Poetry has a surprising number of terms to describe the wonderful twists and turns that language can take. I know the terms can all get very confusing so I wanted to create a quick simple list of terms. And hey, this is going to help me big time in learning them myself!
Iamb- Alright, simple ones first. This is the basic beat a lot of poetry takes. It involves an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable. For example: ‘the DOOR’ is an iamb.
Trochee- Now, we’re getting fancy! A trochee is the opposite of the iamb (they’re actually mortal enemies who duel every Wednesday at 3). It’s an accented syllable followed by an unaccented syllable. For example ‘TOtal’ is a trochee.
Anapest- This one is a bit rarer to see but still very interesting. This is two unaccented syllables followed by an accented syllable. For example: ‘for a TIME’ is an anapest.
Dactyl- Another rare one. This is the mirror version of an anapest. It’s an accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables. For example: ‘MERrily’ is a dactyl.
Spondee- This is probably my favorite to say. It’s just fun! It is two accented syllables together. For example: BREAD BOX
Pyrrhic Foot- Two unaccented syllables together. For example: ‘and the’ is a pyrrhic foot.
Caesura- This is one I had never heard before but it’s a great way of manipulating how a poem is read. It involves a pause within a line of poetry. It’s usually created by punctuation. Alexander Pope has a very famous line that uses a great example of caesura: To err is human ; to forgive, divine.
Those are a few basic terms to begin gaining a familiarity. In future posts I’ll go into most detail about each of these and what roles they play in poetry. What terms are you familiar with or would you like to see?