When we think of poetry, we think of rhyme which basically a poem consists of, but a good poem is more complex as it involves the use of some poetic stuff like poetic devices that creates a great harmony between the words and sentences of a poem, making it sound more pleasurable and compelling.
One of the prominent and frequently used poetic devices is ”Assonance”, which can be found in works of prominent poets like John Keats, Edgar Allan Poe, William Wordsworth, and even William Shakespeare‘s sonnets and plays.
What is Assonance in Poetry?
Assonance is a poetic device that takes place in poetry when there is a repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds between syllables of nearby words (in the same line of a poem), especially in a stressed syllable.
Ex- ”Seen” and ”Beat”, as you can see from the example where the vowel sounds ”ee” in ”seen” and ”ea” in ”beat” give a similar sound when pronounced.
Related- Examples of Meter in Poetry
Other Prominent Poetic Sound Devices
- Consonance- It is the repetition of same consonant sound (often at the end of the word) in a line of poetry, and generally termed as consonance in American English.
For example- ”Cold” and ”Killed”
- Alliteration- It is the repetition of a similar consonant sound at the beginning of a word in a sequence of nearby words.
For example- Fair is foul, and foul is fair ( Macbeth).
- Rhyme- ”Rhyme” is a poetic device but also defined as a special case of assonance where the ending of words with vowel sound in the last syllable is identical.
For example- ”History” and ”Mystery”, as you can see both last vowel syllables ”ory” and ”ery” sound the same as ”ery” when pronounced which creates a rhyme between the words.
Examples of Assonance in Poetry
Example #1- Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats
Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Thou foster child of silence and slow time.
The repeated vowel ”i” sound in these lines from Keat’s poem Ode on a Grecian Urn are creating assonance in the poem.
Example #2- The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded nearly napping suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
In these lines from Poe’s poem The Raven, the repeated ”ea” vowel sound in the first line, repeated ”u” vowel sound in the second and the repeated ”a” vowel sound in the third and fourth line are creating assonance in these lines of poem.
Example #3- Sonnet 1 by William Shakespeare
His tender heir might bear his memory
In this line from Sonnet 1 by Shakespeare, the repeated similar ”e” vowel sound is creating assonance in the line of the sonnet.
Example #4- Holy Sonnet 3 by John Donne
O might those sighs and tears returns again
The repeated ”i” vowel sound in this line from Holy Sonnet 3 by Donne is creating assonance.
Example #5- I wondered lonely as a cloud by William Wordsworth
I wondered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er values and hills,
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.
In this stanza from Wordsworth’s poem, the repeated ”o” vowel sound in the first second & fourth line and than the repeated similar vowel sound of ”ee” is creating assonance.
Example #6- The Mother by Gwendolyn Brooks
You will never neglect or beat
Them or silence or buy with a sweet
In these two lines from Brooks’ poem, The Mother, the repeated ”e” vowel sound and similar vowel sound of ”i” and ”u” is creating assonance in the
Example #7- Frost at Midnight by S.T Coleridge
Have left me to that solitude which suits Abstruser musings
In this line from Coleridge’s poem, Frost at Midnight, the repeated ”u” vowel sound is creating assonance.
Example #8- The Tyger by William Blake
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forest of the night
The repeated ”y” and ”i” similar vowel sound is creating assonance in this two lines from Blake’s poem The Tyger
Example #9- Bells by Edgar Allan Poe
Hear the mellow wedding bells,
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
In these three lines from Poe’s poem, Bells, the repeated ”e” vowel sound is creating assonance.
Example #10- Daddy by Sylvia Plath
I was ten when they buried you.
In this line from Plath’s poem, Daddy the repeated ”e” vowel sound is creating assonance.
Read more examples of assonance in poetry, here