Assonance and Consonance

Assonance and Consonance

Mar 08

I referred to assonance and consonance in my post on alliteration. Today we get to explore them in detail.

At one point of time or another, we have come across a poem that truly moves us. It connects with us at a deeper level. If I ask you, “What was it about that poem that was so appealing?” there is a good chance that you will present a rational explanation. But poetry, as an art form, is a little like love. We know it is there, and that we like it, but we cannot always state why.

Among other factors, the rhythm and music embedded in poetry causes us to connect with it. There are several literary and poetic devices that make poems appealing. Recently, I wrote about one such textual device, the acrostic. Assonance and consonance are literary devices that help embed sound into text.

Assonance repeats vowel sounds to create a rhythm or beat. One of my favorite examples of assonance is:

I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless.
~Thin Lizzy, “With Love”

Read that sentence a couple of times. In addition to being a minor tongue twister, you will find that there is nice repeated rhythm set by the es sound. That is an example of assonance. Though assonance can occur in prose or poetry, like alliteration, it is usually found in poetry.

Consonance is similar to assonance in many ways. Except that consonance repeats a consonant sound while assonance repeats a vowel sound. Here is a beautiful example of consonance:

Pitter-patter pitter-patter
~Lynsey de Paul, “Storm in a teacup”

Notice the extraordinary music being created with the use of the repeated p and tt. Of course in this example Lynsey de Paul has not just embedded the sound of repeated consonants, she has also used onomatopoeia (which now becomes the subject of a future article :) )Assonance

Alliteration is a special case of consonance. It is a consonance that repeats the consonant sound at the beginning of words.

So, that is it more assonance-consonance. Do come back again to savor still more literary delights.