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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.



O, the apostrophe, how we love thee!

Nope, we're not just talking about the punctuation mark. In poetry, an apostrophe is a term used when a speaker directly addresses someone or something that isn't present in the poem.

The speaker could be addressing an abstract concept like love, a person (dead or alive), a place, or even a thing, like the sun or the sea.

Check out William Wordsworth's sonnet "London, 1802" for an apostrophe to (the much older and way dead poet) John Milton. Emily Dickinson also has a lot of apostrophes in her poetry, like the one to summer in "The gentian weaves her fringes". Can you spot the apostrophe?