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Using Alliteration to Enhance Emotion in Poetry

Poetry calls for emotion, in the writing of the poet and in the mind of the reader. However, many wonder how to create emotion in their writing. One way to heighten emotion is to use poetic devices.

Poetic devices, when used with imaginative language, help create that necessary emotion in poetry. Let’s look at alliteration and see how its use can help create emotion.

“What the hell is alliteration?” asks the poetry student. “Sounds like something that would make me itch or something.”

Not at all, but it might tickle your ears. Alliteration, in general, is the repetition of an initial sound (usually a constant initial sound) that occurs close enough to each other to capture the attention and the ear.

Little blue boy, come blow your horn from Mother Goose is a prime example of alliteration, all those beautiful b’s together.

“Fine and elegant,” asks the student, “but where is there any emotion in that?”

Just give me time, and I’ll get there. Ish, some people are so impatient.

Now if we take some alliteration and mix it with language that represents the mood or emotion we want, voila!

Like garishly wrapped gifts

gathering dust in the back of my mind,

Memories bother me mercilessly.

The above lines invoke a sense of joy, perhaps a bit of happiness, by using the words garishly wrapped gifts and teasing. But they also leave a lingering sense of sadness with the words gathering dust. Both emotions, however, are enhanced and united with the use of alliteration: shrilly, gifts, meeting; mind, memories, me, mercilessly.

Let’s look at some other examples.

Boring, monotonous day, you throw away heaps

Of sadness in apparently sleepy life.

The emotion created by those two lines is depression or sadness. Again the alliteration makes the emotion stronger.

“Okay, I think I’m starting to get the idea,” admits the student.

So let’s look at one more example, shall we?

Cheerful and laughing girls huddle together

as if the birds were chirping in the branches of the trees.

Here we have happiness showing itself through alliteration.

Alliteration is just one method, one device, that can be used to heighten emotion in our writing. We can read, learn and practice until we have improved that image.


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