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Course Study Material

Elements of Poetry

Course Material Questions and Answers Review Students currently taking classes: 8
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  • The rhythm of a poem is determined by:

    Stressed and unstressed syllables

    Rationale: Rhythm is the measured flow of words, or phrases, determined by the relation of stressed and unstressed or long and short syllables. As an example, from the musical "My Fair Lady," think of how these words are stressed: "The RAIN in SPAIN falls MAINLY on the PLAIN." Rhythm is commonly used to direct pronounciation and to direct focus to specific words.

  • Ryhme occurs when two words have similar sounds, such as:


    Rationale: Rhyme is the correspondence, or similarity of sound, between words or the ending of words, typically used at the ends of lines of poetry. The nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffett," is an excellent example. To quote: "Little Miss Muffet Sat on a tuffet, Eating her curds and whey; Along came a spider, Who sat down beside her And frightened Miss Muffet away."

  • Similes compare things; for example:

    Her eyes are as blue as the sky.

    Rationale: A simile is a comparison between two different things, using the words “like” or “as.” For example, a common saying is: "I'm as hungry as a horse!" indicating that a person is so hungry they could eat as much as a horse eats.

  • A metaphor is a way to describe things:

    The bull is an oncoming train.

    Rationale: A metaphor describes something by asserting that it is the same as an otherwise unrelated object or idea. This commonly known Shakespeare saying demonstrates a metaphor: "The entire world’s a stage."

  • A common technique for comparison used in poetry, personification, is demonstrated by the following:

    The book demanded to be read.

    Rationale: Personification gives human qualities to nonliving objects. As an example: "He had a temper like a ticking time bomb." This compares the human quality of anger to a nonliving object.

  • Alliteration describes repeating sounds, like this:

    Sarah spoke with strange syllables.

    Rationale: Alliteration is the repetition of a sound in the first syllables of a series of words or phrases. As an example, think of the common tongue twister: "She sells sea shells down by the sea shore." This repeats "she..." words, as well as "se..." words.

  • Repetitive vowel sounds are demonstrated by this phrase:

    Yellow wedding bells.

    Rationale: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds within a phrase. Edgar Allan Poe, the famous author, commonly used assonance. In his poem "The Bells," the repeated sound of 'e's demonstrates assonance: "Hear the mellow wedding bells..."

  • Consonance is a common poetry element, and shows in the following:

    Red roses.

    Rationale: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds, twice or more, within a phrase. Examples are: "pitter patter," or "buckets of big blue berries."

  • The use of exaggeration in both in poetry every day speaking, is quite common. For an example:

    I carry a ton of books to class.

    Rationale: Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration to evoke strong feelings or communicate a point, but is not meant to be taken literally. A common hyperbole is "I've told you a million times!"

  • Onomatopoeia is a fun and thought provoking element in writing and poetry. Think about the following word:


    Rationale: Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the source of the sound it describes. Common examples include: sizzle, clang, cuckoo.

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