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Sound devices

The most frequent sound device are:

Identify of sound in the final syllables of words.
It usually occurs at line endings.
Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden to grief,
So dawn to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

(Robert Frost, Nothing Gold can stay, 1923)

Internal rhyme
When two rhyming words appear within the same line we have an internal rhyme.
At length did cross an Albatross
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

The rhyme creats a second pattern called rhyme scheme, usually expressed by the letters of the alphabet.

Jellicle Cats are black and white, a
Jellicle Cats are rather small; b
Jellical Cats are merry and bright, a
And pleasant to hear when they caterwaul, b
Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces, c
Jellicle Ctas have bright black eyes; d
They like to practice their airs and graces c
And wait for the jellicle Moon to rise. d

(from Old Possum’s Book of pratical Cats)

The beat, or rather internal pulse, created by the arrangement of stressed and unstressed syllables, whose combination gives a particular sense of movement and is meant to appeal to the ear as well as to reinforce meaning.
Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forest of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

(Willam Blake, from The tyger)

Repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words that are next or close to each other.

Full fathom five thy father lies
(William Shakespeare, from The Tempest)

Repetition of a vowel sound with a different end consonant.
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye

(Alfred Tennyson, from The Lady of Shalott)

Repetition of the end consonant with different vowel sound.
The grass is happy
To open her scents, like a dress through the country

(Ted Hughes, from Season, Hay)


Creation and use of words which imitate the sound that they describe.
O Jesus Christ! I’m hit’ he said and said.
Whether he vainly cursed, or prayed indeed,
The Bullets chirped – In vain! Vain! Vain!
Machine-guns chucked, “Tut-tut! Tut-tut!”

And the Big Gun guffawed.
(Wilfred Owen, The Last Laugh)

A unifying device between sound and meaning is repetition. It may involve sounds, syllables, words, phrases, stanzas, or feature of language. Basically, it is used to emphasize ideas. But it also contributes to the patterning of a literary work and to its musical effects.

O horrible! O horrible! Most horrible!
(Shakespeare, from Hamlet)

Alone, alone, all all alone,
Alone on the wide wide Sea

(Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

Another important device, which involves rhythm, meaning and syntax. It consists in the grammatical continuation from one line to the next. It affects rhythm because it can create an idea of tension and speed in progress. But it can also serve to highlight, or link, certain words, thus emphasizing ideas or creating an association of consepts.

I think I know enough of hate
To say hat for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

(Robert Frost, from Fire and Ice)

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