How Does Assonance Affect a Poem

What is Assonance

Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound in nearby words or phrases. The words that contain the vowel sounds may start and begin with different consonant sounds. For example, wheel and grease begin and end in different consonants, but they share the vowel sound ee.

Assonance, along with consonance and alliteration, creates the internal rhythm within phrases and sentences. These literary devices are more often used in verse.

Examples of Assonance

“West Beast East Beast” by Dr. Seuss:

“Upon an island hard to reach,
  The East Beast sits upon his beach.
  Upon the west beach sits the West Beast.
  Each beach beast thinks he’s the best beast.”

“Stopping by the Woods” by Robert Frost:

“He gives his harness bells a shake
  To ask if there is some mistake.
  The only other sound’s the sweep
  Of easy wind and downy flake.
  The woods are lovely, dark and deep.”

“Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce

“Soft language issued from their spitless lips as they swished in low circles round and round the field, winding hither and thither through the weeds.”

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe.

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride

How Does Assonance Affect a Poem

How Does Assonance Affect a Poem

Assonance has several effects in a poem. The main uses of assonance are bringing attention to certain words in the poem and creating rhythm.

Add Emphasis

Assonance directs the readers’ attention to particular words, making these words stand out in the poetry. Assonance can produce specific sound combinations that trigger off certain auditory associations and make the poems more memorable.

For example, let’s’ look at William Wordsworth’s poem ‘Daffodils’. The poet uses alliteration and assonance to describe the field of daffodils.

“When all at once I saw a crowd,
  A host, of golden daffodils;
  Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
  Fluttering and dancing in the breeze…”

The use of assonance here helps the reader to visualize the field of daffodils and makes this scene more memorable.

Create Rhythm

Poets often use assonance to enhance their poetry by adding a musical effect to the poems. Careful use of assonance can help to establish rhythm within a poem. Some poets prefer to use literary devices such as assonance and alliteration instead of rhyme. Rhythm is created when the reader’s attention is directed to certain sounds, affecting which words are naturally stressed. Poems and nursery rhymes created by Dr. Seuss are a perfect example for this.

“Today you are You,
  that is truer than true.
  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Summary

  • Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds.
  • Assonance is mainly used in poetry.
  • Assonance can direct readers’ attention towards particular words and phrases.
  • Assonance can create rhythm and add musicality to a poem.

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.


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