M

macaronic verse - Verse which uses a number of languages mixed together. Was originally a technique for nonsense verse but in multicultural societies is being used more for serious effects.

madrigal - In medieval times a song for several voices, often singing contrapuntally.

malapropism - The humorous substitution of one word for another similarly sounding word. Named after Mrs Malaprop, a character depicted with great comic effect in Sheridan’s The Rivals. For example "a progeny of learning" from The Rivals.

Marinism - Using conceit in the creation of metaphors. It was named after Giambattista Marino, a 17th Century Italian poet. (See also conceit, metaphor)

masculine rhyme - A rhyme on an accented final syllable or single syllable word. As in bright and might. (See also feminine rhyme)

maxim - A pithily expressed precept of morality as in de la Rochefoucauld’s Maxims, e.g. no.235: "We easily get over the misfortunes of our friends when they provide us with the opportunity to show our own heartfelt sympathy."

measure - The generic name for the style of metrical foot. (See also metre, foot, rhythm, cadence)

meiosis - (my-OWE-sis) The deliberate use of understatement for effect. It is the antonym of hyperbole as in "I’m just going out now. I may be some time." (See also hyperbole, irony, litotes)

Meistersingers - Members of musicians’ trade guilds in Germany in the 14th to 16th century who studied poetry and singing . There were a number of levels or grades that students passed through called "scholars", "schoolmen", "singers" and "poets" before graduating as Meistersingers.

melic verse - Poetry which can be sung.

mesostich - See acrostic poem

metaphor - A word or phrase applied to an object which belongs to another sphere and which normally would not be applied to the object in question. The purpose is to create an analogy and by doing so to heighten the awareness of the reader. As in Shakespeare’s "All the world’s a stage". In contrast with the simile, the metaphor is an equivalence, not an analogy, i.e. a = b, not a :: b. (See also simile, conceit, extended metaphor, mixed metaphor, kenning)

metaphysical - used to denote poetry or writing which uses metaphor to illustrate spiritual or philosophical insight. (See also imagism, romanticism, symbolism)

metathesis - (met-ATH-uh-sis) The transposition of sounds within a word.

metonymy - The substitution of one noun for another with which it is closely associated. As in, "...the pan boiled" - pan substituting for water. (See also synecdoche)

metre - The way in which the rhythmic structure of a line is measured. The metre is determined by the relationship of the stressed and unstressed syllables in a line, which, when identified in regular groupings called feet, fall into a uniform metre. The number of identifiable feet in any given line is indicated by the following expressions (we include metrical terms for illustrative purposes):

1 foot per line - iambic monometer - as in "I came"

( ,

2 feet per line - anapaestic dimeter - as in "with the flick | of a whipp"

( ( , | ( ( ,

3 feet per line - trochaic trimeter - as in "singing | Peter’s | ppraises

, ( | , ( | , (

4 feet per line - amphibrachic tetrameter - as in "I spring to | the stirrup | and Joris | and he"

( , ( | ( , ( | ( , ( | ( , *

5 feet per line dactylic pentameter - as in "Climbing the | mountain wiith | Sally and | Angela | White."

, ( ( | , ( ( | , ( ( | , ( ( | ,*

6 feet per line - iambic hexameter - as in "He came | in live|ly state | and He | was cru| cified."

( , | ( , | ( , | ( , | ( ,| ( ,

7 feet per line - iambic heptameter - as in "Why did | you kill | the bba|by? It | was in|nocent | of sin."

( , | ( , | ( ,| ( , | ( ,| ( , | ( ,

8 feet per line - iambic octameter - as in "We har|nessed up | the hor|ses know|ing that | the ride | would test | our will"

( , | ( , | ( , | ( , | ( , | ( , | ( , | ( ,

* These two lines are catalectic.

Usually the name given to the metre will identify the type of foot and the number of feet in a line, so for example a line of four iambic feet would be iambic tetrameter. (See also catalectic)

metrical foot - see foot.

metrics - The study of metre in prosody. (See also prosody)

metrist - A poet who writes verse with a strong metre.

Miltonic - Having to do with the poetry of John Milton.

mimesis - The use of sound symbolism and onomatopoeia in a way which realistically represents the subject, as in Walter De la Mares’s "silence surged slowly backward". (See also onomatopoeia, phonetic symbolism, sound devices)

minnesong - The generic term used to describe the poems about courtly love produced by the Minnesingers who were twelfth to fourteenth century German troubadours. (See also courtly love, Meistersingers)

minstrel - An entertainer who sang and recited to a musical accompaniment. Often news was carried in song by travelling minstrels from town to town, though some were in service with noblemen. (See also bard, gleeman, jongleur, Meistersingers, minnesong)

minstrelsy - A group of minstrels, or a collection of their songs.

mixed metaphor - A metaphor the elements of which are incongruous. As in "The flood of people flew along the road." In this example the incongruous elements are "flood" and "flew" which create a contradiction in the image. Replacing "flew" with "flowed" would correct the picture. (See also metaphor, simile)

mock-epic - (see mock-heroic)

mock-heroic - A form of parody. Writing of commonplace subjects in the heroic epic style. An example of this would be Pope’s The Rape of the Lock. Sometimes referred to as mock-epic.

modulation - Modulation occurs in the process of reciting poetry where readers alter the stress and pitch of their voices to bring out the metrical pattern of the piece. The poet needs to consider the accent values which will create a regular metrical pattern in a piece. It is also a feature used when writing dialogue to help individual characters’ voices to emerge.

molossus - A foot of three long syllables ( , , , ). Was used in Latin verse.

monody - A personal perspective in which the death of another is lamented. (See also elegy, epitaph)

monometer - A line of verse which is one metrical foot in length. (See also metre, dipody)

monorhyme - A poem in which all the lines have the same end rhyme. (See also ghazal)

monostich - A poem consisting of a single metrical line. (See also epigram)

monosyllable - A word of one syllable. (See also disyllable, polysyllable, trisyllable)

mora - The unit of measurement in quantitive verse, equivalent to the timing of a short syllable ( ( ). Two morae are equivalent in time to a long syllable ( ( + ( = , ). (See also quantitive verse)

mosaic rhyme - A rhyme in which two words make a rhyme with one other longer word or with two others. As in " ...band, look." / in his handbook."

motif - Recurring thematic element in a piece of written work. (See also theme, burden)

Muse - Source of inspiration. Some writers have referred to individuals as being their Muse, while others talk of places in this respect. In Greek mythology the nine Muses were the daughters of Zeus who each brought creativity to arts and sciences with which they were associated. (See also afflatus)