Sapphic verse - Called after the Greek poet Sappho, who wrote in this form. In Sapphic verse the line is eleven syllables grouped in five feet; the first, fourth and fifth are trochees, the second a spondee, and the third a dactyl ( , ( | , , | , ( ( | , ( | , ( ). The Sapphic strophe consists of three Sapphic lines followed by an Adonic. (See also Horatian ode, ode, Pindaric verse, Adonic verse)

satire - A piece or writing which ridicules human folly. Usually written as a piece of humour but often with an underlying anger and bitterness. (See also burlesque, Hudibrastic verse, lampoon, parody)

scan - The process of marking off lines of poetry into metrical units. When one says of verse that "it scans", one simply means that the metre is consistent.

scansion - An analysis of line rhythms by scanning the lines to determine the rhythm of the poem. An important part of the preparation to read a poem, as stressing unintended words may result in a loss of rhythm or an ambiguity. Without guidance the interpretation of the rhythm through scansion becomes a subjective process.

scop - Old English poet or troubadour. (See also troubadour, gleeman)

senryu - A 17-syllable poem in the Japanese tradition of Haiku, laid out in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, but dealing with human nature. (See also haiku, tanka)

sense pause - See caesura.

septenarius - A verse of seven feet. (See also fourteener, heptameter, poulter's measure)

septet - A stanza consisting of seven lines.

sequence - A cycle of poems. A number of poems written to illustrate aspects of the same theme. (See also cycle)

serenade - An evening song, sung to a lover. (See also aubade)

serpentine verses - Poems that end with the same word which starts them.

sestet - A six-line stanza. Used to identify the last six lines of some sonnets. (See also sonnet)

sestina - A form consisting of six six-line stanzas. The end-words of the first stanza recur as end-words of the following five stanzas in a rotating order and as the middle and end-words of each of the lines of a concluding envoi in the form of a tercet. The usual ending word order for a sestina is as follows:

  • First stanza: 1- 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
    Second stanza: 6 - 1 - 5 - 2 - 4 - 3
    Third stanza: 3 - 6 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 5
    Fourth stanza: 5 - 3 - 2 - 6 - 1 - 4
    Fifth stanza: 4 - 5 - 1 - 3 - 6 - 2
    Sixth stanza: 2 - 4 - 6 - 5 - 3 - 1
    Concluding tercet:
    middle of first line - 2, end of first line - 5
    middle of second line - 4, end of second line - 3
    middle of third line - 6, end of third line - 1
  • shaped verse - See pattern poetry

    short syllable - The one that does not bear the primary stress, the weak one, e.g. the second syllable in the word solid: SOL-id. (See also long syllable)

    sight rhyme - Words used which although similar to look at have different pronunciations, as in come and home. Is also called a visual rhyme. (See also homonym)

    sigmatism - The intentional and marked repetition of similar sounding words, or extensive alliteration which creates a tongue twister, or a line that is difficult to say without error. (See also alliteration)

    simile - A comparison between two unlike things as in "..my love is like a red red rose." A simile which is extended and protracted is called an epic or heroic simile because of its use by writers in those forms. By distinction with the metaphor, the simile is an analogy and not an equivalence, i.e. a :: b, not a = b. (See also metaphor, symbol, synecdoche)

    skald – Term for a Scandinavian poet in ancient times. (See also rune, edda)

    skeltonics - Tumbling verse named after John Skelton, a Tudor poet who wrote in this form. Short lines using devices such as multiple rhyme and alliteration are frequently associated with skeltonics.

    society verse - From the French, vers de societé. A short lyrical poem about a current topic in a witty or ironic tone.

    solecism - Inappropriate use or violation of the rules of syntax.

    soliloquy – Speech delivered while alone, which gives the impression of thoughtful reflection. (See also dramatic monologue, interior monologue)

    sonnet - A poetic form consisting of fourteen lines. In the Shakespearean sonnet the first twelve lines are grouped in quatrains, with six alternating rhymes followed by a rhymed couplet, which is epigrammatic: ababcdcdefefgg. In the older Italian form, the sonnet is in the form of an octave followed by a sestet. ; this tends to give two viewpoints expressing the same idea. (See also Spenserian sonnet, Petrarchan sonnet)

    sonneteer - A writer of sonnets, used as a dismissive term for a minor poet. (See also bard, versifier)

    Sotadic - A scurrilous satire based on Sotades’ work, or a catalectic tetrameter ( ( ( , , | ( ( , , | ( ( , , | ( ( , ) composed of minor ionics. (See also ionic, palindrome)

    sound devices - Techniques used by poets to add a layer of meaning to a poem through the sounds and the contrasting sounds made by the words used. These include rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia, cacophony, caesura. (See also rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia, cacophony, caesura, mimesis)

    sound symbolism - See phonetic symbolism.

    speaker - See persona.

    Spenserian sonnet - This is a form similar to the Shakespearean sonnet but with the rhyme scheme abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee. (See also sonnet)

    Spenserian stanza - A stanza used by Spenser and based on nine iambic lines of ten syllables, and a final line of twelve. The rhyme scheme is ababbcbcc.

    split rhyme - See broken rhyme.

    spondee - A metrical foot consisting of two long syllables together ( , , ). (See also metrical foot)

    sprung rhythm - A poem where the syllable length of each foot varies, but every foot is equal in time length and the first syllable of each foot is accented. It was developed by G.M. Hopkins, and a mixture of four different metres is used (1) a stressed monosyllable (2) a trochee (3) a dactyl and (4) a first paeon. For example in his Windhover: "High (1)| there, (1)| how he (2)| rung upon the (4)| rein of a (3)| wimpling (2)| wing (1). In the same poem it can be seen that the end of a line does not necessarily mean the end of a foot, so that one could talk of foot-enjambment here; thus at the end of the first line "king-" provides the stressed syllable of the dactyl continuing at the beginning of the second line with "dom of". (See also cadence, ictus, modulation, trochee, dactyl, paeon)

    stanza - A section of a poem which forms the lines into blocks of verse. This is a useful device to indicate changes in thought or to aid with the rhythm or changes of pace. It is used by some poets to be roughly akin to a paragraph in prose. There are various names given to stanzas depending on the number of lines they contain. These are:

  • 2 lines: couplet

    3 lines: tercet

    4 lines: quatrain

    5 lines: quintet

    6 lines: sestet

    7 lines: septet

    8 lines: octave

  • Where stanzas follow a rhyme scheme they are often given a name to identify the type of rhyme scheme and metre used as in Spenserian stanza, terza rima, ottava rima. The stanza is also used to identify many styles of fixed form poems. (See also Spenserian stanza, terza rima, ottava rima)

    stave - Sometimes used as a word for stanza, or to identify a portion of a poem.

    stereotype - In literature it has much the same use as elsewhere but particularly focuses on confining the treatment of fictional characters to lazy and sweeping categorisation and generalisation.

    stich - A line or small section of poetry. (See also distich, monostich, hemistich, stichomythia)

    stichomythia - Dialogue carried out in alternate lines. (See also hemistich)

    stornello verses - Verses which use the same words or several of the same words in changing word order. (See also anadiplosis, anaphora, echo, epistrophe, epizeuxis, incremental repetition, parallelism, polysyndeton, refrain)

    strain - A strain of verse is one which runs in or through a poem and which is noteworthy for its eloquence or style.

    stream of consciousness - A form of writing in which every stray thought is recorded in a stream, showing an interior monologue, a famous example of which can be found in James Joyce’s Ulysses. (See also interior monologue)

    stress - The way in which a syllable or word is accented when read, shown by the symbol , . (See also cadence, ictus, modulation, rhythm, sprung rhythm)

    strophe - (STROE-fee) The first part of a Pindaric ode, which had three parts - strophe, antistrophe and epode. (See also antistrophe, epode, ode, Pindaric verse)

    style - The techniques used by the writer which bring an individual though not unique sound to a piece. (See also diction, persona, texture)

    syllabic verse - Verse which is distinguished in form by the number of syllables in a line or in the whole poem; such poetry does not scan in any regular sense. (See also haiku, accentual verse, quantitative verse)

    syllable - The sound made by one or more letters either alone or as part of a word, which is a complete sound in itself. Tea is a single-syllable word, while hun-ger consists of two. Syllables are either accented, stressed, long syllables or else unaccented, unstressed, short syllables. It is the relationship of the stressed and unstressed syllables which creates the rhythm in a poem. The combination of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry creates the feet by which the metrical qualities of a poem can be analysed. (See also foot)

    syllepsis - A figure of speech in which a word, usually a verb or adjective, is used in correct grammatical unity with two other words, but which represents a shift in sense. As in " files of information rasp at my brain". (See also hendiadys, prolepsis, pun, paranomasia)

    symbol - A transference of meaning so that one thing represents something else. As in "I will fight to keep my flag flying." Flag in this sense means country and its independence. In many poems, rivers and seasons are used to represent life, and night is a symbol of death. (See also allusion, metaphor, simile)

    symbolism - A late 19th century arts movement reacting against realism. Practitioners used symbols and metaphors to carry the central theme of the poem. (See also classicism, idealism, imagism, impressionism, metaphysical, objectivism, romanticism)

    symploce - (SIM-pluh-see) This is a combination of anaphora and epistrophe - the repetition of one word at the beginning of successive clauses and another at the end of them. (See also anaphora, epistophe)

    synaeresis - (sin-IRE-uh-sis) An elision of two adjoining vowels which are normally pronounced in two syllables into one, e.g. the pronunciation of seest as ceased as opposed to see-est. (See also elision, syncope, synaloepha)

    synaesthesia - The use of a word usually associated with one sense in connection another. As in "a syrupy laugh." (See also catachresis, metaphor, oxymoron, paradox)

    synaloepha - (sin-uh-LEAF-uh) An elision or letter-omission where the vowel sound at the end of a word is omitted and the remaining part is joined to the following word. As in " bird in th’hand" (See also elision, aphaeresis, apocope, synaeresis, syncope)

    syncope - An elision where letters are removed from the middle of a word. As in fo’c’sle written for forecastle. (See also elision, aphaeresis, apocope, synaeresis, syncope)

    synecdoche - (sin-EK-duh-kee) Figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole. As in suit to represent a corporate businessperson. (See also metaphor, simile, symbol)

    synonym - A word which has the same or very similar meaning as another and is synonymous with it, e.g. voyeuristic and prurient.

    syntax - The way in which words are grouped together in sentences and other grammatical forms in order to pass the intended meaning.

    synthetic metaphor - A suggested relationship between experiences from different senses. (See also metaphor, synaesthesia)