From Edgar Allan Poe to Carol Ann Duffy and Siegfried Sassoon, poets use alliteration from every period, country, stylistic grouping, and poetic movement. But, the reason for using this common literary device varies. Some of these authors might want to enhance the rhythm of a specific line or use alliteration to draw attention to a specific image.
Best Poems with Alliteration
- 1 Icarus by Edward Field
- 2 The Colossus by Sylvia Plath
- 3 Astrophobos by H. P. Lovecraft
- 4 The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe
- 5 By night we linger’d on the lawn by Alfred Lord Tennyson
- 6 The Armadillo by Elizabeth Bishop
- 7 Sick by Shel Silverstein
- 8 Preference by Charlotte Brontë
- 9 Birches by Robert Frost
- 10 Winter Snow by Sara Teasdale
- 11 The Death Bed by Siegfried Sassoon
- 12 Mrs. Midas by Carol Ann Duffy
- 13 FAQs
Icarus by Edward Field
In ‘Icarus,’ Field explores the myth of Icarus and places the story in a new, contemporary context. Throughout, the poet also demonstrates skillful examples of alliteration. For example, consider these lines:
Only the feathers floating around the hat
Showed that anything more spectacular had occurred
Here, the poet uses the “f” sound twice in “feathers floating” and the “s” sound (which can also be considered an example of sibilance) in “Showed” and “spectacular.” “Hat” and “had” is one further example of alliteration in these two lines.
Read more Edward Field poems.
This moving poem inspired by Plath’s relationship with her father uses alliteration and numerous images to depict her father as a fallen statue and her as his keeper. For example:
Scaling little ladders with glue pots and pails of lysol
I crawl like an ant in mourning
Over the weedy acres of your brow
Here, Plath uses alliteration with “little ladders” and “pots and pails.” Readers might also note the use of consonance with “lysol” and “like.”
Explore more Sylvia Plath poems.
Astrophobos by H. P. Lovecraft
This unique Lovecraft poem demonstrates the author’s skill with allusion and the use of mythological images. It also includes a few good examples of alliteration. For instance, the second stanza which reads:
Mystic waves of beauty blended
With the gorgeous golden rays;
Phantasies of bliss descended
In a myrrh’d Elysian haze;
And in lyre-born chords extended
Harmonies of Lydian lays.
Here, Lovecraft creates examples of alliteration with “beauty blended,” “gorgeous golden,” “lyre-born” and “Lydian lays.”
Discover more H.P. Lovecraft poems.
‘The Bells’ is a well-known example of alliteration within Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Throughout, the poet depicts the various sounds bells make and the events they symbolize. Here are a few of the best lines:
Hear the sledges with the bells—
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
Poe uses the “b” in “bells” numerous times throughout this poem. Within these first lines, he also repeats “tinkle” and uses alliteration with “merriment” and “melody.”
Read more Edgar Allan Poe poems.
‘By night we linger’d on the lawn’ is a famous excerpt from Tennyson’s much longer ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ It uses alliteration within the following lines:
And calm that let the tapers burn
Unwavering: not a cricket chirr’d:
The brook alone far-off was heard,
And on the board the fluttering urn:
Explore more Alfred Lord Tennyson poems.
The Armadillo by Elizabeth Bishop
‘The Armadillo’ demonstrates alliteration in the following lines:
Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!
O falling fire and piercing cry
and panic, and a weak mailed fist
clenched ignorant against the sky!
Readers can note Bishop’s use of “falling fire,” “piercing,” and “panic” as well as “mimicry” and “mailed” in this final stanza of ‘The Armadillo.’
Discover more Elizabeth Bishop poems.
This well-loved children’s poem contains numerous examples of alliteration. The use of alliteration is fairly common in poems for young readers. Authors use it to make interesting sounding lines and interesting lines to read that should keep a child’s attention. For example:
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
Explore more Shel Silverstein poems.
Preference by Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Preference’ contains a few great examples of alliteration. For example:
Not in scorn do I reprove thee,
Not in pride thy vows I waive,
But, believe, I could not love thee,
Wert thou prince, and I a slave.
These, then, are thine oaths of passion?
This, thy tenderness for me?
Judged, even, by thine own confession,
Thou art steeped in perfidy.
In the first stanza of the poem, readers can find “pride,” “prince,” “passion,” and “perfidy” as great examples of alliteration, as well as “These, then,” and “thing” in line five of this stanza. This is followed by “This,” “tenderness,” and “thine” in lines six and seven.
Read more Charlotte Brontë poems.
‘Birches’ is one of Frost’s best-known poems and one of his best examples of alliteration as a literary device. Here are a few of the most applicable lines:
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Here, some of the examples include “cracks” and “crazes” and “Soon” and “sun’s.”
Explore more Robert Frost poems.
In ‘Winter Snow,’ readers can spot a few effective examples of alliteration. Consider these lines from stanza three:
From windows in my father’s house,
Dreaming my dreams on winter nights,
I watched Orion as a girl
Above another city’s lights.
Here, Teasdale uses “Dreaming” and “dreams” in order to enhance the rhythm of the poem. It also adds to the overall atmosphere of this well-known piece.
Discover more Sara Teasdale poems.
In the seven-stanza poem ‘The Death Bed’, there are a few interesting examples of alliteration readers might note. While Sassoon speaks about the suffering and eventual peaceful death of a soldier mortally wounded in World War I, he also uses alliteration skillfully. For example:
Water—calm, sliding green above the weir;
Water—a sky-lit alley for his boat,
Bird-voiced, and bordered with reflected flowers
And shaken hues of summer: drifting down,
He dipped contented oars, and sighed, and slept.
Read more Siegfried Sassoon poems.
Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Mrs. Midas’ is an incredibly creative poem that uses a variety of literary devices. These include alliteration, allusion, and imagery. Below are a few lines that contain examples of alliteration:
He toyed with his spoon, then mine, then with the knives, the forks.
He asked where was the wine. I poured with a shaking hand,
a fragrant, bone-dry white from Italy, then watched
as he picked up the glass, goblet, golden chalice, drank.
Discover more Carol Ann Duffy poems.
Poets use alliteration for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, they use it in order to create rhythm within lines of verse. This can be incredibly important if a poem is written in free verse. Additionally, they can use it in order to draw attention to a specific image.
To write a poem that uses alliteration, the only thing a writer has to do is repeat words that start with the same consonant sound. For example, “cat” and “caught” or “wish” and “want.” Anytime this occurs, you have an example of alliteration.
‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allan Poe is one of the best-known examples of alliteration in poetry. Throughout, the poet uses repetition in multiple forms to create a haunting rhythm and atmosphere. For example, “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.”
No, while both depend on the repetition of consonant sounds, consonance can be found within words, not just in their initial sounds. For example, the “t” sound in these lines from ‘The Tyger’ by William Blake: “And what shoulder, & what art, / Could twist the sinews of thy heart? / And when thy heart began to beat, / What dread hand? & what dread feet?”