A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Z
  • The Fleshly School of Poetry

    The phrase that Robert Williams Buchanan coined for Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his imitators in a scathing review in The Contemporary Review in 1871.

  • Tanka

    Japanese form of five lines with five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables, 31 in all. English examples exist by Amy Lowell and Adelaide Crapsey. E.g.,

    A golf ball in flight
    marks out a delicately
    skewed parabola
    that fractals on embracing
    greenly arithmetic turf.


  • Tautology

    A statement redundant in itself, such as "The stars, O astral bodies!"

  • Telestich

    Spelling out a word, a phrase, or name vertically in sequence down the last letters of verse lines in a poem. See also Acrostic.

  • Tercet, terzet

    A rhyming triplet, found in sequences such as

    • aaa bbb (for example, Thomas Hardy's "The Convergence of the Twain")


    • aba cdc (where b and d are unrhyming)


    • abc abc (repeated)


    • aba bcb (interlaced or linked, where the three lines are tied by rhyme to the rest of the stanza)


    • the sestet of a sonnet and, when made into a stanza by itself, named terza rima (see just below).
  • Terza rima

    An Italian stanzaic form, used by Dante in his Divina Commedia, consisting of tercets with interwoven rhymes, aba bcb dcd efe ... and a concluding couplet rhyming with the penultimate line of the last tercet. The original Italian form was iambic pentameter, plus one syllable. Examples in English are Sir Thomas Wyatt's "Of the Mean and the Sure Estate," Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind," and Robert Browning's "The Statue and the Bust."

  • Terzain

    A stanza of three lines.

  • Tetrameter

    Four feet, a measure made up of four feet. Shakespeare's "Fear no more the heat of the sun" is an example.

  • Theme

    A prevailing idea in a work, but sometimes not explicitly stated, as in Ogden Nash's "Candy is dandy, / But liquor is quicker," which is about neither candy nor liquor.

  • Tone

    The poet's attitude to the poem's subject as the reader interprets that, sometimes through the tone of the persona or speaker (who may feel quite differently).

  • Tornada

    A three-line envoy that include the rhymes of all preceding stanzas.

  • Travesty

    A work that deflates something that is treated by another work with high seriousness.

  • Tribrach

    Greek and Latin metrical foot consisting of short, short, and short syllables / ~ ~ ~ /.

  • Trimeter

    Three feet; sometimes termed tripody, a triple foot, one measure made up of three feet. An example is Percy Bysshe Shelley's "To a Skylark," which uses trochaic trimeters for the first two lines of each stanza.

  • Triolet

    An eight-line stanza having just two rhymes and repeating the first line as the fourth and seventh lines, and the second line as the eighth. Examples are W. E. Henley's "Easy is the Triolet" and Robert Bridges' "When first we met we did not guess."

  • Triplet

    A three-syllable foot, or a three-line stanza, with a single rhyme. For example, Robert Herrick's "Upon Julia's Clothes."

  • Trochee

    A metrical foot consisting of an accented syllable followed by an unaccented syllable. Examples of trochaic words include "garden" and "highway." William Blake opens "The Tyger" with a predominantly trochaic line: "Tyger! Tyger! burning bright." Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" is mainly trochaic. There is also a Classical Greek and Latin double foot termed the di-trochee / ' ~ ' ~ /.

  • Trope


    A semantic figure of speech or of thought that varies the meaning of a word or passage. Examples include metaphor, metonymy, objectification, and personification.

  • Tang Dynasty

    In Chinese literature, the Tang period (618-907) is considered the golden age of Chinese poetry, sculpture, and Buddhism. The Tang capital of Chang’an became a great international metropolis, with traders and embassies from Central Asia, Arabia, Persia, Korea, and Japan. The prosperous Tang dynasty was also an era of development of a highly educated society, synonymous with the birth of famous poems created by individuals such as Li Bai and Du Fu. In the history of Chinese literature, historians usually judge Tang poetry, Yuan Qu-poetry, and Song Ci-poetry as triangular-balanced peaks of literature.

    "Selected 300 Tang Dynasty Poems"(唐诗三百首)is the most popular anthology of Chinese classic poetry. It was compiled by the Qing scholar Sun Zhu 孙洙, also called Hengtang Tuishi 衡塘退士 , the "Retired Master of Hengtang", and published in 1764. Sun was not very pleased with the poems of the anthology Qianjiashi 千家诗 , "A thousand master's poems" (late Southern Song), because of its lack of an educational spirit. He wanted poems that cultivated the character of the reader. Today, there exist some new compositions of three hundred Tang poems containing different works because the attitude to poetry in the Qing period, as an educational instrument, is not held so firmly today. Sun Zhu divided his anthology into six different styles, comprising old style poems (gushi, 古詩), regular poems (lüshi 律詩) and short poems (jueju, 絕句), both with five- and seven-syllable verses. Between the particular sections, poems in the style of the old Han Music Bureau (yuefu, 樂府) are inserted that were still in use during the Tang Dynasty but gradually lost their original character and disappeared during the latter half of period.

    Sun selected Tang poems for their popularity and their effectiveness in moulding the reader's character. Representing equally well each of the classical poetic forms as well as the best works by the most prominent Tang poets, Sun's collection became a "best seller" soon after its publication. Used for centuries since to teach elementary students to read and write, it is still a classic today, its popularity undiminished. Nearly every Chinese household owns a copy of Tang Shi and poems from it are still included in textbooks and are assigned to be memorized by students.

    This selection holds 43 representative Tang poems by major and minor poets. They illustrate seven poetic forms of this dynasty:

    • five-character-ancient-verse
    • five-character-regular-verse
    • five-character-quatrain
    • seven-character-ancient-verse
    • seven-character-regular-verse
    • Seven-character-quatrain
    • folk-song-styled-verse

    They have been translated into English by the greatest living translator of Chinese poetry into English, Xu Yuanchong, as a testimony to its compiler's intent: "Learning three hundred Tang poems by heart, you can chant poems though you know not the art."