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Friday, August 27, 2021

Literary terms - Alliteration


Literary terms Alliteration,tongue twisters,NONSENSE VERSE,Betty Botter,Piers the Plowman,William Langland

Literary terms - Alliteration:  

The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words or within words, as in the phrase in Macbeth "after life's fitful fever." Alliteration is used in both POETRY and PROSE for UNITY, EMPHASIS, and musical effect. An especially musical example is Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous DESCRIPTION of the sacred river Alph in his poem Kubla Khan:

Five miles meandering with mazy motion

Alliteration for the ludicrous effect is common in NONSENSE VERSE, jingles, and tongue twisters:


Betty Botter bought some butter,

But, said she, the butter's bitter;

If I put it in my batter

It will make my batter bitter,

But a bit of better butter,

That would make my batter better.


In English poetry, alliteration is a very old device, predating RHYME. The alliterative VERSE FORM used in the Old English poem Beowulf, in other early Germanic literature, and in much Middle English NARRATIVE poetry features alternating patterns of the alliteration on the accented words in the line, as in the following lines from Piers the Plowman, a Middle English poem by William Langland:


In a somer seson whan soft was the sonne,

I shope me in shroudes as I a shepe were,

In habite as an heremite unholy of workes,

Went wyde in this world wondres to here.


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