- IAMB (EYE-am) or IAMBUS, IAMBIC
- The most common metrical foot in English, German, and Russian verse, and
in many other languages as well; it consists of two
syllables, a short or unaccented
syllable followed by a long or accented syllable, as in
a-VOID or the RUSH, or from the opening line of John Keats'
"Ode to a Nightingale":
a DROW | -sy NUMB | -ness
Sidelight: The name of the
iambic foot derives from the Greek iambos, a genre of
invective poetry (now termed lampoon) with which
it was originally associated.
(See also Meter, Rhythm)
- The recurring stress or accent
in a rhythmic or metrical series of sounds; also, the
mark indicating the syllable on which such stress or accent occurs.
(See also Cadence,
- The artistic theory or practice that affirms the preeminent values of ideas and
imagination, as compared with the faithful portrayal of nature in
- IDENTICAL RHYME
- See under Perfect Rhyme
- A pastoral poem, usually brief,
stressing the picturesque aspects of country life,
or a longer
narrative poem generally descriptive of pastoral scenes and
written in a highly finished style, such as Milton's
Sidelight: Idyll is the
anglicized version of the Greek Eidillion.
Probably because the adjectival form
of the word "idyll," idyllic, is commonly used in the sense of tranquility, charm, innocence, and ideal virtues,
the term is applied to poetry with wide latitude, as in Tennyson's Idylls of the King.
(See also Arcadia,
- IMAGERY, IMAGE
- The elements in a literary work used to 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 is a variable term which can
apply to any and all components of a poem that evoke sensory experience and emotional response, whether figurative or
literal, and also applies to the concrete things so imaged.
Imaginative diction transfers the poet's impressions of
sight, sound, smell, taste and touch to the careful reader, as in "The
Chambered Nautilus," by Oliver Wendell Holmes, or
"The Cloud," by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Sidelight: In addition
to its more tangible initial impact, effective imagery has the potential to tap the inner wisdom of the reader to arouse
meditative and inspirational responses.
Sidelight: Related images are often clustered
or scattered throughout a work, thus serving to create a particular
tone. Images of disease, corruption, and death, for example, are
recurrent patterns shaping the tonality of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Imagery can also emphasize a
do the suggestions of dissolution, depression, and mortality in John Keats'
"Ode to a Nightingale."
(See also Ekphrasis, Figure of Speech,
- A 20th century movement in poetry advocating free verse,
new rhythmic effects,
colloquial language, and the expression of ideas and emotions, with clear,
well-defined images, rather than through romanticism or
(See also Avant-Garde)
(Compare Classicism, Idealism,
- See Mimesis
- IMPERFECT RHYME
- See Near Rhyme
- As applied to poetry, a late 19th century movement embracing
which sought to portray the effects (or poet's impressions), rather than
the objective characteristics of life and events.
- IMPROVISATORE (im-prah-vuh-zuh-TOR-ee)
- An improviser of verse, usually extemporaneously.
(Compare Jongleur, Minstrel,
- INCREMENTAL REPETITION
- The repetition in each stanza (of a
ballad, for example) of part of
the preceding stanza, usually with a slight change in wording for effect.
Refrain, Stornello Verses)
- INITIAL RHYME
- See Alliteration
- IN MEDIAS RES (in MEE-dee-uhs RAYZ)
- The literary device of beginning a narrative, such as an epic poem, at a crucial point in the middle of a
series of events. The intent is to create an immediate interest from which the author can then move
backward in time to narrate the story.
Sidelight: In contrast, ab ovo
(from the egg) refers to starting at the chronological beginning of a narrative.
- INTERIOR MONOLOGUE
- A narrative technique in which action and external events are conveyed
indirectly through a fictional character's extended mental soliloquy of thoughts and feelings.
Sidelight: Interior monologue and
"stream of consciousness" are often used interchangeably, but interior monologue may be limited
to an ordered presentation of rational thoughts, while stream of consciousness typically includes sensory,
associative, and subliminal impressions intermixed with rational thought.
(See also Dramatic Monologue)
- INTERLOCKING RHYME
- See Chain Rhyme
- INTERNAL RHYME
- Also called middle rhyme, a rhyme occurring within the line. The
rhyme may be with words within the line but not at the line end, or with a word within the line and a word at the end of the line,
as in Shelley's "The Cloud":
I bring fresh
for the thirsting flowers
(See also Leonine Verse)
- See Lampoon
- See Hyperbaton
- See under Apostrophe
- In classical poetry, a metrical foot of four syllables, either two long
syllables followed by two
short syllables (greater Ionic) or two short syllables followed by two
long syllables (lesser Ionic); also, a verse or meter composed of Ionic feet.
The exchange of place between short and long syllables in Ionic
rhythms is called anaclasis.
- Verbal irony is a figure of speech in the form of an expression in which
the use of words is the opposite of the thought in the speaker's mind, thus conveying a meaning that
contradicts the literal definition, as when a doctor might say to his patient, " the bad news is that the
operation was successful." Dramatic or situational irony is a literary or theatrical
device of having a character utter words which the reader or audience understands to
have a different meaning, but of which the character himself is unaware. Irony of fate
is when a situation occurs which is quite the reverse of what one might have expected, as in
Sidelight: The use of irony can be very effective, providing
it is reasonably obvious and not likely to be taken so literally that the reader is left with
the opposite of what was meant to convey. It should also be noted that irony, of itself,
is not bitter or cruel, but may become so when used as
a vehicle for satire or sarcasm.
(See also Antiphrasis)
- See under Stanza
- ITALIAN SONNET
- See Petrarchan Sonnet