A Quick Introduction to Some Technical Elements of Poetry


Types of Poetry Classification Systems:


Types of Stanzas:

Stanza or Verse -- two or more lines grouped together / four lines grouped together is most common


Reading Lines of Poetry:


The Sounds of Poetry:

1.) Rhyme – a similarity of sound.

2.) Alliteration – the repetition of the same sounding letters, and the letters are consonants. Or, the repetition of initial identical consonant sounds or any vowel sounds in successive or closely associated syllables, especially stressed syllables. . . . Alliteration, limited to "onsets," which are mostly consonants, seems to dwell in the ear for a much shorter time than rhyme, which involves both vowels and consonants and seems to stay in the memory over a period of thirty or more syllables.

3.) Assonance – the repetition of vowel sounds within a phrase. Or, generally, the patterning of vowel sounds without regard to consonants. . . . Assonance sometimes refers to same or similar vowel sounds in stressed syllables that end with different consonant sounds. Assonance differs from rhyme in that rhyme typically involves both vowel and consonant sounds. "Lake" and "fake" demonstrate full rhyme; "lake" and "fate" assonance.

4.) Consonance -- the relation between words in which the final consonants in the stressed syllables agree but the vowels that precede them differ, such as "add-read," "mill-ball," and "torn-burn." In view of the vagaries attending the ways in which vowels are pronounced and spelled, most so-called eye rhymes (such as "word-lord" or "blood-food-good" are instances of consonance.

5.) Onomatopoeia – using a word that “sounds” like the noise it describes (e.g. buzz, whack, hiss, sizzle, etc.).


The Rhythm of Poetry:

Rhythm – “the rhythm of a poem is built on the sound of words”

Scansion – a method of analyzing a poem by marking the pattern of accents in a line of poetry

Foot – one unit of the rhythmic pattern that makes up the meter

Meter – the pattern set up by the regular rhythm of words in a poem


(Adapted from Charters/Charters, Literature and Its Writers, Compact Second Edition, Chapters 8-11, and A Handbook to Literature, 9th edition.)