tanka - Japanese poetry form of five lines with a total of thirty-one syllables in this order. First line - 5; second line - 7; third line - 5; fourth line - 7; fifth line - 7. Both Adelaide Crapsey and Emily Dickinson wrote in this form. Ex. Japanese 6th century:
Auden altered the form by substituting the number of words in each line for the number of words per line. As in this example. For Friends Only:
tautology - In a word, redundancy. A more precise definition would be to employ two or more words or phrases for one and the same meaning in the same sentence. For example:
“In the Attic Commonwealth, it was the privilege and birthright of every citizen and poet, to rail aloud and in public. Or to expose upon the stage by name any person they pleased, though of the greatest figure, whether a Creon, an Hyperbolus, an Alcibiades, or a Demosthenes: but on the other side, the least reflecting word let fall against the people in general, was immediately caught up, and revenged upon the authors, however considerable for their quality or their merits.” Jonathan Swift Tale of the Tub – The Preface
Another with apologies to himself, Archishop of Canterbury and for models of correct pulpit style. For you to find:
“It is hard to personate and act a part long; for where truth is not at the bottom, nature will always be endeavouring to return, and will peep out and betray herself one time or other. Therefore, if any man think it convienient to seem good, let him be so indeed, and then his goodness will appear to everybody’s satisfaction…it is much the plainer and easier, much the safer and more secure way of dealing in the world; it has less trouble and difficulty, of entanglement and perplexity, of danger and hazard in it; it is the shortest and nearest way…The arts of deceit and cunning…” John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury Sermon on The Reasonableness of a Resurrection
“Ideas quickly fade and often vanish quite out of the understanding, leaving no more footsteps or remaining characters of themselves than shadows do flying over a field of corn…Pictures drawn in our mind are laid in fading colours, and unless sometimes refreshed, vanish and disappear…Man, tho’ he have great variety of thoughts, and such from which others, as well as himself, might receive profit and delight…yet they are all within his own breast, invisible and hidden from others…” John Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding
“It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life to be rather driven by the fear of evil than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure without hope of praise; to be disgraced by mis-applause and diligence without reward.” Samuel Johnson Dictionary of the English Language – Preface
“The blueness of the aether was exceedingly heightened and enlivened by the season of the year.” Joseph Addison A Letter from Italy
tercet - A three line stanza may be grouped to create a longer verse. Ex. Percy Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind:
terza-rima - An Italian verse form consisting of three-line stanzas of tercets where the second line of each rhymes with the first and third lines of the second. Thus aba, bcb, cdc, ded…and so on. In English poems the choice of meter is usually iambic pentameter. Most of 19th century Romantics wrote selections in this form. Later poets like W. H. Auden, in his long dramatic monologue The Sea and the Mirror (1944), and the Modernist, Archibald MacLeish deviated from the strictest form. In Conquistador (1932) see Ode to the West Wind Percy Bysshe Shelley.
tetrameter - A measured line with four feet. Ex. A. E. Housman Eight O’Clock
topos - A motif that is recurring in prose and poetry such as mythological figures and myths, biblical events.
tone - In poetry it is the writer’s attitude toward the subject , the writer does this through the use of emotional words. In drama the reader has the added advantage of the actor’s voice with the influence of prosody to help the audience grasp the emotion of the words. In literature, characters offer their own emotional attitudes through actions and words. In poetry one cannot really hope to grasp the message unless he is able to identify the emotion behind the words. Is it cheerful, depressing, mocking, irreverent, excited, mournful? Clues are established through imagery, metaphor, irony, understatement, rhythm, connotation, onomatopoeia. Tone is the “individual intensity of insight and feeling” through the use of connotative words. Read this example:
Tone as a device is particularly effective when the subject is singular. The suggestion for determining “tone” is careful reading – every word is important. Since the era of Descartes western philosophy continues to be predominantly dualistic, so some writers favor contrasts as a way of establishing tone.
In the following example the poet chose truth/lies as contrast. Interesting how he uses the phrase “and yet” to signify a change:
Our last one compares different kinds of “love and is an another example of “tone shift:”
Notice that the subjects of the examples are singular.
Tottel’s Miscellany - In 1557 Richad Tottel, working from his shop at Temple Bar on Fleet Street in London, broke from publishing works on Law and Law Practice to produce the first collection of English poetry. A milestone in that poems of English poets were now available to the general public. The full title reads Songs and Sonettes written by the Ryght Honorable Lord Henry Howard, late Earle of Surrey, Thomas Wyatt the Elder and others.
trimeter - A three foot line. Ex. Robert Frost. Rose Pogonias:
triolet - Taken from middle-French, clover leaf. This is a French verse form of eight lines in which the first is repeated as the fourth and seventh and the second as the eighth. Thus the first line is repeated three times. The rhyme scheme is ABa, Aab, AB. Invented in the 13th century as a favorite of Jean Froissart, and Adenet le Roi, in the 17th century by Jan de la Fontaine. And in the 19th century by Alphonse Daudet. Later. The German poet, Frederich Rassmann, identified three types of triolet: the original; a second type with loose use of number of rhymes and lines, and another which is best described as a single strophe. A good example of the English triolet is Thomas Hardy’s Birds at Winter:
Rose Crossed the Road
Triton - From Greek mythology the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. He is usually described as living in a golden palace in the sea. Represented as a man in the upper body with a lower body terminating in a dolphin’s tail. Source The World is too much with me Wordsworth
trochee - From the Greek “τρόγoζ” or wheel probably meaning rolling. It is the reverse of the iamb one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one. Ex. William Blake The Tyger.
trope - See metaphor. The trope is a substitution of one thing for another based on three categories. The first is based on resemblance which may be assumed, implied, or stated (positive, negative, or by degrees) called the “metaphor” the comparison and thing compared only one object is named, thus one in terms of the other. Thus instead of writing “sun” in its place “eye of heaven” assuming the connection between sun and the eye of heaven.
The Trope in Poetry
A poetic creation does not grow by metrical law alone it must have style It is poetic style that makes the poem agreeable to the ear; pleasurable to the mind; and vivid to the eye. The poet achieves these three elements through the trope which is simply “a substitution of one thing for another.” In making a choice the poet may opt for tropes of resemblance as in a metaphor or simile. The poet may offer the metaphor in an assumed or implied manner while his choice of simile may occur as a stated positive, negative, or comparative. Of a lesser nature are tropes of connection, whether logical as in metonomy or spatial as in synecdoche. If the trope is of great length it is noted as allegory.
The word “metaphor” is from the Greek meaning “transfer to a new sense”. It is considered to be the top of the line of tropes in that only the comparison is named. When both are named we have a simile accompanied by the words “like” or “as”. Thus we have for the sun, “as the eye of heaven”; for stars, “like blessed candles of the night”.
One can find examples from all literary periods.
From Old French this rondel The Wanderer 1872
From Dry Loaf by Wallace Stephens 1923
From Her Feet Robert Herrick
From John Donne
From Sir Walter Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel
And from another Scottish poet John Leyden
Very early in the 17th century the metaphysical poets spoke of “man” metaphorically for ex. “man’s life to a flower” and “man” to The Pulley from George Herbert. Henry Vaughan’s didactic Man is compared with “bees” “birds” “flowers”.
The metaphor need not be a couplet, quatrain or single line. There are some fine poetry where the metaphor is carried that the full extent of the work as in Andrew Marvell’s The Garden. Here “the man in the garden is a metaphor for the Neo-Platonic concept of the ‘great chain of being’” and occurs through all nine stanzas.
Not all tropes are equal in quality and when the trope is unsupported by imagination the poet’s style is damaged, the poem is injured, and the reader is left perplexed. This not so rare event is called catachresis – meaning a literal impossibility. As in “The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day” W.H. Auden
The trope defeats the purpose of the poem when the choice is either too familiar or too remote; too scholastic or too plebian or too elegant or too gross;
Here the poet assumes readers know that “the star of Jove” is one of the five wandering planets (Jove/Zeus).
From George Herbert’s Jordan where “Curling with metaphors, a plain intention” where the sense itself is “a finely curled metaphor”.
Or when the trope is marred over time and becomes overused, mechanical or distorted.
For example: “the Iron Horse” for a train and memorialized by Emily Dickinson:
Another fault of the trope is when it is debased by vulgarity or by overuse:
Brooks may chatter in poetry but more often across a “myriad of water-lilies” as in a Monet painting.
William Browne (1591-1643) of the Spenserian school of pastoral poets questions the strength of his own tropes within the verse itself as in Britannia’s Pastorals
Or finally the writer has opted for rhyme over reason:
We close with this quotation from Alexander Pope in Essay on Criticism, 1711