A literary device which is used for repetition of the same consonant sound in a sequence of words, usually at the beginning of a word or in stressed syllable. It is used seldom in prose. In Old English poetry, this term was abundantly used and was part of rhythmic scheme and same remained in use of the writers till the late Middle Ages. After the end of 15th century, the use of alliteration become unusual and this term was used occasionally for creating some special effect.
Term borrowed from New Latin and originated in 1624.
Common Examples of Alliteration
- Busy as a bee
- Good as gold
- Make a mountain out of a molehill
- Right as rain
- Big as bungalow.
- Shine like sun
- Bare But all the time
- When things went wrong we blame mama.
- Crunchy Cake
- The keeshond kicked the kid.
- You should get the dishes done after dinner.
Alliteration in Literature
“Snake” by D.H. Lawrence
“And Flickered his two-forked tongue
From his lips, and mused a moment
And stopped and drank a little more,
From the burning bowels of the earth.
In the above stanza, the syllables ‘f’, ‘m’, and ‘b’ have been used repeatedly in a line.
“Lord Ullin’s daughter” (by Thomas Campbell)
“His horsemen hard behind us ride;
Should they our steps discover,
Then who will cheer my bonny bride
When they have slain her lover? Whatever I see I swallow immediately”.
Here the syllables ‘h’ and ‘b’ have been used as alliteration.
“Kubla Khan” (by Coleridge)
“Five miles meandering with a mazy motion”
The use of syllable ‘m’ has been occurred repeatedly in the line.
“Mutual Life” (by Norman MacCaig’s)
“A wild cat, fur-fire in a bracken bush, Twitches his club-tail, rounds his amber eyes At rockabye rabbits humped on the world. The air Crackles about him. His world is a rabbit’s size”
Here the use of syllables ‘f’, ‘b’ and ‘r’ has been noticed in repetition.
“The Windhover” (by Hopkin’s)
“I caught this morning’s minion, Kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, Dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing In his ecstasy”!
Here syllables ‘m’, ‘d’, ‘s’ and ‘r’ are examples of alliteration.
“To Autumn” (by Keats)
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the that cheaves run”
In the above stanza, use of syllable ‘m’ is example of alliteration.
“The Welsh Hill-Country” (by R.S. Thomas)
“Too far for you to see The fluke and the foot-rot and the fat maggot Gnawing the skin from the small bones, The sheep are grazing at Bwlch-y-Fedwen, Arranged romantically in the usual manner On a bleak background in the usual manner, On a bleak background of bald stone”.
The syllables ‘t’, ‘f, and ‘b’ have been used repeatedly .
Purpose of Using Alliteration
“Alliteration” enlarges beauty to the poetry and prose. To create long-standing effect upon the minds of readers, the poet often use this type of device which otherwise makes the poetry or verse impressive. It is also used to produce musical effect and to make rhyming scheme in a sentence which gives the poetry as artistic beauty.
Difference between Alliteration, Assonance and Consonance:
‘Alliteration’ is the repetition of sound in the beginning of a word in a line which usually comes two or more times. For example, “Patrik Pringles puts the papers and sheets on the tables”, the consecutive use of ‘P’ consonant in the sentence denotes the use of alliteration.
‘The repetition of vowel sound in a word is called assonance. Writers use ‘assonance’ one or more time in a line in order to make interesting and everlasting effect. For example, “behind the bench”
“Consonance” is the repetition of same consonance sound in the end of a word. For example: home, same; worth, breath