Glossary of Literary Terms
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echo: A reference that recalls a word, phrase, or sound in another text. For example, "And indeed there will be time" in Eliot´s "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1917) recalls both Ecclesiastes 3.1 ("To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven") and Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress" (1681; "Had we but world enough and time"). It is less specific than an allusion.
elegy: In classical times, any poem on any subject written in "elegiac" meter (dactylic couplets comprising a hexameter followed by a pentameter line), but since the Renaissance usually a formal lament for the death of a particular person. For example, see W. H. Auden, "In Memory of W. B. Yeats" (1940).
end stop: A line break that coincides with the end of the sentence (vs. a run-on line; compare enjambment).
English sonnet: Three four-line stanzas and a couplet, rhymed abab cdcd efef gg. For example, see William Shakespeare, Sonnet 146 (1609; "Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth").
enjambment: The use of a line that "runs on" to the next line, without pause, to complete its grammatical sense (compare end stop). For example, see Gwendolyn Brooks, "We Real Cool" (1960).
epic: A long poem, in a continuous narrative often divided into "books," on a great or serious subject. Traditionally, it celebrates the achievements of mighty heroes and heroines, using elevated language and a grand, high style (e.g., Homer´s Iliad), but later epics have been more personal (e.g., William Wordsworth´s Prelude [1805 / 1850]) and less formal in structure (e.g., H. D. ´s Helen in Egypt ).
epigram: Originally any poem carved in stone (on tombstones, buildings, gates, etc.), but in modern usage a very short, usually witty verse with a quick turn at the end (e.g., much of the light verse of Ogden Nash).
extended metaphors: Detailed and complex metaphors that extend over a long section of a poem (e.g., the metaphor of grass in Whitman´s "Song of Myself" , section 6 or of the compass in Donne´s "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning").