Poetic devices are tools that poets use to enhance the beauty, emotional impact, and effectiveness of their poetry. Alliteration is one such device that involves the repetition of initial consonant sounds in a sequence of words or syllables.
What is alliteration?
Alliteration is a poetic device that involves the repetition of the initial consonant sound in a series of words within a phrase or sentence. It is commonly used in poetry and other forms of literature to create a rhythmic and musical effect, and to emphasize certain words or ideas.
For example, the phrase “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” is an example of alliteration, as the initial “p” sound is repeated in each word. Alliteration can be used for various purposes, including to create a specific mood or tone, to draw attention to certain words, or to add musicality to a piece of writing.
How to Identify Alliteration?
As you now know ‘Alliteration’ is a literary device in which a sequence of words begins with the same sound or letter, usually at the beginning of words that are close together. Here are some steps to help you identify alliteration in a sentence or phrase:
- Look for words in a sentence or phrase that start with the same sound. For example, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
- Notice the repetition of the initial sound of each word. In the example above, the “p” sound is repeated in “Peter,” “Piper,” “picked,” “peck,” and “pickled.”
- Listen for the sound: Pay attention to the way the words sound when spoken aloud. Alliteration is usually more noticeable when read aloud than when read silently.
- Pay attention to the rhythm and flow of the sentence or phrase. Alliteration often creates a musical or rhythmic effect in writing.
- Note that alliteration can occur with either consonant or vowel sounds. For example, “Alice’s aunt ate apples and acorns around August” contains alliteration with the “a” sound.
Examples of use of alliteration
Here are some examples of alliteration in poetry along with an explanation of how the alliteration enhances the meaning and musicality of the poem:
- “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (The repetition of the “f” sound creates a dramatic effect in this line.)
- “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” (The repetition of the “p” sound creates a playful and rhythmic effect.)
- “Sally sells seashells by the seashore” (The repetition of the “s” sound creates a musical effect and emphasizes the word “seashells.”)
- “The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (The repetition of the “f” and “w” sounds creates a sense of movement and action.)
- “We saw the sea sound sing, we heard the salt sheet tell” – Gerard Manley Hopkins, Sea and Skylarks (The repetition of the “s” and “sh” sounds creates a sense of the sea’s power and beauty.)
- “Silken Sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain” – Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven (The repetition of the “s” and “r” sounds creates a haunting and eerie effect.)
- “In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (The repetition of the “m” and “sh” sounds creates a sense of the atmospheric conditions that the sailor is describing, and also contributes to the musicality of the poem.)
- “Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before” – Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven (The repetition of the “d” and “dr” sounds creates a sense of the speaker’s uncertainty and fear, and also contributes to the musicality of the line.)
- “Soul supreme, forsworn, who hath felt the balm of bliss” – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Blessed Damozel (The repetition of the “s” and “f” sounds creates a sense of emphasis on the important words in the line, and also contributes to the musicality of the poem.)
- Big brown bears bounce balls on the beach. (The repetition of the “b” sound creates a playful and rhythmic effect.)
- Fred’s friends fried Fritos for Friday’s food. (The repetition of the “f” sound creates a playful and rhythmic effect.)
- The sneaky snake slithered silently through the grass. (The repetition of the “s” sound creates a sense of movement and action.)
- Tommy took two tacos and a tall tea at the taco stand. (The repetition of the “t” sound creates a playful and rhythmic effect.)
Does Alliteration always start with initial sound a letter?
Yes, alliteration typically involves the repetition of initial sounds of words. However, it is also possible for alliteration to involve the repetition of other sounds within a word or sentence, such as the repetition of internal consonants or the repetition of vowel sounds. For example, consider the following sentence:
“She sells seashells by the seashore.”
In this sentence, the “s” sound is repeated multiple times within words and across words, creating an example of alliteration that is not limited to the initial sound of the words.
So, while alliteration often involves initial sounds, it is not a requirement for it to occur
Purpose of Alliteration in a poetry?
- Sound: Alliteration can create a pleasing or interesting sound pattern that catches the listener’s ear and draws them into the poem.
- Rhythm: By repeating the same consonant sound at the beginning of words, alliteration can create a sense of rhythm and musicality in the poem.
- Emphasis: Alliteration can be used to emphasize certain words or phrases, making them stand out and drawing attention to their importance.
- Mood: Alliteration can help to create a particular mood or tone in the poem, such as a sense of urgency or a feeling of calm.
Overall, alliteration and other poetic devices can help to make poetry more memorable, expressive, and impactful. They allow poets to craft language in ways that are both artful and effective, and can create a deep emotional connection between the poet and the reader or listener.