Assonance poems are abundant in literature. Assonance is one of the more difficult techniques to master when writing poetry. Assonance occurs when vowels are repeated in words that are close to each other.
Literary Devices in Prose and Poetry
There are three literary devices found in prose and poetry. These are:
- Consonance – repeating the final consonant sounds of words. Writers usually focus on the accented syllables or the more important words to use in this technique.
- Alliteration – repetition of the first sounds of words that are fairly close together. A common example of alliteration is the tongue twister.
- Assonance – repetition of vowel sounds to set the mood or add to the meaning of the word.
Assonance Poems: Changing the Mood
The way you use assonance can change the mood of the poem:
- Long vowel sounds will decrease the energy at that point in the poem and make the mood more serious.
- Higher vowel sounds will increase the energy and lighten the mood.
Hear the mellow wedding bells,
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And an in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
From the fourth stanza:
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
Poe used assonance in El Dorado as well:
A gallant night
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of El Dorado.
But he grew old –
This knight so bold –
And – o’er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like El Dorado.”
Next in the examples of assonance poems is an excerpt from The Feast Of Famine by Robert Louis Stevenson:
From folk that sat on the terrace and drew out the even long
Sudden crowings of laughter, monotonous drone of song;
The quiet passage of souls over his head in the trees;
And from all around the haven the crumbling thunder of seas.”
Farewell, my home,” said Rua. “Farewell, O quiet seat!
To-morrow in all your valleys the drum of death shall beat.
The Master: Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was a master of all these literary techniques; consonance, alliteration, and assonance.
In this excerpt from the poem The Raven note the “i” and “ur” sound used in assonance, the “s” sound used in consonance, and the “r” and “s” sound used in alliteration at the beginning of words:
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating`
‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’
Assonance in the Works of William Wordsworth
The World Is Too Much with Us by William Wordsworth is yet another example of the use of assonance as a literary tool in poetry:
“So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.”
William Wordsworth used assonance frequency and another examples can be seen in his poem Daffodils
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
Assonance in the Works of Robert Frost
Robert Frost was an American poet who lived from 1874-1963. Many of his poems made use of colloquial language. They also made use of assonance. Consider these two examples:
Fire and Ice by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
“He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Other Examples of Assonance in Poetry
Finding assonance poems isn’t a challenge, since so many authors embraced this literary tool to help create rhythm and cadence in their poetry. Consider the following examples by some well-known and respected poets:
The Lotus-Eaters by Alfred Lord Tennyson
There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tir’d eyelids upon tir’d eyes;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And thro’ the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.
Travel by Edna St. Vincent Millay
The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.
Frost at Midnight by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.”
Fun with Assonance
Assonance doesn’t have to be used by serious poets only. To finish off the examples of assonance poems, consider this fun little ditty by Dr. Suess that entertains children everywhere.
West Beast East Beast by Dr. Seuss
Upon an island hard to reach,
The East Beast sits upon his beach.
Upon the west beach sits the West Beast.
Each beach beast thinks he’s the best beast.
Which beast is best?…Well, I thought at first,
That the East was best and the West was worst.
Then I looked again from the west to the east
And I liked the beast on the east beach least.