So, in an effort to educate, entertain, and inform, I present the beginner's guide to poetry:
- Assonance is repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, for example:
That solitude which suits abstruser musings - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- Alliteration is the repetition of the first consonant sound in a phrase; it was very popular in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic poetry. For example:
He aerest sceop aelda bearnum
Heofon to hrofe Halig Scyppend
~ Caedmon's Hymn
- A caesura is an audible pause or break in a line of poetry (used in Greek, Latin, French, Old English and Middle English poetry), for example in the opening line of Beowulf:
Hwæt! we Gar-Dena || on geardagum
- Consonance is like assonance but involves the repetition of consonants instead of vowels, as in "zig-zag" or "pitter-patter".
- Haiku is a Japanese form with 5-7-5 syllables, and includes a kireji (cutting word) and a kigo (season-related expression); in scifaiku the kigo is replaced by an SF-related concept.
- Metaphor is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects; for example:
My love is like a red red rose. (Burns)Metaphors can be distinguished from other closely related rhetorical concepts such as metonym, synecdoche, simile, allegory and parable.
- Then there's metre. At this point, we require a little assistance from a certain Mr Coleridge - take it away, Sam:
Trochee trips from long to short;˘ = short syllable,
From long to long in solemn sort
Slow Spondee stalks, strong foot!, yet ill able
Ever to come up with Dactyl's trisyllable.
Iambics march from short to long.
With a leap and a bound the swift Anapests throng.
One syllable long, with one short at each side,
Amphibrachys hastes with a stately stride --
First and last being long, middle short, Amphimacer
Strikes his thundering hoofs like a proud high-bred Racer.
If Derwent be innocent, steady, and wise,
And delight in the things of earth, water, and skies;
Tender warmth at his heart, with these meters to show it,
WIth sound sense in his brains, may make Derwent a poet --
May crown him with fame, and must win him the love
Of his father on earth and his father above.
My dear, dear child!
Could you stand upon Skiddaw, you would not from its whole ridge
See a man who so loves you as your fond S.T. Colerige.
¯ = long syllable
(macron and breve notation)
˘ ˘ pyrrhus, dibrach ˘ ¯ iamb ¯ ˘ trochee, choree ¯ ¯ spondee ˘ ˘ ˘ tribrach ¯ ˘ ˘ dactyl ˘ ¯ ˘ amphibrach ˘ ˘ ¯ anapest, antidactylus ˘ ¯ ¯ bacchius ¯ ¯ ˘ antibacchius ¯ ˘ ¯ cretic, amphimacer ¯ ¯ ¯ molossus
- There are many poetic forms (types of poem with specific rhyme schemes and metres):
- Rhyme is much more complex than you might think:
- masculine: a rhyme in which the stress is on the final syllable of the words. (rhyme, sublime, crime)
- feminine: a rhyme in which the stress is on the penultimate (second from last) syllable of the words. (picky, tricky, sticky, icky)
- dactylic: a rhyme in which the stress is on the antepenultimate (third from last) syllable ('cacophonies", "Aristophanes")
In the general sense, "rhyme" can refer to various kinds of phonetic similarity between words, and to the use of such similar-sounding words in organizing verse. Rhymes in this general sense are classified according to the degree and manner of the phonetic similarity:
- syllabic: a rhyme in which the last syllable of each word sounds the same but does not necessarily contain vowels. (cleaver, silver, or pitter, patter)
- imperfect: a rhyme between a stressed and an unstressed syllable. (wing, caring)
- semirhyme: a rhyme with an extra syllable on one word. (bend, ending)
- oblique (or slant): a rhyme with an imperfect match in sound. (green, fiend)
- half rhyme (or sprung rhyme): matching final consonants. (bent, ant)
- Rhyme schemes are also important; let us fly free from the tedious imprisonment of AABB and discover the joys of Chant royal, Clerihew, Sestina, Terza rima, and many more. Here's an example of the sonnet form: Wyatt's Farewell Love and all thy laws for ever.
All of which reminds me that I am only scratching the surface with my poetic technique; but at least I am aware of these things. You cannot break the rules of a craft or art without first knowing how to work within them.