Patterns of Sound The most common type of repetition associated with poetry is the repeating of sounds, particularly in rhyme. Aside from rhyme, other sound patterns in poetry that provide meaning include alliteration, assonance, and onomatopoeia. Alliteration When two or more words start with the same letter, they are said to be alliterative. Words that share this property tend to belong to the same concept or idea. For example, "sunrise" and "sunset" are both forms of sunlight, so those words would be considered alliterative. Assonance Two words that sound similar but don't start with the same letter are called asso-nate words. For example, "shimmer" and "espy" are both forms of sight, so those words would be considered asso-nate words. Onomatopoeia Words that describe sounds actual people make are called onomatopoeias. People use these words to express ideas about sounds they think might be interesting or important. Examples include bang!, clang!, creak!, drip! ,...
These are just some examples of how different words can be used together to create a pattern of sound. Sounds can also be grouped by what they aren't rather than what they are. For example, words like piano and music both contain the sound /m/ but they are not identical sounds.
Alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia, and rhyme are all examples of sound figures. These effects are created by repeating or closely matching one or more words or syllables within a sentence or poem.
Alliteration is when two similar sounding words are heard together frequently. For example, "jingle-jangle", "tinkle-tangletinkle". Alliteration can be used to create a pleasant effect. In fact, it is one method used by poets to express themselves lyrically.
Assonance is when two or more words that begin with the same letter are sounded together. For example, "springtime" and "marching band". Assonance can also be used to create a pleasant effect.
Consonance is when two or more words that end with the same letter are sounded together. For example, "cradle" and "grave". Consonance can also be used to create a pleasant effect.
Head rhyme or beginning rhyme is the repeating of initial consonant sounds in two or more adjoining words or syllables (for example, wild and woolly, frightening hordes). Middle rhymes are repeated within single words (such as night for nigh), while end rhymes are repeated with final-syllable matches (boy/joy, sad/yawn).
Rhyme is used by poets to create rhythm and harmony in poems. Poets use different techniques to achieve this goal. For example, they may use alliteration (when letters or sound patterns that start together continue together), onomatopoeia (using words that sound like what they mean), metaphor (using one thing to describe another), simile (using something similar to describe things), or personification (attributing human qualities to objects).
All poetry is divided into lines, which usually end with a full stop or new sentence punctuation mark. However, other punctuation can be used instead: commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes. These punctuation marks are called enjambment markers because they tell the reader to move from one part of the line to the next without stopping or leaving room for doubt.
The pattern of sounds in speech or writing formed by the arrangement of stressed and unstressed syllables is referred to as rhythm. A poem can have rhymed or unrhymed lines, be written in precise metrical style or in free verse, but it must always have rhythm. One way to think about rhythm is in terms of stress: the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
Stress is the primary rhythmic element in language. It gives words their beat and determines how phrases and sentences are put together. Language teachers often discuss how to teach students about stress through discussion of how words like "quick" and "eat" differ only in their final syllables. Quick eats well; eat quick does not make sense! Students who learn about stress this way will understand that words with similar patterns of strong and weak syllables will be easier to recognize and remember.
Another way to think about stress is in terms of grammar. Stress affects the way verbs, adjectives, and nouns are conjugated or inflected in many languages. For example, English verbs end in "-ate" while French and Spanish verbs end in "-er" and "-ir". But despite these differences, all three languages require regular changes to their verbs in order to indicate person, number, and tense.
Students who learn about stress through discussion of grammatical rules will better understand its role in language.