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Universal Elements of Poetry


absolute - Actually Captain Absolute. A masquerading character developed by Richard Sheridan (1751-1816) for his play Rivals first performed in 1775 . In this satirical comedy Captain Absolute is a bossy, autocratic lover determined to marry Lydia Languish, who has her own idea of a romantic event, which is to elope. He mounts this disguise and pursues her in a circuitous way. The theme attacks the pretentiousness and sentimentality of the age. In the end they marry. See Mrs. Malaprop for another great character introduced in the play. In meaning we take from the OED as “free from all imperfection or deficiency”. It occurs in this context in several works: in 1579 the English prose writer, John Lyly, wrote in Euphues “A young man so absolute, as yet nothing may be added to his further perfection”: then in 1602 the English poet, Thomas Carew described his character Captaine Hender as “the absolutist man of war”: another English poet, George Sandys, wrote in Travels that “Englishmen, are the absolutist mariners under heaven.” From A Statistical Study of English Poetic Language 1972.

abstract verse - a term introduced by poet Dame Sitwell for verse that uses sounds, textures, rhythms, and rhymes to show emotion rather than meanings of selected words. It bares similarity to an abstract painting in which the arrangement of colors and shapes reveal no obvious object, or person from the here and now. Thus abstract verse depends on its sound. rhyme, or rhythm for meaning. For ex: Sitwell's, Mrs. Mouse Trots "the elephant trunks trumpet from the sea." or her Interlude "Amid this hot green glowing gloom a word falls with a raindrops boom."

accent - Emphasis on a syllable.

accented meter - In accented meter only syllables are counted.

accentual verse - In acccentual verse there must be the same number of accented (stressed) syllables in each line. It is the simplest and oldest verse form. Traditionally delivered orally in Germany, Scandinavia and England. Beowulf is the single survival from Scandinavia while from England we have Mother Goose rhymes for children (1765).

As round as an apple ˘ / ˘ ˘ / ˘
As deep as a cup ˘ / ˘ ˘ /
All the king's horses / ˘ ˘ / ˘
Can't pull it up. / ˘ ˘ /

Accentual verse was the verse form of poets prior to the late 17th century.
The Romantic Period saw the beginning of rhyming. Modern poets who use accentual verse in their work are Auden, T.S. Eliot, and Theodore Roethke. In recent time basic accentual verse is heard in rap.

In the poem what if a much of a which of a wind, ee Cummings uses four accents per line:

“what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer’s lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggare and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man”

acrostic - A type of poem in which the order of letters spell a name or title. The most frequent examples use the first letter of each line of the poem. Other less frequent types are "mesostic" or middle letters and "telestic" for final letters. The initial letter type is sometimes called abecedarian. This verse type may be light humorous or serious. The word "acrostic" is from the Greek "akros" meaning "at the end" and "stichos" meaning "a line of verse." This form can be found in early versions of the Bible notably Psalms 15 and 119. It was used by both Greek and Latin writers. For examples see The Alchemist by Ben Jonson. In Poe's An Enigma, the name concealed in the poem is Sarah Anna Lewis. It is formed from the first letter of the first line, the second letter of the second line, the third letter of the third line, and so on, For example of initial order of letters see Lewis Carroll's A Boat Beneath A Sunny Sky.

aeolic - This refers to Greek lyric poetry from the 650 to 450 B.C. of which only the works of Pindar have survived. It consists of two distinct classical verse forms attibuted to Alcaeus and Sappho. The earliest examples of lyric poetry are attributed to Alcman, Stesichorus, Alcaeus, Sappho, Ibycus, Anacreon, Simonides, Bacchylides, and Pindar; the nine stars of the era of Alexandrian literature. This small number of Archaic poets who are credited with compositions in hexameters (predominantly two, Homer and Hesiod) in iambics: Archilochus, Hipponax, Semonides, Solon and elegiacs: Archilochus, Callinus, Mimnermus, Tyrtaeus, Theognis, Solon, Xenophanes.

after-undertaker - A writer or composer who develops his work as an imitation of either a previous work or of an existing genre. The term introduced by John Dryden in Preface to his libretto to the opera Albion and Albantus. Dryden defined opera as “a poetical tale, or fiction, represented by vocal and instrumental music, adorned with scenes, machines and dancing," it follows the 17th century Italian opera tradition.

alcaic Greek stanza - Alcaeus was a famous lyric poet of Mitylene, in Lesbos. His poems were written in the Aeolic dialect and came to be known as the Alcaic stophe. This form is written in tetrameter. It has two variations. In the greater alcaic a stanza consists two iambs plus a long syllable and two dactyls. The lesser alcaic consist of two dactylic feet followed by two iambic feet. Example shows Greek alcaic stanza meter showing stress characteristics:

◊ = long or short; ˘ = short; ˉ = long;

The alcaic stanza - four line verse:

◊|ˉ ˘|ˉ ◊|ˉ ˘ ˘|ˉ ˘|ˉ

◊|ˉ ˘|ˉ ◊|ˉ ˘ ˘|ˉ ˘|ˉ

◊|ˉ ˘|ˉ ◊|ˉ ˘|ˉ ◊

ˉ ˘ ˘|ˉ ˘˘|ˉ ˘|ˉ ◊

The first two lines have endeka (eleven) syllables; the third line ennea (nine) syllables and the fourth line deka (ten) sellables.

Here are two opening line fragments from the poetess Sappho, a contemporary Alcaeus: The moon is gone, Pleiads set midnight is nigh. Time passes on, and passes yet alone I lie.

alcaic Roman stanza - The meter found in Homer's Odes. The Roman version is a variation of iambic pattern. A stanza consists of four lines, the first two are divided into two parts by a caesura after the fifth syllable. The third lines with nine syllables; the fourth line with ten. This example from Horace Ode xii:

Antehac nefas, depromere Caecubum
cellis avitis, dum Capitolio
Regina dementis ruinas
funas et Imperio parabat.

O migh/ty-mouthed / in/ ventor of / harmonies,
O skilled / to sing/ of / Time or E / ternity.
God-gift / ed or / gan-voice / of Eng / land,
Milton, a / name to re / sound for / ages.

The Roman version has been used resurrected in the early part of the twentieth century by the Hungarian Mihaly Babits in They Sang Long Ago In Sapho's Days. Although not a favorite of English poets with the exception of Tennyson's ode Milton.

alexandrine - A six lines of verse in iambic hexameter, a total of 12 syllables with a caesura after the sixth. We offer this example from Theocritus:

O fortunate Komatas, such joys indeed were thine;
Yea prisoned in the coffer, by the bees thou wast fed
Listening to thy voice, whilst thou under oaks or pines
Had slain divine Komatas, singing sweet melodies.

There are several suggestions about how the name came about. In one version the name is attributed to Αδριανός (Andrianus), a Greek poet who wrote an epic poem on the Alexander the Great. The second and more common exaplanation is that the name is derived from the early use of the verse in the French Roman d'Alexandre, a collection of romances that was compiled in the 12th century about the adventures of Alexander the Great. It was revived in the 16th century by the poets of the Pliades. (see Pleides) At the same time Michael Drayton made an attempt to introduce the meter to England in his poem the Polyolbion. However it failed to appeal to the English literati who preferred the iambic.The Dutch adopted the alexandrine around the 17th century but it was the French through the writing of Ronsard that it became the favorite of all great French poetry. Ronsard altered the French alexandrine to require two requirements with respect to the pauses. One, each line should be divided into two equal parts, the sixth syllable always ending with a word. Two, there should be a complete sense of phrase or sentence.

The following is an example of the verse as used by Racine:

Ou suis-je? qu'ai-je fait? que dois-je faire encore?
Quel transport me saisit? quel chagrin me devore?

For an example of 19th century French read Baudelaire's Les Bijoux:

La trs-chre tait nue,et connaissant mon cur,
Elle n'avait gard, que ses bijoux sonores,
Dont le riche attirail, lui donnait l'air vainqueur
Qu'ont dans leurs jours heureux, les esclaves des Mores.

See Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism in this verse of heroic couplets the final line is alexandrine.

Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.

Another Example is in The Testament of Beauty - Bridges

allegory - In poetry, the allegory is a poem in which people, things or happenings have a symbolic meaning. Usually revealed through personification. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is a good reference for allegorical meanings. Of the modern poets Auden is a good example. Although his poems are still in copyright, here is an excerpt from his Musee des Beaux Arts.

In Brueghel's Icarus; for instance how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster, the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry
But for him it was not an important failure;the sun shone...
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Jonathan Swift is given first rank in the power of invention applied to the allegory from his Battle of the Books:

“dwelt on the top of a snowy mountain in Nova Zembla: there Momus found her extended in her den upon the spoils of numberless volumes half-devoured. At her right hand sat Ignorance, her father and husband, blind with age; at her left Pride, her mother, dressing her up in the scraps of paper herself had torn. There was Opinion, her sister, light of foot, hoodwinked, and headstrong, yet giddy and perpetually turning. About her played her children, Noise and Impudence, Dulness and Vanity, Positiveness, Pedantry, and Ill Manners”.

alias - In early satirical poetry and drama a character is given different names to expose corrupt politics or general mayhem in society. Most flagrant character is from John Gay’s (1685-1732) The Beggar’s Opera where all sorts of crimes of theft, vice, and deceit are disguised within the social politics of the day. This work gave rise to the phrase "You have as many aliases as Robin of Bagshot." In this satire of the early 18th century (1728) the character Robin has four names: Gordon, Bluff Bob, Carbuncle, and Bob Booty.

alliteration - Alliteration is the repetition of one or more same or similar consonant or vowel sounds usually accented in predominantly three or four beat lines. Alliteration has three types: paired initial sylables in doubles or triples, embedded as strongly stressed syllables, and third, occurring on both sides of a caesura. The first form is the most often seen in modern English and American poetry. An example of beginning alliteration can be found in Frost's Aquainted with the Night. "I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet" Also Swinburne's Nephelidia "As they grope through the grave-yard of creeds, under skies growing green at a groan for the grimness of God." For embedded alliteration the lines from Poe's The Raven "Desolate yet all undaunted, on the desert land enchanted." All three types can be found in Auden's In The Age of Anxiety.

Now the news. Night raids on
Five cities. Fires started.
Pressure applied by pincer movement
In threatening thrust. Third Division
Enlarges beachhead. Lucky charm
Saves sniper. Sabotage hinted
In steel-mill stoppage. Strong point held By fanatical Nazis. Canal crossed...

For additional information see Dana Gioia

Alliteration was the standard in Old and Middle English poetry but became a favorite of poets in later eras. It was frequently attacked by critics especially this from Act V of Midsummer Night’s Dream Quince delivers this:

‘This man, with his lantern, dog, and thornbush, portrays Moonshine, because, if you want to know, the lovers were not ashamed to meet each other by moonshine at Ninus’s tomb in order to carry on their courtship. This grisly beast, which is called “Lion,” scared away, or rather frightened, the faithful Thisbe when she arrived at the meeting place at night. As she ran away from him, she dropped her cloak, which the horrible Lion stained with his bloody mouth. Soon Pyramus comes along, a tall and handsome young man, and finds his faithful Thisbe’s cloak to be dead. At this point, he takes his sword, his bloody blameful blade, and bravely breaks open his boiling bloody breast. And Thisbe, hiding in the shade of the mulberry bushes, took his dagger and killed herself. For the rest of the story, let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and the two lovers talk more about it, since they’re standing here.”

Also in Latin hexameter one hundred lines on cats:
“cattorum canimus certamina clara canumque.”

Then there is Swinburne’s Nephilidia:

“From the depth of the dreamy decline of the dawn through a notable nimbus of nebulous noonshine,
Pallid and pink as the palm of the flag-flower that flickers with fear of the flies as they float,
Are they looks of our lovers that lustrously lean from a marvel of mystic miraculous moonshine,
These that we feel in the blood of our blushes that thicken and threaten with throbs through the throat?
Thicken and thrill as a theatre thronged at appeal of an actor's appalled agitation,
Fainter with fear of the fires of the future than pale with the promise of pride in the past;
Flushed with the famishing fullness of fever that reddens with radiance of rathe recreation,
Gaunt as the ghastliest of glimpses that gleam through the gloom of the gloaming when ghosts go aghast?
Nay, for the nick of the tick of the time is a tremulous touch on the temples of terror,
Strained as the sinews yet strenuous with strife of the dead who is dumb as the dust-heaps of death:
Surely no soul is it, sweet as the spasm of erotic emotional exquisite error,
Bathed in the balms of beatified bliss, beatific itself by beatitude's breath.
Surely no spirit or sense of a soul that was soft to the spirit and soul of our senses
Sweetens the stress of suspiring suspicion that sobs in the semblance and sound of a sigh;
Only this oracle opens Olympian, in mystical moods and triangular tenses--
"Life is the lust of a lamp for the light that is dark till the dawn of the day when we die."
Mild is the mirk and monotonous music of memory, melodiously mute as it may be,
While the hope in the heart of a hero is bruised by the breach of men's rapiers, resigned to the rod;
Made meek as a mother whose bosom-beats bound with the bliss-bringing bulk of a balm-breathing baby,
As they grope through the grave-yard of creeds, under skies growing green at a groan for the grimness of God.
Blank is the book of his bounty beholden of old, and its binding is blacker than bluer:
Out of blue into black is the scheme of the skies, and their dews are the wine of the bloodshed of things;
Till the darkling desire of delight shall be free as a fawn that is freed from the fangs that pursue her,
Till the heart-beats of hell shall be hushed by a hymn from the hunt that has harried the kennel of kings.”

From the Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner:

“The fair breeze blew, the white form flew,
The furrow followed free.”

See Amphigoury.

amphibrach - The word comes from the Greek αμφίβραχυς, "short on both sides", amphi-on both sides; brakhys-short. A trisyllabic metrical foot having one stressed or long syllable between two unstressed or short syllables, as in the word 'remember'. Amphibracs are never used to construct an entire poem. The best example would be Thomas Hardy's The Ruined Maid.

"You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!"
"Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.

"At home in the barton you said `thee' and `thou,
And `thik oon,' and `thes oon,' and `t'other';
Your talking quite fits 'ee for high company!"
"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.

For an example of amphibrachic trimeter try a limerick "There was an old lady from Boston." In Browning's How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix you will find three amphibrachs and one final iamb also one initial iamb and three anapests.

"Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast."

amphigory - Nonsense verse or any verse that appears to have meaning but concludes with none. Perfected mostly by Edward Lear (1912-1888) in his The Quangle Wangle's Hat:

On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody every could see the face
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

The Quangle Wangle said
To himself on the Crumpetty Tree,
"Jam; and jelly; and bread;
"Are the best of food for me!
"But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree
"The plainer than ever it seems to me
"That very few people come this way
"And that life on the whole is far from gay!"
Said the Quangle Wangle Quee.

But there came to the Crumpetty Tree,
Mr. and Mrs. Canary;
And they said, -- "Did every you see
"Any spot so charmingly airy?
"May we build a nest on your lovely Hat?
"Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!
"O please let us come and build a nest
"Of whatever material suits you best,
"Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!"

And besides, to the Crumpetty Tree
Came the Stork, the Duck, and the Owl;
The Snail, and the Bumble-Bee,
The Frog, and the Fimble Fowl;
(The Fimble Fowl, with a corkscrew leg;)
And all of them said, -- "We humbly beg,
"We may build out homes on your lovely Hat, --
"Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!
"Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!"

And the Golden Grouse came there,
And the Pobble who has no toes, --
And the small Olympian bear, --
And the Dong with a luminous nose.
And the Blue Baboon, who played the Flute, --
And the Orient Calf from the Land of Tute, --
And the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat, --
All came and built on the lovely Hat
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

And the Quangle Wangle said
To himself on the Crumpetty Tree, --
"When all these creatures move
"What a wonderful noise there'll be!"
And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon
They danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon,
n the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,
And all were as happy as happy could be,
With the Quangle Wangle Quee.

And Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) in Jabberwocky:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree.
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

This famous example from Alice in Wonderland occurs when the first stanza of the poem is first printed backwards but Alice reads it by holding it up to a looking-glass. She engages Humpty Dumpty for an explanation. "Let's hear it," said Humpty Dumpty. "I can explain all the poems that ever were in vented -- and a good many that haven't been invented just yet."

Other examples from Algernon Swinburne (1832-1909), In a Nutshell and Nephelidia:

IN A NUTSHELL

One and two are not one: but one and nothing is two:
Truth can hardly be false, if falsehood cannot be true.

Once the mastodon was: pterodactyls were common as
cocks:
Then the mammoth was God: now is He a prize ox.

Parallels all things are: yet many of these are askew:
You are certainly I: but certainly I am not you.

Springs the rock from the plain, shoots the stream from
the rock
Cocks exist for the hen: but hens exist for the cock.

God, whom we see not, is: and God, who is not, we see:
Fiddle, we know, is diddle: and diddle, we take it, is
dee.

And Nephelidia, the title itself is nonsense as well as super examples of alliteration:

Thicken and thrill as a theatre thronged at appeal of an
actor's appalled agitation,
Fainter with fear of the fires of the future than pale
with the promise of pride in the past ;
Flushed with the famishing fullness of fever that reddens
with radiance of rathe recreation,
Gaunt as the ghastliest of glimpses that gleam through
the gloom of the gloaming when ghosts go aghast?
Nay, for the nick of the tick of the time is a tremu-
lous touch on the temples of terror,
Strained as the sinews yet strenuous with strife of
the dead who is dumb as the dust-heaps of death:
Surely no soul is it, sweet as the spasm of erotic emo-
tional exquisite error,
Bathed in the balms of beatified bliss, beatific itself by
beatitude's breath.

Surely no spirit or sense of a soul that was soft to the
spirit and soul of our senses
Sweetens the stress of suspiring suspicion that sobs in
the semblance and sound of a sigh;
Only this oracle opens Olympian, in mystical moods and
triangular tenses —
'Life is the lust of a lamp for the light that is dark till
the dawn of the day when we die.'
Mild is the mirk and monotonous music of memory,
melodiously mute as it may be,
While the hope in the heart of a hero is bruised by the
breach of men's rapiers, resigned to the rod;
Made meek as a mother whose bosom-beats bound with
the bliss-bringing bulk of a balm-breathing baby,
As they grope through the grave-yard of creeds, under
skies growing green at a groan for the grimness of God.

Blank is the book of his bounty beholden of old, and its
binding is blacker than bluer:
Out of blue into black is the scheme of the skies, and
their dews are the wine of the bloodshed of things;
Till the darkling desire of delight shall be free as a fawn
that is freed from the fangs that pursue her,
Till the heart-beats of hell shall be hushed by a hymn
from the hunt that has harried the kennel of kings.

anachronism - Occasionally writers err in introducing terms or events that are misplaced in time of occurrence. Unless the reader is historically alert, some misunderstandings may occur. In seeking them out try Middle English works and works of Shakespeare. Smiles appear when students read in part I of Henry IV “The turkeys in my pannier are quite starved” - turkeys were not even recognized until after the discovery of America at least century later. Most readers miss the anachronism in Act II of Julius Caesar, when Caesar boldly announces “The clock has stricken three.” Such clocks were not even invented in the time of the Romans.

anacreontic - An aeolic meter used in Greek lyric poetry. Invented by Anacreon (554bc-469bc) with the pattern u u / u / u / /. It is usually reserved for drinking songs or light lyric thematic verse. Here is one of his odes translated by Moore where Anacreon is the symposiarch (master) who declares the laws of drinking festivals:

Give me the harp of epic song,
Which Homer's finger thrilled along;
But tear away the sanguine string,
For war is not the theme I sing.
Proclaim the laws of festal right,
I'm monarch of the board to-night;
And all around shall brim as high,
And quaff the tide as deep as I.
And when the cluster's mellowing dews
Their warm enchanting balm infuse,
Our feet shall catch the elastic bound,
And reel us through the dance's round.
Great Bacchus! we shall sing to thee,
In wild but sweet ebriety;
Flashing around such sparks of thought,
As Bacchus could alone have taught.

Then, give the harp of epic song,
Which Homer's finger thrilled along;
But tear away the sanguine string,
For war is not the theme I sing.

Some very good examples in English are from Abraham Cowley (1618-1667) and Thomas Moore(1779-1852). Here are three Cowley anacreontics:

Drinking

The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks and gapes for drink again;
The plants suck in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair;
The sea itself (which one would think
Should have but little need of drink)
Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
So fill'd that they o'erflow the cup.
The busy Sun (and one would guess
By 's drunken fiery face no less)
Drinks up the sea, and when he 's done,
The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun:
They drink and dance by their own light,
They drink and revel all the night:
Nothing in Nature 's sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses therefor why
Should every creature drink but I?
Why, man of morals, tell me why?

The Epicure

Underneath this myrtle shade,
On flowerly beds supinely laid,
With odorous oils my head o'erflowing,
And around it roses growing,
What should I do but drink away
The heat and troubles of the day?
In this more than kingly state
Love himself on me shall wait.
Fill to me, Love! nay, fill it up!
And mingled cast into the cup
Wit and mirth and noble fires,
Vigorous health and gay desires.
The wheel of life no less will stay
In a smooth than rugged way:
Since it equally doth flee,
Let the motion pleasant be.
Why do we precious ointments shower?
Nobler wines why do we pour?
Beauteous flowers why do we spread
Upon the monuments of the dead?
Nothing they but dust can show,
Or bones that hasten to be so.
Crown me with roses while I live,
Now your wines and ointments give:
After death I nothing crave,
Let me alive my pleasures have:
All are Stoics in the grave.

The Swallow

Foolish prater, what dost thou
So early at my window do?
Cruel bird, thou'st ta'en away
A dream out of my arms to-day;
A dream that ne'er must equall'd be
By all that waking eyes may see.
Thou this damage to repair
Nothing half so sweet and fair,
Nothing half so good, canst bring,
Tho' men say thou bring'st the Spring.

Here is Thomas Moore's Friend of My Soul:

Friend of my soul, this goblet sip,
'Twill chase that pensive tear;
'Tis not so sweet as woman's lip,
But, oh! 'tis more sincere.

Like her delusive beam,
'Twill steal away thy mind:
But, truer than love's dream,
It leaves no sting behind.

Come, twine the wreath, thy brows to shade;
These flowers were culled at noon;--
Like woman's love the rose will fade,
But, ah! not half so soon.

For though the flower's decayed,
Its fragrance is not o'er;
But once when love's betrayed,
Its sweet life blooms no more.

anacrusis - Where the poet introduces one or two unstressed syllables at the beginning of a line of verse. They do not count as part of the meter. Most notable poet is Blake

How sweet is the shepherd’s sweet lot
From the morn to the evening he strays.
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
A Shepherd. R. Blake

anapest - Also called ascending rhyme. Describes meter with two weak stresses followed by a strong stress. “I have passed with a nod of the head,” Easter 1916, Yeats.

Anapest may have different meters.

"save the day; save the day": anapestic dimeter unknown

An example where the anapest dominates with twenty-seven occurrences is Tennyson's Break, Break, Break, with the last line in the first stanza "And the sound of a voice that is still" in anapestic trimeter.

Another example is the opening of Byron's The Destruction of Sennrcharib:

"The Assyrian cam down like a wolf on the fold
And his cohorts were gleaming to purple and gold."

anaphora - The repetition of a word at the beginning of several lines of poetry. A familiar example is For I will Consider My Cat Jeoffry Christopher Smart.

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God,
For as the first glance of the...

In this poem written in seventy-four lines begin with the word "For" Written from 1756-1763 when he was a patient at Bedlam Hospital.

antanaclasis - Greek word meaning echo. A word is repeated but with different meanings (denotative and connotative). A freqently cited example are these lines from Frosts Stopping by the Woods on a Snow Evening where the word "sleep" means "rest" in the first line and "death" in the second..

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

anthropomorphism - Poetry that ascribes human capabilities to inanimate objects. Most poets use the device in their verse. Ex. “the morning stars sang together”; “the morn in russet mantle clad” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1); “merry are crickets” (Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel; “the long arm of the law” (Herodotus, History of Persian Wars, Book VIII, Urania, chap,140); “London, great flower that opens but at night” (LeGalliene, Ballad of London);”The vesper bell from far that seems mourn for the expiring day.” (Dante, Purgatoroio Canto 8, line 6). “A business with an income at its heels” (Cowper, Retirement). “White rose in red-rose garden Is not so white; Snowdrops, that plead for pardon and pine for fright” (Swinburne, Before the Mirror).

Also this poem by Joseph Rodman Drake Bronx River:

Yes, I will look upon thy face again,
My own romantic Bronx, and it will be
A face more pleasant than the face of men.
Thy waves are old companions, I shall see
A well remembered form in each old tree.
And hear a voice long loved in thy wild minstrelsy.

However Tennyson went a step further when he describes writing a single poem as an experiment to test the degree to which it is within the power of poetry to humanize external nature. The result of that experiment was The Talking Oak:

Once more the gate behind me falls;
Once more before my face
I see the moulder'd Abbey-walls,
That stand within the chace.

Beyond the lodge the city lies,
Beneath its drift of smoke;
And ah! with what delighted eyes
I turn to yonder oak.

For when my passion first began,
Ere that, which in me burn'd,
The love, that makes me thrice a man,
Could hope itself return'd;

To yonder oak within the field
I spoke without restraint,
And with a larger faith appeal'd
Than Papist unto Saint.

For oft I talk'd with him apart
And told him of my choice,
Until he plagiarized a heart,
And answer'd with a voice.

Tho' what he whisper'd under Heaven
None else could understand;
I found him garrulously given,
A babbler in the land.

But since I heard him make reply
Is many a weary hour;
'Twere well to question him, and try
If yet he keeps the power.

Hail, hidden to the knees in fern,
Broad Oak of Sumner-chace,
Whose topmost branches can discern
The roofs of Sumner-place!

Say thou, whereon I carved her name,
If ever maid or spouse,
As fair as my Olivia, came
To rest beneath thy boughs.---

"O Walter, I have shelter'd here
Whatever maiden grace
The good old Summers, year by year
Made ripe in Sumner-chace:

"Old Summers, when the monk was fat,
And, issuing shorn and sleek,
Would twist his girdle tight, and pat
The girls upon the cheek,

"Ere yet, in scorn of Peter's-pence,
And number'd bead, and shrift,
Bluff Harry broke into the spence
And turn'd the cowls adrift:

"And I have seen some score of those
Fresh faces that would thrive
When his man-minded offset rose
To chase the deer at five;

"And all that from the town would stroll,
Till that wild wind made work
In which the gloomy brewer's soul
Went by me, like a stork:

"The slight she-slips of royal blood,
And others, passing praise,
Straight-laced, but all-too-full in bud
For puritanic stays:

"And I have shadow'd many a group
Of beauties, that were born
In teacup-times of hood and hoop,
Or while the patch was worn;

"And, leg and arm with love-knots gay
About me leap'd and laugh'd
The modish Cupid of the day,
And shrill'd his tinsel shaft.

"I swear (and else may insects prick
Each leaf into a gall)
This girl, for whom your heart is sick,
Is three times worth them all.

"For those and theirs, by Nature's law,
Have faded long ago;
But in these latter springs I saw
Your own Olivia blow,

"From when she gamboll'd on the greens
A baby-germ, to when
The maiden blossoms of her teens
Could number five from ten.

"I swear, by leaf, and wind, and rain,
(And hear me with thine ears,)
That, tho' I circle in the grain
Five hundred rings of years---

"Yet, since I first could cast a shade,
Did never creature pass
So slightly, musically made,
So light upon the grass:

"For as to fairies, that will flit
To make the greensward fresh,
I hold them exquisitely knit,
But far too spare of flesh."

Oh, hide thy knotted knees in fern,
And overlook the chace;
And from thy topmost branch discern
The roofs of Sumner-place.

But thou, whereon I carved her name,
That oft hast heard my vows,
Declare when last Olivia came
To sport beneath thy boughs.

"O yesterday, you know, the fair
Was holden at the town;
Her father left his good arm-chair,
And rode his hunter down.

"And with him Albert came on his.
I look'd at him with joy:
As cowslip unto oxlip is,
So seems she to the boy.

"An hour had past---and, sitting straight
Within the low-wheel'd chaise,
Her mother trundled to the gate
Behind the dappled grays.

"But as for her, she stay'd at home,
And on the roof she went,
And down the way you use to come,
She look'd with discontent.

"She left the novel half-uncut
Upon the rosewood shelf;
She left the new piano shut:
She could not please herseif

"Then ran she, gamesome as the colt,
And livelier than a lark
She sent her voice thro' all the holt
Before her, and the park.

"A light wind chased her on the wing,
And in the chase grew wild,
As close as might be would he cling
About the darling child:

"But light as any wind that blows
So fleetly did she stir,
The flower, she touch'd on, dipt and rose,
And turn'd to look at her.

"And here she came, and round me play'd,
And sang to me the whole
Of those three stanzas that you made
About my Ôgiant bole;'

"And in a fit of frolic mirth
She strove to span my waist:
Alas, I was so broad of girth,
I could not be embraced.

"I wish'd myself the fair young beech
That here beside me stands,
That round me, clasping each in each,
She might have lock'd her hands.

"Yet seem'd the pressure thrice as sweet
As woodbine's fragile hold,
Or when I feel about my feet
The berried briony fold."

O muffle round thy knees with fern,
And shadow Sumner-chace!
Long may thy topmost branch discern
The roofs of Sumner-place!

But tell me, did she read the name
I carved with many vows
When last with throbbing heart I came
To rest beneath thy boughs?

"O yes, she wander'd round and round
These knotted knees of mine,
And found, and kiss'd the name she found,
And sweetly murmur'd thine.

"A teardrop trembled from its source,
And down my surface crept.
My sense of touch is something coarse,
But I believe she wept.

"Then flush'd her cheek with rosy light,
She glanced across the plain;
But not a creature was in sight:
She kiss'd me once again.

"Her kisses were so close and kind,
That, trust me on my word,
Hard wood I am, and wrinkled rind,
But yet my sap was stirr'd:

"And even into my inmost ring
A pleasure I discern'd,
Like those blind motions of the Spring,
That show the year is turn'd.

"Thrice-happy he that may caress
The ringlet's waving balm---
The cushions of whose touch may press
The maiden's tender palm.

"I, rooted here among the groves
But languidly adjust
My vapid vegetable loves
With anthers and with dust:

"For ah! my friend, the days were brief
Whereof the poets talk,
When that, which breathes within the leaf,
Could slip its bark and walk.

"But could I, as in times foregone,
From spray, and branch, and stem,
Have suck'd and gather'd into one
The life that spreads in them,

"She had not found me so remiss;
But lightly issuing thro',
I would have paid her kiss for kiss,
With usury thereto."

O flourish high, with leafy towers,
And overlook the lea,
Pursue thy loves among the bowers
But leave thou mine to me.

O flourish, hidden deep in fern,
Old oak, I love thee well;
A thousand thanks for what I learn
And what remains to tell.

" ÔTis little more: the day was warm;
At last, tired out with play,
She sank her head upon her arm
And at my feet she lay.

"Her eyelids dropp'd their silken eaves
I breathed upon her eyes
Thro' all the summer of my leaves
A welcome mix'd with sighs.

"I took the swarming sound of life---
The music from the town---
The murmurs of the drum and fife
And lull'd them in my own.

"Sometimes I let a sunbeam slip,
To light her shaded eye;
A second flutter'd round her lip
Like a golden butterfly;

"A third would glimmer on her neck
To make the necklace shine;
Another slid, a sunny fleck,
From head to ankle fine,

"Then close and dark my arms I spread,
And shadow'd all her rest---
Dropt dews upon her golden head,
An acorn in her breast.

"But in a pet she started up,
And pluck'd it out, and drew
My little oakling from the cup,
And flung him in the dew.

"And yet it was a graceful gift---
I felt a pang within
As when I see the woodman lift
His axe to slay my kin.

"I shook him down because he was
The finest on the tree.
He lies beside thee on the grass.
O kiss him once for me.

"O kiss him twice and thrice for me,
That have no lips to kiss,
For never yet was oak on lea
Shall grow so fair as this.'

Step deeper yet in herb and fern,
Look further thro' the chace,
Spread upward till thy boughs discern
The front of Sumner-place.

This fruit of thine by Love is blest,
That but a moment lay
Where fairer fruit of Love may rest
Some happy future day.

I kiss it twice, I kiss it thrice,
The warmth it thence shall win
To riper life may magnetise
The baby-oak within.

But thou, while kingdoms overset,
Or lapse from hand to hand,
Thy leaf shall never fail, nor yet
Thine acorn in the land.

May never saw dismember thee,
Nor wielded axe disjoint,
That art the fairest-spoken tree
From here to Lizard-point.

O rock upon thy towery-top
All throats that gurgle sweet!
All starry culmination drop
Balm-dews to bathe thy feet!

All grass of silky feather grow---
And while he sinks or swells
The full south-breeze around thee blow
The sound of minster bells.

The fat earth feed thy branchy root,
That under deeply strikes!
The northern morning o'er thee shoot,
High up, in silver spikes!

Nor ever lightning char thy grain,
But, rolling as in sleep,
Low thunders bring the mellow rain,
That makes thee broad and deep!

And hear me swear a solemn oath,
That only by thy side
Will I to Olive plight my troth,
And gain her for my bride.

And when my marriage morn may fall,
She, Dryad-like, shall wear
Alternate leaf and acorn-ball
In wreath about her hair.

And I will work in prose and rhyme,
And praise thee more in both
Than bard has honour'd beech or lime,
Or that Thessalian growth,

In which the swarthy ringdove sat,
And mystic sentence spoke;
And more than England honours that,
Thy famous brother-oak,

Wherein the younger Charles abode
Till all the paths were dim,
And far below the Roundhead rode,
And humm'd a surly hymn.

anti-climax - The anti-climax is largely a rhetorical device used to reduce tension and shift the tone to something trivial. Immanel Kant comments the use of an anticlimactic is to ensure incongruity between the ‘something’ of the issue and the ‘nothing’ of the punch line – the sudden switch turns a tense expectation into zilch. In poetry good examples may be found in The Rape of the Lock by the great wit and social satirist, Alexander Pope’s rhyming couplets:

“Shock just had given himself the rousing shake,
And nymphs prepared their chocolate to take.”

“Here thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take and sometimes tea.”

In literature Shaw comments “In a crisis I size up the situation…take a firm grip on myself and always do the wrong thing.”

And Woody Allan’s “not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.”

And yet another from Pope’s An Essay on Man – Epistle 2:

“Go teach eternal wisdom how to rule,
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool.”

This from Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2:

“Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit,
That from her working all visage wann’d,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole fundtion suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!”

This last example is taken from the English Actress Frances Anne 1809-1893 in Love Quotes:

“When late I attempted your pity to move,
What made you so deaf to my prayers?
Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love,
But, why did you kick me down stairs?!

Anti-Jacobin poetry

antithesis - Involves the placing of two expressions in close enough proximity that each strengthens the meaning of the other. Some great examples are:

“My soul; that I may dare in wayfaring,
To stammer here old Chaucer used to sing.” Keats Endymion. Verse VII

“When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme,
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have express'd
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
And for they looked but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.” Shakespeare. Sonnet 106

King Richard:
‘What must the king do now? must he submit?
The king shall do it: must he be deposed?
The king shall be contented: must he lose
The name of king? o' God's name, let it go:
I'll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,
My gay apparel for an almsman's gown,
My figured goblets for a dish of wood,
My sceptre for a palmer's walking staff,
My subjects for a pair of carved saints
And my large kingdom for a little grave,” Shakespeare. Richard II. Act III, Scene 3

“Of colour glorious and effect so rare?
Here matter new to gaze the Devil met
Undazl'd, farr and wide his eye commands,
For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade,
But all Sun-shine, as when his Beams at Noon
Culminate from th' Æquator, as they now
Shot upward still direct, whence no way round
Shadow from body opaque can fall, and the Aire,
No where so cleer, sharp'nd his visual ray
To objects distant farr, whereby he soon
Saw within kenn a glorious Angel stand,
The same whom John saw also in the Sun:
His back was turn’d, but not his brightness hid.” Milton. Paradise Lost. Book III.

“Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea's eye;
Nor where Abassin kings their issue guard,
Mount Amara, though this by some supposed
True Paradise under the Ethiop line
By Nilus' head, enclosed with shining rock,
A whole day's journey high, but wide remote
From this Assyrian garden, where the Fiend
Saw, undelighted, all delight,” Milton. Paradise Lost. Book IV.

”Sleepst thou Companion dear, what sleep can close
Thy eye-lids? and remembrest what Decree
Of yesterday, so late hath past the lips
Of Heav'ns Almightie. Thou to me thy thoughts
Wast wont, I mine to thee was wont to impart;
Both waking we were one; how then can now
Thy sleep dissent? new Laws thou seest impos'd;
New Laws from him who reigns, new minds may raise
In us who serve,
” Milton. Paradise Lost. Book V

“What dire offence from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
I sing — This verse to Caryll, Muse! is due:
This, even Belinda may vouchsafe to view:
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
If she inspire, and he approve my lays.
” Alexander Pope. Rape of the Lock. Canto 1

“Some secret truths from learned pride conceal'd,
To maids alone and children are reveal'd:
What tho' no credit doubting wits may give?
The fair and innocent shall still believe.
Know then, unnumber'd spirits round thee fly,
The light militia of the lower sky;
These, though unseen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the box, and hover round the Ring.” Alexander Pope. Rape of the Lock. Canto I

“What guards the purity of milting maids,
In courtly balls, and midnight masquerades,
Safe from the trech’rous friend, the daring spark,
The glance by day, the whisper in the dark;
When kind occasion prompts warm desires.
When music softens, and when dancing fires.” Pope. Rape of the Lock, Canto I (Heroic-Humor Poem)

“For what but social guilt the friend endears?
Who shares Orgilio's crimes, his fortune shares.
But thou, should tempting villany present
All Marlborough hoarded, or all Villiers spent,
Turn from the glittering bribe thy scornful eye,
Nor sell for gold what gold could never buy
The peaceful slumber, self-approving day,
Unsullied fame, and conscience ever gay.” Johnson. Third Satire of Juvenal

‘In squandering wealth was his peculiar art:
Nothing went unrewarded, but desert.
Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late:
He had his jest, and they had his estate.” Dryden. Absalom and Achitophel

In some cases the antithesis is not contradictory at all but resembles more the oxymoron or paradox. Oxymoron if close together; paradox in far apart. For example:

“I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,
The air was cooling, and so very still,
That the sweet buds which with a modest pride
Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,
Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems,
Had not yet lost those starry diadems
Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.
The clouds were pure and white flocks new shorn,
And fresh from the clear brook; sweetly they slept
On the blue fields of heaven, and then there crept
A little noiseless noise among the leaves
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves.” Keats. I Stood tip-toe upon a Hill

“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage.” Richard Lovelace. To Althea From Prison

aphorisms - This term was first used by Hippocrates as a long series of propositions concerned with medicine ex. “Life is short, Art long.” Years later Charles Colton (1780-1832) wrote Lacon: or Many things in Few Words Addressed to Those who Think. A two volume work with nothing but aphorisms. For example: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Of this statement he writes: “Adroit observers will find, that some who affect to dislike flattery, may yet be flattered indirectly, by a well seasoned abuse and ridicule of their rivals.”

In the preface to the work the English Clergyman, writes about his purpose. “Profundity with perspicuity, with judgment, solidity with vivacity, truth with novelty, and all of them with liberality.” The work fit in well with this era of expounding reasoning, good behavior, virtue, and vice only in the heart. Also see gnomic verse.

apostrophe - The apostrophe closest relative is personification. It’s a figure of speech in which the poet directly addresses an object, a dead or absent person as if actually listening. It emphasizes or express mood and emotion. Most notable examples are:

The Sick Rose Blake;
Ode to the West Wind Shelley;
O Captain! My Captain! Whitman;
Oh, Death, be not proud. John Dunne;
Milton! Thou shoulds’t be living at this hour Wordsworth.

For other person examples there is Ben Jonson’s On Shakespeare:

“Soul of the age!
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!
My Shakespeare rise!”

From Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

“Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here.

Thomas Gray in Progress of Poesy speaks to John Dryden:

“Oh Lyre divine, what daring Spirit
Wakes thee now?”

Speaking to a country, in this case Greece, Byron writes:

“Shrine of the mighty! Can it be
That this is all remains of thee?”

Pope has somewhat weak examples in:

“How instinct varies in the groveling swine,
Compared, half reas’ning elephant, with thine!

And

“O Death, all eloquent! You only prove
What dust we dote on, when ‘tis man we love.”

argumentative progression - In this type of poem a proposal is offered followed by arguments or reasons that support the proposal. John Donne provides us with two examples, the first is from Holy Sonnets: Death be not Proud. He makes his statement about death:

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,...”

then proceeds to give us the reasons supporting the assertion.

“Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”

The second is Valediction Forbidding Mourning, he gives reason using the same pattern “statement followed by supporting reasons” i.e. why “true lovers need not be sad” on the occasion of the separation.

A. E. Housman (1859-1936) varies the format in Terence, This is Stupid Stuff : A Shropshire Lad. In two parts, Housman argues that “beer is better than poetry”... “since life is what it is, trouble cannot be avoided.”

“Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
And train for ill and not for good,
“Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale;...”

Not long ago John McWhorter commented on “it is what it is” calling it “one of the rudest, meanest phrases”...” “brutally vacuuous” not helpful notion about life.

assonance - The repetition of vowel sounds preceded by unlike consonants. For a poet the use of assonance like that of aliteration draws the reader to certain words. Best example would be Tennyson's In Memoriam Stanza L. Note the repetition of the long e in lines 1, 3, and 4:

Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

aubade - From French word probably from Old Pronvencal as a derivative of "alba" meaning dawn. In poetry it may be a lyric poem that greets or laments the arrival of dawn or a brief explanatory stanza than concludes the poem or sends you on your way to read the poem. For an example of lament of the dawn see the first stanza of John Donne's The Sunne Rises:

Busy old fool, unruly Sunne,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late schoolboys, and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

For a more recent example look at Alba by Ezra Pound:

As cool as the pale wet leaves of lily-of-the-valley
She lay beside me in the dawn.

augustan period - This was a literature's classical period of 18th century England (1700-1745) and 17th century France. In England it was the period of the reign of Queen Anne represented by poets Alexander Pope, Johnathan Swift, John Dryden, and Matthew Prior. The name was taken as writers attempted to revive the classical Augustan age with models like the heroics of Homer, Cicero, Virgil, and the satires of Horace. The favorite verse form was the heroic couplet. Some of the genres of this period such as the mock epic, and satire were adaptations of classical forms. For example, Alexander Pope was the master imitator of Homer. Among the best-known mock epic poems of this period are John Dryden's satire MacFlecknoe (1682), and Pope's The Rape of the Lock (1714). The Rape of the Lock is the best example of neo-classic imitative epic poetry. We use the term imitative because the hero hardly rises to the level of Homer's Odysseus. For Pope's hero's the idea of combat is to attempt a boat ride up the Thames, his battle is a card game and the prize of the battle is a lock of hair stolen while the heroine is otherwise distracted.

awdl - A mostly obsolete Welsh form of long ode containing the required alliterative verse and internal rhyme. The awdl or odl (ode) was the commonest form of expression of court poets or Poets of the Princes. It has a number of lines of a particular length, each one keeping up a single rhyme. There was a limit to the number of rhyming possibilities so when a poet wished to write a long poem he would have to combine various awdlau into one poem. He would do this in one of two ways: either by repeating the word ending one awdl to begin the next, a device is known as cymeriad or by repeating the same word or by using a word which alliterates the previous one. Originally there were twenty-four strict meters that bards could use those meters had been reduced to four by the fifteenth century. At one time it was most often awarded the wooden chair (highest honor) by the National Eisteddfod Competition of early Welsh literary history.

awdyl gywydd - A quatrain stanza in seven-syllable lines with internal rhyme or a b c b. Lines two and four rhyme; lines one and three rhyme, as in this example by Tomas ab Ifan ap Rhys:

Mae Duw yn dangos i'r byd
Fod yn llawnbryd gweddio,
A dango (pa na feddwl?)
Lawer exampwl iddo,
I geisio in garu'r Eghwys
A bwrw 'n gorbowys arno.

God to the world doth make it CLEAR
The time is HERE for praying.
By many a plain example STILL
Our feeble WILL assaying,
To love his church, our weight of WRONG
On his STRONG shoulders laying.

In the following awdyl gywydd there is only a single internal rhyme:

Earthsong the sweetest season,
Loud the birdsong, sprouts ripple,
Ploush in furrow, ox in YOKE,
Sea like SMOKE, fields in stipple.

Yet when cuckoos call from TREES
I drink the LEES of sorrow;
Tongue bitter, I sleep with pain
My kinsmen came not again

On mountain, mead, seaborne land,
Wherever man wends his way.
What path he take boots not,
He shall not keep from Christ's eye.

Because Welsh poetry was more a challenge of numerical placement, a craft of alliteration and rhyme and less of vocabulary and theme; it sprung from any place in the community: shepherds, farmers, shop-keepers, teachers, soldiers leading to much mediocrity. In early Welsh history it was the aristocracy that dominated the poetic culture not so later. The Eisteddfod sunk to its lowest level in the late nineteeth century and now is mainly a place for young poets to submit their writings and the awdl is no longer a popular form having yielded to free verse.

Aylshire Poet - References Robert Burns (1759-1796) who was born near the town of Ayr.


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Appendix