• Sound Elements
    (Rhyme, Internal Rhyme, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia)


    The word is meant to be heard. Poems are for reading aloud. Build them that way. Make a poem work the audience's ears through rhyme, consonance, assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia and wordplay.

    Rhyme
    isn’t just things that end with the same sound. Those are standard rhymes. But rhyming also includes assonance (internal rhymes), consonance ("slant rhymes"), and rhymes of more than one syllable (multisyllabic rhymes).

     
    Multisyllabic Rhymes
    A note on multisyllabic rhymes: If the last syllable of a word isn’t accented, like in the word "potato" ("poh-TAY-toe"), then you have to also rhyme the syllable that is accented: e.g., "potato" and "Plato," not just "potato" and "go." It's okay to use two words for this. ("potato" and "clay toe")


    Assonance (also known as Internal Rhyme)
    means having the same vowel sounds in syllables. So “lip” rhymes with “tick.” “The capable maker of drapes” has lots of “ay’ sounds.


    Consonance (also known as Slant Rhymes)
    means having similar patterns of consonants; only the vowels vary. For example, paste, post, pest and past have consonance with each other.

    W.H. Auden:
     
    You are the one whose part it is to lean,
    for whom it is not good to be alone.
    Laugh warmly turning shyly in the hall
    or climb with bare knees the volcanic hill…


    Alliteration
    means repeating sounds – either vowels or consonants. So the “capable maker of drapes” is also an example of alliteration, but so is “the cross-eyed cutter of cookies.”

    If you want to get extra-skilled with alliteration, you’ll notice sounds in a real-life scene – like repeating “sh” sounds of a breeze through trees, or “ch” sounds of a train – and repeat them in a poem about that subject. (Tennyson’s nature hums: “The moan of doves in immemorial elms/ and murmuring of innumerable bees.”)


    Onomatopoeia
    (literally: “name-making”) is words that sound like what they mean. Quack, moo, buzz and murmur are examples others once made and lazy people use. You can make original onamatopoeia like “the shoes on the court went reet! reet! like baby birds.” Onamatopoeia is usually italicized when used.

     

    Sound Elements Assignment

    Write two examples of each of the sound elements above, in the form of full lines of poetry, as follows:

    1. A rhyming couplet (two lines that rhyme at the ends) using multisyllabic rhymes, where the last syllable of the rhyming words are not accented:


    2. Another:


    3. A pair of lines full of internal rhymes (assonance), not regular rhymes:


    4. Another:


    5. A pair of lines full of slant rhymes (consonance), not regular rhymes:


    6. Another:


    7. One original line full of alliteration (like a new tongue twister):


    8. Another:


    9. One line that creates an original example of onamatopoeia (invents a spelling for a sound in the world):


    10. Another:


    Special bonus: Spell "onamatopoeia" without looking at the word:



    Examples of Sound Elements at Work

     

    from Jabberwocky

    `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.


    " Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!"

    He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought --
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

    --Lewis Carroll, 1872

    from Juicy

    It was all a dream
    I used to read Word Up magazine
    Salt'n'Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine
    Hangin' pictures on my wall
    Every Saturday: Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl
    …Born sinner, the opposite of a winner
    Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner
    … Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis
    When I was dead broke, man I couldn't picture this
    50 inch screen, money green leather sofa
    Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur
    Phone bill about two G's flat
    No need to worry, my accountant handles that
    … Thinkin' back on my one-room shack
    Now my mom pimps an Ac' with minks on her back
    And she loves to show me off, of course
    Smiles every time my face is up in The Source
    We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us
    No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us
    Birthdays was the worst days
    Now we sip champagne when we thirst-ay
    Uh, damn right I like the life I live
    'Cause I went from negative to positive
    And it's all good!.

    --Biggie Smalls (a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G.)

     

     

    The Windhover

    I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
    dom 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! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
    Stirred for a bird, -- the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!
    Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
    Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
    No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
    Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
    Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

    --Gerard Manley Hopkins

     

    Summer

    I like hot days, hot days,
    Sweat is what you got days
    Bugs buzzin from cousin to cousin
    Juices dripping
    Running and ripping
    Catch the one you love days

    Birds peeping
    Old men sleeping
    Lazy days, daisies lay
    Beaming and dreaming
    Of hot days, hot days,
    Sweat is what you got days

    --Walter Dean Myers (b.1937)

Last Modified on March 11, 2019