the rural life of a people, especially of shepherds, around whom beauty, love, music, values which remain forever green in the mind.

Epitaph: An epitaph is an inscription in form of a short speech in memory of a dead person normally placed on the person’s tomb to celebrate the life he/she lived on earth.

Limerick: It is a light and humorous short poem of five lines with the rhyme scheme aabba. It is also referred to as nonsense verse because of its preoccupation with rude words and indecent humour. This poem was introduced by a popular writer and poet, Edward Lear.

Panegyric: A panegyric is a poem of praise. It is a poem meant to eulogise the heroic deeds or attributes of an individual or a group.

Idyll: It is a short poem that depicts simple pastoral or rural scenes and the life of country folk, often in an idealised way.

Elegy: It is a poem that laments the death of a person, or one that is simply sad and thoughtful.

Dirge: It is also a poem of lamentation used to express grief on the occasion of someone’s death. Elegy is written while a dirge is meant to be sung.

Prose Poem:It is an admixture of prose and poetry.

Cento: It is a composition or compilation of different poems from different authors so as to make a new poetic form and meaning.

Romantic poem: This is a poem that appreciates the beauty of nature. This type of poem stemmed from the principles and ideals of the Romantic Movement in literature and the arts during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Romantics are the nature-oriented school of poetry.

Metaphysical poem: It deals with love and religion.

Prothalamion: This poem celebrates an impending marriage.

Epithalamion: This is a poem in celebration of marriage.

Sonnet: This is a lyrical poem which is of fourteen lines with a rhyme scheme. The poem is usually arranged in special form, which clearly distinguishes it from others, that is, it has a special fixed pattern of rhyme. There are three types of sonnet.
a. Italian sonnet: This sonnet is divided into two main parts. These are: Octave, a poem of eight lines with the rhyme scheme ABBA ABBA and a Sestet, a poem of six lines with the rhyme scheme CDECDE.
b. English or Shakespearean sonnet:This is a sonnet popularised by William Shakespeare. It is divided into two parts of three quatrains and a heroic couplet rhyming ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.
c. Miltonic sonnet:John Milton is one of the greatest poets of his time. He is noted for the use of sonnets that differs from both the English and the Italian sonnets and the poem may be divided into many parts of ABC CDD ABC CDEFD.

Features of Poems

Refrain: It refers to a word, phrase or any expression that is repeated at regular intervals in a poem, often after a group of lines.

Speaker: It is the voice speaking in the poem, which may not be that of the poet.

Enjambment: Also known as ‘run-on’, it is the continuation of a complete idea (a sentence or clause) from one line or couplet of a poem to the next line or couplet without a pause.

Rhyme: The occurrence of the same or similar sounds at the end of two or more words in a poem.

Rhyme Scheme: This refers to the sequence in which rhyme occurs at the end of a poem

Rhythm: It is the measured flow of words and phrases in poetry. It can also described as the movement of thought to facilitate mood and meaning in poetry.

Meter: It is the formal sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry. It is the meter that determines the rhyme of a poem.

Stanza:This is a group of lines or collection of verses to form a division or section of a poem. It can be described as the equivalent of a paragraph in prose writing.

Atmosphere: This refers to the pervading psychology background of a literary work. The atmosphere of a poem may be tense or relaxed, ominous or gay and so on.

Diction: This is the poet’s choice of words. The diction dictates the tone, mood, symbolism and imagery of a poem.

Verse: It is a single metrical line of poetry, or poetry in general (as opposed to prose).

Blank verse/ Free verse: This refers to a poem whose lines do not rhyme. It may have rhythm, yet lack a regular rhyme scheme.

Accent: It is the prominence or emphasis given to a syllable or word. In the word poetry, the accent (or stress) falls on the first syllable.

Caesura: It is a natural pause or break in a line of poetry, usually near the middle of the line.

Conceit:It’s a fanciful poetic image or metaphor that likens one thing to something else that is seemingly very different. An example of a conceit can be found in John Donne’s The Sun Rising.

Foot: It is the two or more syllables that together make up the smallest unit of rhythm in a poem.
Heroic Couplet: A stanza composed of two rhymed lines in iambic pentameter.

Iamb: A metrical foot of two syllables, one short (or unstressed) and one long (or stressed).

Iambic Pentameter: A type of meter in poetry, in which there are five iambs to a line. (The prefix pentameans "five," as in pentagon, a geometrical figure with five sides. Meter refers to rhythmic units. In a line of iambic pentameter, there are five rhythmic units that are iambs.) Shakespeare's plays were written mostly in iambic pentameter, which is the most common type of meter in English poetry.

Pentameter: A line of poetry that has five metrical feet.

Stress: The prominence or emphasis given to particular syllables. Stressed syllables usually stand out because they have long, rather than short, vowels, or because they have a different pitch or are louder than other syllables.

Imagery: The use of vivid language to generate ideas and/or evoke mental images, not only of the visual sense, but of sensation and emotion as well. While most commonly used in reference to figurative language, imagery can apply to any component of a poem that evoke sensory experience and emotional response, and also applies to the concrete things so brought to mind.

Poetry works it magic by the way it uses words to evoke “images” that carry depths of meaning.
The poet’s carefully described impressions of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch can be transferred to the thoughtful reader through imaginative use and combinations of diction.

Tone/ Mood: They are the means by which a poet reveals attitudes and feelings, in the style of language or expression of thought used to develop the subject. Certain tones include not only irony and satire, but may be loving, condescending, bitter, pitying, fanciful, solemn, and a host of other emotions and attitudes.

Tone can also refer to the overall mood of the poem itself, in the sense of a pervading atmosphere intended to influence the readers’ emotional response and foster expectations of the conclusion.

Another use of tone is in reference to pitch or to the demeanor of a speaker as interpreted through inflections of the voice; in poetry, this is conveyed through the use of connotation, diction, figures of speech, rhythm and other elements of poetic construction.

Various forms of lines in poetry

  • Villanelle: A poem of two rhymes in five tercets and a quatrain.
  • Distich: A verse arranged in a couplet but makes a complete sense.
  • Monometer: One line of a poem
  • Couplet: Two lines of poem.
  • Tercet: Three lines of poem.
  • Quatrain: Four lines of poem
  • Quintet: Five lines of poem
  • Sextet: Six lines of poem.
  • Septet: Seven lines of poem.
  • Octave: Eight lines of poem.
  • Dioxin: Ten lines of poem.
  • Dochnius:A foot of five syllables with first to fourth, shorter than the fifth.
  • Dactyl: A finger, like feet of three syllables.
  • Spontee: A foot of two long syllables.
  • Long Measure: A quatrain of eight lines syllables.
  • Epitrite: A feet of three long syllables and one short syllable.
  • Fifteener: A verse of fifteen syllables.
  • Bacchius: A foot of two long syllables followed by one short syllable.

Literary Devices

Allegory: It is an attempt through which abstract or symbol is used to portray evils and ills common in our society. In an allegorical narrative, the author generally uses symbolic objects in order to vividly portray abstract ideas or events that are not directly mentioned in the text.
Allusion: It is a direct or indirect reference made to other pieces of art, events, literary work, places, people or myths to enrich the content of the immediate text.
Stream of consciousness: This is a definite line of thoughts, emotions and feelings, which focus on the writer’s mind. It is a narrative method that produces a character’s random thought and association, which makes the readers to appreciate the work better, based on the writer’s impressions as amplified in the text.
Fatalism: This is a belief that events are decided by fate. In fatalism, people accept all that happen to them as inevitable or predestined. It is a philosophical doctrine that what will be, will be.
Aesthetics: It is the study or appreciation of beauty in a work of literature.

Antonomasia: This refers to the use of a person’s name of honour as his real name.
Archaic expression: These are old fashioned speech or writing. They are still used in poetry. Such expressions occur in many forms as ‘thou’, ‘thee’, ‘ye’, ‘thine’ etc. These kinds of dictions are very popular the works of Shakespeare, John Donne and the likes.
Cliché: A word or expression which has lost its vitality and to some extent its original meaning.
Parody: This is the indirect imitation of another popular writer with the primary aim of mocking him.
Burlesque: This is a story, essay, or play that treats a serious subject as if it were not serious and treated an unserious one as if it were serious. The aim is to imitate the real issue and make fun of it.

Complex plot: This is also known as Double Plot. This is a story in which there are two plots in one, one plot subordinate to the other.
Premiere: The first performance or showing of a new play. It is the maiden edition of any work of creativity. It is also the first public performance.
Satire:It is the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticise the ills of the society,human flaws, ideas, social customs, or institutions with the aim of correcting them.

Foyer: A large room created for the audience in a theatre.
Epithet: This is a descriptive remark or phrase used to rebuke somebody.
Eulogy: It is a piece of writing praising a person or thing.
Lampoon: Quite synonymous to satire, it is a piece of writing or remark that attacks or makes fun of a person in an insulting way.
Anthology: It’s a collection of poetry or verse.
Dilemma: It is a situation whereby a character, usually a hero is faced or confronted with two conflicting dangerous situations, between which he has to make an inevitable choice.
Jeremaid: The word is coined from Jeremiah. It is a lamentation over a bad situation.
Pathetic Fallacy: This is the attributing of human psychological traits, characteristics and qualities to nature.
Catastrophe: It is usually the climax of a tragic play or narrative. It usually ends on a melancholic note. In this regard, the conflict is resolved in favour of the antagonist.
Reverie: It is a mental state in which one finds oneself when one has lost consciousness of immediate surroundings or environment.
Verisimilitude: This is something that has the appearance of truth or close to reality or truth.
Synopsis: This is a summary of a literary work.
Juxtaposition: This is the placing of a thing side by side with another thing, to check for difference or similarities between them.
Nemesis: it is a re-bounce of an evil deed committed by a particular character mainly exemplified by highly placed characters in a tragedy. Nemesis is a mythical Greek goddess of retributive justice that apportions what is due to a character according to his deeds.
Aesthetic distance: This is when a writer makes his story so objective that the emotions expressed cannot be directly linked to his person.
Malapropism: This is the misapplication, but not mispronunciation of words.
Tautology: This is an unnecessary repetition of something or same idea in different words.
Ballet: It is a form of dance that tells a story as the dancing is on.
Epiphany: It is a literary work or poem on the appearance or manifestation of a thing especially a deity.
Bard: A poet whose work has won a competition or who is regarded by a country as its national poet.
Oedipus complex: It’s a strong feeling or ego where a person attaches himself strongly to one person but develops hatred, fear, and hostility for the other or towards another person, who also exhibits similarities with him.
Proverb: It is a popular but short saying containing wisdom and warning.
Anecdote: It is an amusing short but interesting account of a particular event.
Epigram: It’s a short witty saying.
Sarcasm: It’s a bitter remark intended to wound someone’s feelings.
Symbolism:It is the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. This literary device involves using a person, object, or action to stand for something else—often an abstract idea.
In Media Res:A Latin expression that means that the story actually starts in the middle of the action.
Invective: It is a harsh or abusive language.
Black Humour:Grotesque or morbid humour which is used to express the absurdity, cruelty, and insensitivity of the modern world. Ordinary characters or situations are exaggerated far beyond the limits of normal satire or irony. Black humour uses devices often associated with tragedy and it is sometimes equated with tragic farce.
Aphorism:It is a short, wise saying that portrays a general truth or idea held by many people. For example, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”
Rhetorical question: It is a question posed to provoke thought rather than to generate an answer. This type of question may have an implied or obvious answer that the audience already knows.
Apostrophe:It is a form of direct address spoken by a character to an inanimate object or a person as if they are present.
Motif: It’s a recurring important idea or image in a literary work. A motif is different from a theme.
Narrator: It is the person or character who actually tells the story, filling in the background information and bridging the gaps between dialogues.
Moral: It is the lesson a story teaches.
Innuendo:It is an act of passing an unpleasant remark without saying it directly. 
See Other Examples Here.
Poetry And Figures Of Speech In Literature [JAMB Literature Revision Continued] Poetry And Figures Of Speech In Literature [JAMB Literature Revision Continued] Reviewed by EMMANUEL CHINEKS on April 01, 2017 Rating: 5

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