D

dactyl - A metrical foot of three syllables, one long followed by two short ( , ( ( ). (See also metre)

dactylic - The adjective from the word dactyl. (See also dactyl)

dactylic dimeter - A line consisting of two dactyls ( , ( ( | , ( ( ).

Dada - An arts movement 1915-20. Artists and writers abandoned arts and literature conventions in an attempt to shock.

decameter - A line of ten metrical feet.

decasyllable - A line of ten syllables, or poem which is constructed from lines which have ten syllables. (See also dodecasyllable, syllable)

denotation - The literal meaning of a word, its dictionary definition or definitions. (See also connotation, ambiguity)

dénouement – After the climax in a prose or poetry narrative, this is the tying-up of loose ends (e.g. the protagonist gets his girl and the antagonist is arrested - literally the opposite meaning in French: "the untying or loosening of a knot"). In Shakespeare’s Othello the crisis is the eponym’s decision to kill his wife; the climax is reached when he discovers Iago has deceived him; and the dénouement occurs when Othello commits suicide and Iago is condemned. (See also crisis, climax)

diacope – (die-A-cop-ee) The repetition of a word three times in succession. (See also epizeuxis)

diaeressis - (die-UH-ruh-sis) Relates to the pronunciation of two vowels which are adjacent in a word but which have a distinct pronunciation. The word is also used to describe two dots placed to indicate that such a pronunciation is appropriate, as in "naïve".

diamb - A metrical foot of four syllables which are two iambs ( ( , ( , ).

dibrach - (DIE-brak) A metrical foot consisting or two short syllables, also called a pyrrhus ( ( ( ). (See also pyrrhus)

diction - A function of the voice in poetry or prose which determines the choice of words, and the structure, choice and arrangement of words bearing the distinctive "signature" of the writer.

dictum - A saying that often claims some authority, for example Polonius’ advice to Laertes:

  • Never a borrower or a lender be;

    For loan oft loses both itself and friend

    And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

  • (See also maxim, adage, aphorism)

    didactic poetry - This is a term used to describe a specific category of poetry, namely which is intended to teach or pass on some knowledge. It is the poet’s intention to pass on knowledge which distinguishes didactic poetry. It is one of the main groups of poetry, the others being lyric, narrative and dramatic. (See also fables, allegories, aphorisms, proverbs)

    dimeter - (DIM-i-tuh) A line in a poem made from two metrical feet.

    Dionysian - (die-uh-NIGH-syahn) See under Appollonian

    dipody - (r) (DIP-uh-dee) This occurs when the metre is very strong and two metrical feet are scanned as one.

    dirge - A poem about or highlighting grief caused by loss. Often intended to be read at a funeral. (See also elegy)

    dispondee - A double spondee, a metrical foot of four long syllables ( , , , , ). (See also spondee)

    dissonance - Harsh sounds, used for effect. (See also cacophony)

    distich - Two lines of verse which are complete in meaning. A rhyming distich is referred to as a couplet. (See also couplet)

    disyllable - A word made from two syllables. (See also monosyllable, trisyllable, polysyllable )

    disyllabic rhyme - Describes the rhyme which is formed when the two end syllables of words have the same rhyming sound, as in county and Mountie. Also called a double rhyme.

    dithyramb - Very wild poem of Dionysian quality. Much of Swinburne and Blake is dithyrambic.

    ditty - A short sung poem.

    divine afflatus - The divine creative inspiration of a poet. Often called afflatus. (See also Muse)

    dochmius - A metrical foot of five syllables, the first and fourth are short syllables while the others are long as in "sanctuary priestess" ( ( , , ( , ).

    dodecasyllable - A line of twelve syllables. (See also decasyllable, hendecasyllable)

    doggerel - Badly written poetry. Lacking depth or skill and ragged in metre.

    double ballade - A poetic form of six stanzas (the ballade has only three stanzas) each of seven or eight lines, with no more than three repeating rhymes, each stanza ending with a repeated refrain. (See also stanzas, envoi, ballade)

    double dactyl - A six-syllable foot where the first and fourth syllable are long and the others short. This is also used occasionally to refer to dactylic dimeter, which is a line composed of two dactyls ( , ( ( , ( ( ). (See also dactylic dimeter)

    double rhyme - See disyllabic rhyme.

    dramatic - The adjective comes from drama, in which works are designed to be presented on stage.

    dramatic monologue - Lengthy uninterrupted speech by a single character, revealing some dramatic twist or inner conflict. (See also soliloquy)

    dramatic poem - One of the four main poetry groups, the others being didactic, lyric and narrative. Describes the poems which tell a dramatic story, either about a character or incident.

    dysphemism - (r) The introduction of an offensive word or phrase in place of an inoffensive one.