Poetic devices

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Poetic devices

  1. 1. Poetic Devices
  2. 2. AlliterationALLITERATION: Repeating a consonant sound in closeproximity to others, or beginning several words with thesame vowel sound. For instance, the phrase "buckets ofbig blue berries" alliterates with the consonant b. Theline "apt alliterations artful aid" alliterates with thevowel sound a. Walt Whitmans "Song of Myself"employs the technique: "I lean and loaf at my easeobserving a spear of summer grass." Most frequently,the alliteration involves the sounds at the beginning ofwords in close proximity to each other. If alliterationalso involves changes in the intervening vowels betweenrepeated consonants, the technique is calledconsonance.
  3. 3. CONSONANCEA special type of alliteration in which therepeated pattern of consonants is marked bychanges in the intervening vowels--i.e., thefinal consonants of the stressed syllables matcheach other but the vowels differ. Examplesinclude linger, longer, and languor or rider,reader, raider, and ruder. Do not confuseconsonance with a consonant.
  4. 4. ASSONANCE• Repeating identical or similar vowels (especially in stressed syllables) in nearby words. Assonance in final vowels of lines can often lead to half-rhyme. Deutsche notes that assonance is a common technique in the poetry of G. M. Hopkins, Dylan Thomasp, and more generally in popular ballads; an example appears in the second and fourth lines of this stanza from "Fair Annie":• Bind up, bind up your yellow hair, And tie it on your neck; And see you look as maiden-like As the day that first we met. (qtd in Deutsche 140).• If combined with consonnance, assonance can create actual full rhyme
  5. 5. REFRAINA line or set of lines at the end of a stanza or section of alonger poem or song--these lines repeat at regular intervalsin other stanzas or sections of the same work. Sometimesthe repetition involves minor changes in wording. A refrainmight consist of a nonsense word (such as Shakespeares"With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino" in the song from AsYou Like It), a single word (such as “__________" in Poes"The Raven"), or even an entire separate stanza that isrepeated alternating with each stanza in the poem. If therefrain is meant to be sung by all the auditors listening, therefrain is often called a chorus. The device is ancient.Examples are found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, theBible, Greek, Latin, and Provençal verse, and in many, manyballads
  6. 6. RHYME SCHEME:• The pattern of rhyme. The traditional way to mark these patterns of rhyme is to assign a letter of the alphabet to each rhyming sound at the end of each line. For instance, here is the first stanza of James Shirleys poem "Of Death," from 1659. I have marked each line from the first stanza with an alphabetical letter at the end of each line to indicate rhyme:• The glories of our blood and state --------------A Are shadows, not substantial things; -----------B There is no armor against fate; ------------------A Death lays his icy hand on kings: ---------------B Scepter and crown -------------------------------C Must tumble down, --------------------------------C And in the dust be equal made ------------------D With the poor crooked scythe and spade. -----D
  7. 7. INTERNAL RHYME:• A poetic device in which a word in the middle of a line rhymes with a word at the end of the same metrical line. Internal rhyme appears in the first and third lines in this excerpt from Shelleys "The Cloud":• I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise and unbuild it again.• In the excerpt above, the word laugh is an internal rhyme with cenotaph, and the word womb is an internal rhyme with tomb. Other examples include the Mother Goose rhyme, "Mary, Mary, quite contrary," or Coleridges Ancient Mariner, ("We were the first that ever burst / Into that silent sea"). Contrast with interlaced rhyme, above.
  8. 8. ONOMATOPOEIAThe use of sounds that are similar to the noise theyrepresent for a rhetorical or artistic effect. For instance, buzz,click, rattle, and grunt make sounds akin to the noise theyrepresent. A higher level of onomatopoeia is the use ofimitative sounds throughout a sentence to create anauditory effect. For instance, Tennyson writes in The Princessabout "The moan of doves in immemorial elms, / Andmurmuring of innumerable bees." All the /m/ and /z/sounds ultimately create that whispering, murmuring effectTennyson describes. In similar ways, poets delight inchoosing sounds that match their subject-matter, such asusing many clicking ks and cs when describing a rapier duel(to imitate the clack of metal on metal), or using many /s/sounds when describing a serpent, and so on.
  9. 9. ONOMATOPOEIA (a higher level)• Robert Browning liked squishy sounds when describing squishy phenomena, and scratchy sounds when describing the auditory effect of lighting a match, such as in his poem "Meeting at Night": "As I gain the cove with pushing prow, / And quench its speed i the slushy sand. / a tap at the pane, the quick sharp, scratch / and blue spurt of a lighted match." The technique is ancient, and we can find a particularly cunning example in Virgils Latin, in which he combines /d/ and /t/ sounds along with galloping rhythm to mimic in words the sound of horses he describes: "Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum. . . ."

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