- SAPPHIC VERSE
- After the odes of the Greek lyric poet, Sappho, a
poem with lines of eleven syllables in five feet, of which the first, fourth and fifth feet are
the second a spondee, and the third a
The Sapphic strophe consists of
three Sapphic lines followed by an Adonic.
Sidelight: For an example of Sapphic
verse in English poetry, see Isaac
Watts' "The Day of Judgment."
Ode, Pindaric Verse)
- A literary work which exposes and ridicules human vices or folly. Historically perceived as
tending toward didacticism, it is usually intended as a moral criticism
directed against the injustice or social wrongs. It
may be written with witty jocularity or with anger and bitterness.
Sidelight: Satiric poets often utilize
irony, hyperbole, understatement,
and paradox, as in Pope's
An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot .
Sidelight: Satire is direct when the
author is clearly expressing his own opinion, as in Pope's example above, and indirect when embodied in a
hypocritical character such as the Pardoner in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.
(See also Burlesque,
Goliardic Poetry, Hudibrastic Verse,
Lampoon, Mock Epic,
- To mark off lines of poetry into rhythmic units, or feet, to provide a visual representation of
their metrical structure, as illustrated with the following lines from
"Verses Supposed to be Written by Alexander Selkirk," by
(written in anapestic trimeter):
I am mon | arch of all | I survey,
(See also Dipodic Verse, Meter,
My right | there is none | to dispute;
From the cen | ter all round | to the sea
I am lord | of the fowl | and the brute.
- The analysis and graphic display of a line's
rhythm performed by scanning the line to
determine its metrical categorization, e.g., iambic
trimeter, trochaic octameter, etc.,
as a way of describing the rhythmical pattern of a poem.
Scansion will also show the variations in the meter and the deviations from it, if there are any.
Sidelight: Scansion accounts for syllabic
accents and slacks, but does not always differentiate between the relative
"weights" of stress, one of the means by which a skillful poet
modulates the rhythm for effect.
Sidelight: The scanning process employs
symbols on and above the lines to identify the foot divisions, their arsis and
thesis, and any internal caesuras the line may contain. Unfortunately,
the symbols for the arsis and thesis cannot be shown in this example:
One shade / the more, || one ray / the less,
Had half / impair'd / the name / less grace
Sidelight: By definition, scansion entails the
scanning of one line at a time. Roving over, a term suggested for the scanning of Hopkins'
sprung rhythm, is a process in which scansion is continued from one line to the next
Sidelight: Individual judgments often play a part
in the scansion process, since the divisions between feet may be subject to
differences of interpretation.
- An Old English poet or a poet troubadour of early Teutonic poetry.
(See also Gleeman)
- SENRYU (SEN-ree-yoo)
- A 3-line unrhymed Japanese poetic form structurally similar to the
haiku, but dealing with human
rather than physical nature, usually
in an ironic or satiric vein.
- SENSE PAUSE
- See Caesura
- SEPTENARIUS (sep-tuh-NAR-ee-us)
- A verse consisting of seven feet.
(See also Fourteener,
- A stanza of seven lines.
(See also Rhyme Royal)
- A lover's song or poem of the evening.
- SERPENTINE VERSES
- Verses ending with the same word with which they begin.
Sidelight: The term alludes
to the old representation of snakes with their
(Compare Abecedarian Poem,
tails in their mouths, which was symbolic of eternity, without beginning or end.
- A term used for the last six lines of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet
to distinguish them from the preceding octave, or any six-line group that has reason to
be similarly distinguished from its setting.
- A fixed form consisting of six 6-line (usually unrhymed) stanzas in
which the end words of the first stanza recur as end words of the
following five stanzas in a successively rotating order and as the middle
and end words of each of the lines of a concluding envoi
in the form of a tercet.
The usual ending word order for a sestina is as follows:
First stanza, 1- 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
The poem, "Will's Place," is an example of a sestina.
Second stanza, 6 - 1 - 5 - 2 - 4 - 3
Third stanza, 3 - 6 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 5
Fourth stanza, 5 - 3 - 2 - 6 - 1 - 4
Fifth stanza, 4 - 5 - 1 - 3 - 6 - 2
Sixth stanza, 2 - 4 - 6 - 5 - 3 - 1
middle of first line - 2, end of first line - 5
middle of second line - 4, end of second line - 3
middle if third line - 6, end of third line - 1
- A stanza of six lines, as in some fixed forms
such as a sestina, or in Wordsworth's
"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud".
- SHAPED VERSE
- See Pattern Poetry
- SIGHT RHYME
- Words which are similar in spelling but different in pronunciation,
like mow and how or height and
weight. Some words that are sight rhymes today did have a correspondence of sound
in earlier stages of the language.
Sidelight: Since the definition of an exact rhyme
requires identity of sound, sight rhyme is so named only in the broader sense of the word.
Sidelight: Sight rhymes
may occasionally be used for their contribution to the
visual aspect of poetry.
- The intentional repetition of words with sibilant speech sounds closely spaced in a line of poetry,
by the sea shore
- A short Korean poetic form consisting of three lines, each line having a total of
fourteen to sixteen syllables in four groups ranging from two to seven (but usually three or four) syllables, with a natural pause
at the end of the second group and a major pause after the fourth group. The third line
often introduces a resolution, a touch of humor, or a turn of thought. Though there are no
restrictions on the subject matter, favored ones include nature, virtue and rural life. The
unique texture of the sijo derives from the blend of sound, rhythm and meaning. Western
sijos are sometimes divided at the pauses and presented in six lines.
- A figure of speech in which an explicit comparison is made
between two essentially unlike things, usually using
like, as or than, as in Burns' "O, my luve's like
A Red, Red Rose"
or Shelley's "as still as a brooding dove," in "The Cloud."
Sidelight: Similes in which
the parallel is developed and extended beyond the initial comparison, often being sustained
through several lines, are called epic or Homeric similes, since they occur frequently in
both for ornamentation and to heighten the heroic aspect.
- An ancient Scandinavian poet or bard.
(See also Edda,
- Named for their inventor,
John Skelton, short verses of irregular
meter with two or three stresses, sometimes in
falling and sometimes in rising rhythm and usually with
- A syllable which is not accented.
- SLANT RHYME
- See Near Rhyme
- SOCIETY VERSE
- A short lyrical poem written in an urbane manner, or crisp, animated and
typically ironic light verse dealing with contemporaneous topics.
Sidelight: This term
is often used in its French language form, vers de societe.
(Compare Canzone, Ghazal,
Melic Verse, Ode,
- SOLECISM (SAH-luh-sizm)
- An impropriety of speech or a violation of the established rules of syntax.
(Contrast King's English)
- A talking to oneself; the discourse of a person speaking to himself, whether alone
or in the presence of others. It gives the illusion of being unspoken reflections.
(See also Dramatic Monologue,
- A fixed form consisting of fourteen lines of 5-foot
iambic verse. In the English or Shakespearean
sonnet, the lines are grouped in three
quatrains (with six alternating rhymes) followed by a detached rhymed
couplet which is usually epigrammatic.
In the original Italian form, such as Longfellow's
Divina Commedia," the fourteen
lines are divided into an octave of two rhyme-sounds arranged abba
abba and a sestet of two additional rhyme sounds which may be
variously arranged. This latter form tends to divide the thought into two
opposing or complementary phases of the same idea.
Sidelight: A variant of the
Shakespearean form is the Spenserian sonnet which links the quatrains with a
chain or interlocked rhyme
scheme, abab bcbc cdcd ee.
Sidelight: The English language
contains fewer rhyming possibilities than Italian, so the Shakespearean adaptation relieved English poets
from the greater difficulty of rhyming in the Italian sonnet format.
Sidelight: A sonnet sequence
is a series of sonnets in which there is a discernable unifying theme, while each one retains its own
structural independence. All of Shakespeare's sonnets, for example, were part of a sequence,
(See Quatorzain, Volta)
(See also Anthology, Canon,
Companion Poem, Cycle,
- A composer of sonnets; also, the term is sometimes applied to a minor or insignificant poet.
(See also Bard, Metrist,
- SOTADIC or SOTADEAN
- See Palindrome
- SOUND DEVICES
- Resources used by writers of verse to convey and reinforce the meaning or experience
of poetry through the skillful use of sound.
Sidelight: Sound devices are often
combined, as in Coleridge's effective use of alliteration,
and consonance in the opening line of
Other devices that contribute to the sound are rhyme,
caesura, phonetic symbolism,
rhythm, and meter.
(See also Mimesis)
- SOUND SYMBOLISM
- See Phonetic Symbolism
- See Persona
- SPENSERIAN SONNET
- See under Sonnet
- SPENSERIAN STANZA
- A stanza devised by Spenser for The Faerie Queene,
founded on the Italian ottava rima.
It is a stanza of nine iambic lines, all of ten syllables except the last,
which is an Alexandrine. There are only three rhymes
in a stanza, arranged in an ababbcbcc rhyme scheme.
Sidelight: The longer length of the
Alexandrines in the last lines provides emphasis and a sense of closure
to the stanzas.
- SPLIT LINES
- See Hemistich
- SPLIT RHYME
- See Broken Rhyme
- SPONDEE (SPAHN-dee), SPONDAIC (spahn-DAY-ick)
- A metrical foot with two long or equally accented
syllables together, as in
BREAD BOX or SHOE-SHINE.
Two unaccented syllables
(a pyrrhic foot) often precede or follow a spondee.
Sidelight: Verses entirely composed
of spondees are rare; their principal use is as variations in iambic lines in which the
successive accented syllables of a spondee are effective for the suggestion of gravity
or emphasis, as in Christina Georgina Rossetti's
Be the | GREEN GRASS | a-BOVE | me
- SPRUNG RHYTHM
- A poetic rhythm characterized by feet varying from one to four
syllables which are equal in time length but different in the number of
syllables. It has only one stress per foot, falling on the first syllable, or on the only
syllable if there is but one, which produces the frequent juxtaposition of single
Sidelight: As the name suggests,
sprung rhythm springs loose from the regularly alternating accents associated with
Sidelight: Sprung rhythm is associated in
modern poetry chiefly with the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins, as in his poem,
According to Robert Bridges,
in his notes to the 1918 edition of Hopkins' Poems, sprung rhythm is the natural rhythm
of English speech and written prose; it appeared in English verse up to the Elizabethan era as well
as having been used in Greek and Latin verse.
(Compare Polyphonic Prose)
- STANZA, STANZAIC
- A division of a poem made by arranging the lines into units separated by a
space, usually of a corresponding number of lines and a recurrent pattern of
meter and rhyme. A poem with such divisions
is described as having a stanzaic form, but not all verse is divided in stanzas.
Sidelight: A stanza having lines
of the same length and meter, as is the case in most stanzaic poems, is said to be isometric.
The exceptions, such as the stanzas in tail rhyme and
in which the lines are not all of the same length and meter, are said to be anisometric or
Sidelight: The regularity of stanza
patterns conveys an impression of order and the expectation of
Sidelight: A poem in which the lines
follow each other without a formal pattern of stanzaic units is described as having a
continuous form, in which there may be no line groupings at all or only irregular line groupings,
dictated by meaning, as in paragraphs of prose.
(See also Fit, Stave,
(Compare Canto, Couplet,
- STANZA FORMS
- The names given to describe the number of lines in a stanzaic unit,
such as: couplet (2), tercet
(3), quatrain (4), quintet (5),
sestet (6), septet (7), and
octave (8). Some stanzas follow a set
rhyme scheme and meter in addition
to the number of lines and are given specific names to describe them, such as,
ballad meter, ottava rima,
rhyme royal, terza rima, and
Sidelight: Stanza forms are also
a factor in the categorization of whole poems described as following a
- A verse, stanza, or
a metrical portion of a poem.
- STICH (stik)
- A line or verse of poetry.
(Compare Distich, Monostich,
- STICHOMYTHIA (stik-uh-MITH-ee-uh) or
- A dramatic dialogue of lively repartee in alternate
verse lines. When half-lines instead of whole lines are used for this technique, it is called
- STORNELLO VERSES
- Verses which include the repetition of certain words in changing order and varied
- A passage or piece of poetry; a flow of eloquence, style, or spirit in expression.
- STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
- See Interior Monologue
- From a linguistics standpoint, the intensity of muscular effort required for the articulation of
syllables, but for prosodic purposes, the term is commonly and correctly used as a synonym
(See also Cadence, Ictus,
- STROPHE (STROH-fee)
- In modern poetry, a stanza or rhythmic
system of two or more lines arranged as a unit. In classical poetry,
a strophe is the first division in the triadic structure of Pindaric verse,
corresponding metrically to the antistrophe which follows it;
also, the stanza preceding or alternating with the antistrophe in ancient lyric poetry.
Sidelight: A poem consisting of just one
stanza is monostrophic; a poem with the repetition of metrically identical stanzas is homostrophic; a poem
not divided into strophic units or that is
arranged in irregular stanzas is astrophic.
(See also Epode)
- The poet's individual creative process, as determined by choices involving diction,
figurative language, rhetorical devices,
sounds, and rhythmic patterns.
Form, Motif, Persona,
- SYLLABIC VERSE
- A type of verse distinguished primarily by the
syllable count, i.e., the
number of syllables in each line, rather
than by the rhythmical arrangement of accents or time quantities.
cinquain and haiku
are examples of strictly syllabic verse, but most modern English poetry is a combination of
accentual and syllabic versification.
(Compare Accentual Verse,
- A word or part of a word representing a sound produced as a unit by a single
impulse of the voice, consisting of either a vowel sound alone as in oh or a vowel
with attendant consonants, as in throne.
Sidelight: In modern English,
word syllables are characterized as either
accented or unaccented; in non-accentual languages such as classical Greek
and Latin, syllables are classified as either long or short, depending on the quantity of time it takes to
pronounce them due to varying vowel lengths and consonant groupings. Thus, the distinction
between accented and long syllables on the one hand, and unaccented and short syllables
on the other, represents the difference between
accentual verse and
The basis for syllabic verse is the count of syllables
in a line.
- SYLLEPSIS (suh-LEP-sus)
- A type of zeugma in which a single word, usually a verb or adjective,
agrees grammatically with two or more other words, but semantically with only one, thereby effecting a
shift in sense with the other, as in "colder than ice and a usurer's heart," or Pope's:
Or stain her Honour, or her new Brocade.
Sidelight: Because of the shift in sense,
the syllepsis is related to the pun or
- An image transferred by something that stands for or represents
something else, like flag for country, or
maturity. Symbols can transfer the ideas embodied
in the image without stating them, as in Robert Frost's
"Acquainted With the Night," in which night is symbolic of death or depression, or
Sara Teasdale's "The Long Hill," in which the climb up the
hill symbolizes life and the brambles are symbolic of life's adversities.
Sidelight: Symbols can be subject to
a diversity of connotations, so both the poet and the reader
must exercise sensible discretion to avoid misinterpretation.
(See also Allusion, Analogy)
- A late 19th century movement reacting against realism. Influenced by the
connections between music and poetry, it sought to
achieve the effects of images and
metaphors to symbolize the basic
idea or emotion of each poem.
- SYMPLOCE (sim-PLOH-see or sim-PLAW-see)
- The repetition of a word or expression at the beginnings plus the repetition of a word or
expression at the ends of successive phrases, i.e., a combination of both
anaphora and epistrophe.
- SYNAERESIS or SYNERESIS (sin-EHR-uh-sus)
- A type of elision in which two contiguous vowels within a word
which are normally pronounced as two syllables, as in seest, are pronounced as one syllable instead.
(See also Aphaeresis, Apocope,
- SYNALOEPHA or SYNALEPHA (sin-uh-LEE-fuh)
- A type of elision in which a vowel at the end of one word is
coalesced with one beginning the next word, as "th' embattled plain."
(See also Aphaeresis, Apocope,
- SYNCOPATION (sin-koh-PAY-shun)
- In the quantitive verse of classical poetry,
the suppression of one syllable in a metrical pattern, with
its time value either replaced by a pause (like a musician's "rest") or by the additional lengthening of an
adjoining long syllable.
- SYNCOPE (SIN-koh-pee)
- A type of elision in which a word is contracted by removing one or more letters or syllables
from the middle, as ne'er for never, or fo'c'sle
- SYNECDOCHE (suh-NEK-duh-kee)
- A figure of speech in which a part of something
stands for the whole or the whole for a part, as
wheels for automobile or society for high society.
Sidelight: Synecdoche is so similar in meaning to
metonymy that the latter term is often
used for both.
- SYNESTHESIA or
- The perception or description of one kind of sense impression in words
normally used to describe a different sense, like a
"loud aroma" or a "velvety smile." It can be very effective
for creating vivid imagery.
(See also Catachresis, Enallage,
- SYNESTHETIC METAPHOR
- A metaphor that suggests a similarity
between experiences in different senses, as "a gourmet of country music."
(See also Conceit,
- One of two or more words that have the same or nearly identical
- The way in which linguistic elements (words and phrases) are arranged to
form grammatical structure.
Sidelight: Poetic syntax
often departs from conventional use, employing devices such as hyperbatons
and ploces, among others.