Poetry 101: Lyricism

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Assonance and Alliteration

While there are many aspects of lyricism, alliteration and assonance are two of the most important.

Alliteration is when you have a series of words with the same first consonant sound close together, e.g., Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Alliterative words can be right next to each other or a few words apart.

Assonance, like alliteration, has to do with words having similar sounds. With assonance you are looking for similar vowel sounds within the words, e.g., Molly donned a shawl for the fall ball.

In addition to assonance and alliteration, there are two less commonly taught elements of shared-sound lyricism: Consonance and sibilance. Consonance is like alliteration, except the consonant sound is in the middle or end of the word rather than the beginning, and sibilance is the repetition of s, f, and th sounds.

Test Your Lyric Knowledge

See if you can identify the alliteration and assonance in the following examples. Make note of the alliteration and assonance you find.

(From Gawain and the Green Knight)

A coat cut close, that clung to his sides,
And a mantle to match, made with lining
Of furs cut and fitted- the fabric was noble,
Embellished all with ermine, and his hood beside,
That was loosed from his locks, and laid on his shoulders.

(From “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Your Turn!

Write a couple lines using alliteration and assonance.


Try to use at least three alliterative sounds.


Try to use at least three assonated sounds.

Feel free to post your results in the comments, below!

Move on to the rhythm lesson.

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