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Poetic Elements

Poetic Elements

When reading poetry, there are a number of basic elements to consider, some very clear from a first reading and others that require a more in-depth analysis. The form of the poem is something readers often notice first; this usually manifests as lyric poetry, a narrative poem, or a descriptive poem. Poems are often broken down into stanzas, or groups of line bundled together; stanzas vary based on their number of lines, and can be couplets, quatrains, or octaves, for example.

The sound of a poem is also another element that readers pick up on easily. This includes such elements as rhyme scheme, meter, and word sounds. Rhymes are something readers come to expect in poetry; these can be internal rhymes, or rhymes within a line, or end rhymes, which occur at the end of multiple lines. Meter refers to the rhythm or "beat" of the poem; the meter is often broken into feet, or individual units. Feet are differentiated from one another by their pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.

Finally, readers often pick up on word sounds as they consider poetry in greater depth. The variations in the emphasis on different sounds and words can add new layers of meaning to a poem. Such elements can include alliteration, or the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of multiple words; assonance, or the repetition of vowel sounds; consonance, or the repetition of consonant sounds; onomatopoeia, or words that describe the sounds they make; repetition, which can include individual words, small phrases, or entire lines; and parallel structure, wherein the order of words is repeated for dramatic effect. While these are just some of the various elements that can be included in poetry, they all provide a greater level of depth and meaning for the reader as they become increasingly familiar with poetry and its analysis.

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