Assonance

Top

Assonance is one of the figurative term used to refer to the recurrence of a vowel sound in a line of text or poetry. The words have to be close enough together for the replication to be evident. Assonance is used for some of the same reasons as alliteration. It can affect the rhythm, tone, frame of mind and mood of a text. The repetition of certain vowel sounds-think short vowels sounds from the letters u or o-can create a melancholy mood.

Several proverbs in English contain examples of assonance. The methods of assonance, alliteration,  sibilance, consonance and slant rhyme are all closely connected and consist of the repetition of definite sounds in quick succession. The assonance in these phrases helps to make them more extraordinary in a delicate way than through rhyming words.

Similar to any other literary device, assonance also has a very important role to play in both poetry and prose. Writers use it as a tool to enhance a musical effect in the text by using it for creating inside rhyme, which subsequently improves the desire of reading a literary piece. In addition, it helps writers to cultivate a particular mood in the text that relates with its subject matter.


Assonance Definition

Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound or diphthong in non-rhyming words. Assonance is also called ‘vowel rhyme’. The word is derived from the Latin phrase assonance, meaning to answer with the same sound. It takes place when two or more words are close to one another and repeats a pattern of similar sounds within a sentence. In short, Assonance repeats the same vowel sound but start with different consonant sounds. 

Assonance is used in poetry to create different effects. It is used to reinforce the meanings of words or to set the mood. It produces a form of rhyme throughout the whole sentence not just within the verse. It also mirrors or changes the mood of a poem in order to match the subject matter. As you will hear, it is possible to use assonance in everyday speech. However, most people don’t use it intentionally, unless trying to woo someone romantically!

Assonance can be used in all types of literature, but is commonly found in poetry. It is a common literary technique used in poetry and prose, and is widely found in English verse. Assonance provides poetic writing with rhythm and musicality. Beyond literature, assonance is also found in pop culture, especially in music. To qualify as assonance, the words must be close enough for the repetition of the sound to be noticeable. Assonance examples are sometimes hard to find, because they work subconsciously sometimes, and are subtle. The long vowel sounds will slow down the energy and make the mood more somber, while high sounds can increase the energy level of the piece. 

For instance,
“Men sell the wedding bells.”

The identical vowel sound of the short vowel “-e-” repeats itself in almost all the words excluding the definite article. The words do share the same vowel sounds but start with different consonant sounds.


Assonance Examples

While many may think that rhyme is one of the important features of poetry, it was not all that common in Old English. However, the foremost poetic measures of Old English narrators were rhythm and meter, and consonance and assonance. Rhyme remained common in English verse for several hundred years, but has once again fallen out of courtesy. Meanwhile, contemporary poets still use assonance, consonance, and alliteration to provide more refined phonemic unity. 

Assonance is mainly used in poetry in order to add rhythm and music, by adding an internal rhyme to a poem. In conclusion, assonance is an advantageous useful poetic device in which the writer places repeating vowel sounds thoroughly. Doing so gives the structure rhythm and sound, which may reflect the overall meaning or mood of the piece. 

Below are a few assonance examples that are from literature.


  • We light fire on the mountain.
  • Do you like blue? 
  • I find this grind of coffee in a line of fine brands on the shelf.
  • He received three emails today.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • Try as I might, the kite did not fly. 
  • She seems to beam rays of sunshine with her eyes of green.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • I feel depressed and restless.
  • Go slow over the road. 
  • Johnny went here and there and everywhere.
  • Sally sells sea shells beside the sea shore.
  • The crumbling thunder of seas
  • A stitch in time saves nine.
  • The early bird catches the worm.
  • Go and mow the lawn.
  • I find this line difficult to complete in time.
  • I’m trying to light the fire.
  • The light of the fire is a sight. 
  • Let the cat out of the bag.
  • The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  • The sailor said ‘hey’ to Mae in passing.
  • The engineer held the steering to steer the vehicle.
Examples of Assonance in Literature:
  1. From the movie My Fair Lady: "The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain." (repetition of the long a sound)
  2. William Blake's "Tyger": "Tyger, Tyger burning bright in the forest of the night" (repetition of the long i sound)
  3. Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabelle Lee": "And so all the night-tide, I lie down by the side of my darling-my darling-my life and my bride" (repetition of the long i sound)
  4. From William Wordsworth's "Daffodils": "A host of golden daffodils" (repetition of the long o sound)

Assonance in Poetry

Poems have an altered arrangement from prose, but it is their musical abilities that truly set poems distant from other forms of literature. Poems have a different structure from prose, but it is their musical potentials that truly set poems apart from other forms of literature. Assonance can be very expedient in poetry. Rhyming can create a certain fixed beat for a poem, but what if you didn't want to create sounds that rhymed in a noticeable way?  Think of an appealing poem, song or jingle that you have heard somewhere. Most likely it rhymes. And you perhaps sing along when you don't even really pay attention to what you are saying. A poet using assonance can still create sound patterns, but with a less obvious rhythm. Assonance can help poems create sounds that are musically enjoyable to the ear.