Literary Elements and Devices in Poetry and Literature: Terminology and Examples
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Literary Elements of Poetry and Literature
A perpetual list of literary elements - will continue to evolve and grow
- Denotation - The dictionary meaning of a word. For example, Greg is thin. thin = slender
- Connotation - A secondary meaning of a word - with tone and attitude. Example, Greg is scrawny. scrawny = skinny, wimpy, weak
- Tone - The author's attitude emerges through the text
- Mood - The reader's feelings provoked by reading the text
- Imagery - Words which create visual or sensory images in the reader's mind
- Alliteration - The repetition of the SAME beginning sound in several words of a poem. For example, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers..."
- Assonance - The repetition of vowel sounds at the beginning or middle of a poem. For example,"Go low and slow, Below the ridge..."
- Allusion - A reference to characters or situations from other well known texts. For example, "To be or not to be, said the honey bee"
- Symbolism - Something that represents something else. For example, The "emerald ghost" in Emily Dickinson's Nature XXVI - symbolizes the approaching storm
- Oxymoron - A figure of speech that joins together two seemingly contradictory elements. For example, "Here with you in the bright light - we climbed the hill, Here with you in the darkest light - we keep our movements still"The oxymoron is darkest light.
- Rhyme - The last word in the poem rhymes - sounds the same. For example, you, too, blue, stew, blew, crew...
- Limerick - A fixed stanza with FIVE lines - usually lighthearted and direct with plenty of rhyme and rhythm. For example, A Limerick by Edward Lear -
There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, 'It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!'
- Meter - A way of placing emphasis on words and syllables that create a repetitive rhyme and rhythm
- Hyperbole - An exaggeration. For example, "If I don't give this kiss I will die!"
- Simile - Comparison of two similar and/or unlike things - uses LIKE or AS. For example, As strong as an ox, thin as a rail, fame is like a bee
- Metaphor - Comparison of two similar and/or unlike things - does NOT use LIKE or AS. For example,He is an ox, she is a rail, fame is a bee
- Onomatopoeia - This refers to the sound a person, animal or object makes. Examples are; ZAP! Pop! Smack, sizzle, gurgle, plop, splash, buzz, whoosh
- Personification/Anthropomorphism - When an object is given human-like qualities. For example, The leaves raced across the lawn with the children. The tornado flicked pirouettes across the land. Note - Although anthropomorphism is personification it is predominantly used with forces of nature such as wind, fire and rain. The term anthropomorphism comes from Greek literature and is common in mythology - particularly gods and deities.
- Polysyndeton - The use of several conjunctions. For example, ...and swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps
- Pun - A play on words. Using the initial meaning to emphasize another. For example, Corduroy pillows are making headlines, The optometrist made a spectacle of himself.
- Idioms - An expression that is not translated literally but represents something else. For example, Bury the hatchet, the cold shoulder, kick the bucket, tie the knot, foot the bill... click here for a list of angry idioms or here for happy idioms.
Alliteration: Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers
Feel free to suggest additional terminology - examples would be great too!
MissOlive Education hubs include;
- Happy Idioms
- Angry Idioms
- Teaching Tone and Mood
- Vocabulary Development and Context Clues
- Teaching and Understanding Voice in Reading and Writing
- Bio Poems - Transitioning from Reading to Writing
- Conflict in Literature - Internal and External
- How to Make Education Videos on a MAC #1
MissOlive Hubs are authored by, marisa hammond olivares, copyright 2011
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