Assonance Meaning And Why it’s Not Just in Poetry

Assonance meaning cover image

Speak sweet and the masses will heed, these lines were said by some great philosopher who also happens to be the writer of this article. But notice how the word sounds when it is uttered. There is a rhythmic symmetry to it, a sort of harmony. This is what the meaning of assonance is. It is the repetition of the vowel sound in a single line, sometimes consecutively. But that isn’t all. 

Assonance is like rhythm, but instead of rhyming at the end of the lines, it is based on the rhyme within a single line, be it poem, prose, or even just plain verbal conversation. But everything is explained better with an example. 

Not just harmony or rhythm, but assonance can also control the pace of the poem or prose. Short and singular vowel sounds increase the pace of reading while long sounds make the readers read the words slowly. Let’s take a look at these examples;

I lay wasted, dazed from the craze, lost, and amazed.

A Poet

The bold “a” in these words are all similar phonetically. Assonance is about how the vowel sounds, irrespective of the position of the rhyming vowel. The “a” sounds of lay and wasted produce assonance, but not the “a” sounds of craze and end in the same line.

The streaming of your smile kept me dreaming all night.

The same poet

Reading this line must have been slow and steady. This is because the assonance occurs in long words and is distantly placed. There are four syllables for assonance, just one less than the previous example. But since they are spaced out and presented alternatively, the pace is reduced. 

These examples must have given you a fair understanding of the meaning of assonance. But what’s the use of this literary device and what makes it different from rhyme? 

The meaning of assonance

Examples of assonance in poetry 

If we had to name one poet who never hesitated from using assonance, that poet would be Edgar Allan Poe. Here are some examples from his poems where he has used assonance quite liberally;

You can find examples of assonance in almost every line of the poem The Raven. Here are some examples: 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door—

“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

               Only this and nothing more.”

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 name Lenore—

               Nameless here for evermore.

The surprising use of assonance which you don’t notice

Assonance exists in every language, written or spoken. It is produced knowingly and unknowingly. The use of assonance in poetry is very clear; to make the poem sound better and add another dimension to it. But it is not overused because then it becomes too obvious.

In poetry, assonance also adds a rhythm to the verses, a beat to the poem as the similar-sounding vowels represent the stressed syllables of the lines. It makes the poem harmonious. The poem becomes interesting not just based on the meaning of the words, but how those words are read. 

Let’s see how assonance adds symmetry to poems that rhythm fails to. Take a look at these lines and notice how they sound (read it out loud if you’d like to);

  • On a proud round cloud in a white high night
  • The bells tell song of jingling and tingling 
  • Bugs buzzing from cousin to cousin 
  • Run from the sun until it rains again 
  • Here and there the heartbeats and repeats

Now, notice how the stressed syllables rhyme in a pair of two? The assonance creates symmetry in the sentence, making it sound uniform, clean, and harmonious. It feels pleasant to read these sentences, even though they don’t hold any particular meaning since they are out of context. In prose and speech, assonance gives words a poetic feel.

Assonance is present in many places, yet we rarely take notice of it. The surprising thing about assonance is while it is mostly used in poetry, many companies use assonance to create advertisement campaigns to convince the customers. This is because assonance has a rhythm and rhythm gets your attention.

Even the articles that you read use assonance to get your attention. Look at the title of this article and notice if you can find where I have used assonance. Not just in written form but assonance is also used in verbal form. Songs use assonance often since assonance is all about sounding melodious. Rap is a genre where assonance is very much prevalent, although rappers using assonance sounds so out of place.

Our day to day language, the expressions we use, the synonyms we create all have some examples of assonance. Notice how we call girlish movies chick flick? Or how during a sale you hear the phrase shop till you drop? Walk the talk? Meet and greet? All of these are examples of assonance. 

Assonance makes the sentence sound interesting, it takes attention towards it and hence is it so popular. We’ll conclude the article here since everything relevant to the core topic has been mentioned. We hope that the meaning of assonance was elucidated with this article. You can read more articles if you’d like to stay a little longer with us;

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