haibun - A form which contains a short section of prose followed by a haiku and which expresses or illustrates an aspect of the prose. (See also haiku)

haiku - In form it is usually expressed as three lines of 5, 7, 5 syllables. But more important is the focus on a moment, showing the influence of Zen Buddhism. Haikus usually contain a word which helps anchor them in a season As in:

  • Blossom trees in pink

    Neon illumination

    Lighten the way home.

    (Jim Bennett, from Drums at New Brighton)

  • (See also tanka, haibun, senryu)

    half rhyme – This occurs when two syllables nearly match as in curse and source. Also known as approximate, slant, imperfect and oblique rhyme. (See also apocopated, near rhyme)

    hamartia - (ham-ART-yuh) A tragic hero’s defect of character which leads to his downfall. Sometimes called the "fatal flaw". This could be some minor trait like a tendency towards overconfidence, which when emerging at the wrong moment brings about the character’s defeat.

    Helicon - The home of the Muses used as a reference or allusion to the inspiration of a poet. (See also Muse, divine afflatus)

    hemistich - A short line of poetry, about half the length of longer lines in a poem. Often used for dramatic dialogue. (See also stich, monostitch, distich)

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

    hendiadys - (hen-DYE-a-dis) A single complex notion expressed by two words which are joined by a conjunction, as in nice and warm, meaning nicely warm.

    heptameter - A line of verse which consists of seven feet. Also called septenarius. When the line is iambic it is called a fourteener.

    heroic couplet - Two lines of rhymed poetry which are in iambic pentameter. Used in some of the epic poems of the 18th century, thus earning the epithet "heroic"; however, the structure tends to be monotonous and poets writing in the style introduce caesuras to beef up the rhythm. (See also distich, closed couplet, open couplet)

    heroic quatrain - Often called heroic verse and sometimes referred to as the elegiac stanza, it was once the most popular form of epic verse. The quatrain consists of a pair of heroic couplets. (See also quatrain, heroic couplet)

    heterometric – Using diverse metres. (See stanza)

    heteronym - Words which have the same spelling but which are different in pronunciation and meaning are heteronyms, as in to sow seed, and a sow and her piglets. (See also homonym)

    hexameter - A line of six metrical feet. Called an alexandrine when it is iambic. (See also iambic, trochaic)

    homograph - Occurs when two words have the same spelling but are different in pronunciation and

    meaning. As in bow and arrow, and the bow of a ship. (See also homonym, heteronym)

    homonym - Occurs when two words have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings. As in bark (part of a tree) and bark (the sound a dog makes). Frequently used as a poetic device. (See also homograph, heteronym)

    Horatian ode - An ode in the style of the Roman poet Horace. Uniform stanzas with an elaborate metrical system and rhyme scheme. Called an aeolic ode by the Greeks.

    hovering accent - Occurs in two adjacent syllables whose stress is indeterminate as in Tennyson’s "There is | sweet music | here... " It can provoke a languorous effect. (See also spondee, sprung rhyme)

    Hudibrastic verse - A poem written in octosyllabic couplets in a style similar to that of Hudibras by Samuel Butler, which was a humorous parody of an heroic epic. (See also burlesque, parody, satire)

    hymn - A song or ode of praise. Usually addressed to a deity but may be to an abstract concept such as truth or life. (See also paean)

    hypallage - (r) (high-PAL-uh-jee) The exchange of two elements in a sentence which alter the logical arrangement. As in "to catch the bus each evening" changed to "to each evening catch the bus." This sort of inversion is to be avoided as it alters the grammatical structure of the sentence and makes any rhyme discovered in this way weak and contrived. (See also anastrophe, chiasmus)

    hyperbaton - (high-PER-buh-tuhn) A figure of speech falling into the category of word order. Re-arrangement of the word order to obtain a poetic effect as in "Into the woods he fled." Can be a single word moved from where it would be expected or words reversed in order or substituted. Also referred to as hysteron proteron. (See also figure of speech)

    hyperbole - (high-PER-buh-lee) A deliberate overstatement for effect. As in "I’d give all the tea in China for a cup of Assam tea." (See also adynaton)

    hypercatalectic - An additional syllable after the final complete foot in a line of verse as in "To be or not to be, that is the question" where the metre is iambic pentameter with an extra short syllable. (See also anacrusis, catalectic, hypermetrical, hypercatalectic)

    hypermetrical - Used to describe a line of poetry which has an additional syllable(s) which fall outside the metrical pattern of the whole. (See also anacrusis, atalectic, hypercatalectic)

    hysteron proteron - (HISS-tuh-ruhn PROE-tuh-ruhn) A figure of speech which is a form of hyperbaton. It describes the action of reversing the natural order of things, putting what you would expect first at the end. It means "later-earlier"