Glossary Home Literary Device


Consonance is the repetition of a consonant sound in words, phrases, sentences, or passages in prose and verse writing.

Consonance is usually connected with poetic verse. It is one of several techniques that utilize sound in order to create added emphasis on the rhyme and rhythm of a particular poem. But, it is not solely used in poetry. There are examples of it in prose as well. 

Consonance is often defined alongside assonance. The two are connected but inherently different. Assonance refers to the repetition of a vowel sound. 


Purpose of Consonance 

While consonance is used in several different forms of writing it is most effective when it comes to poetry. Writers who employ standard rhyme schemes and metrical patterns as well as those who are engaged with more experimental forms and freezers are liable to use consonants. It is helpful to riders in that it’s able to create the feeling of rhythm without the poet actually having to structure the palm in a particular metrical pattern. The same can be said for rhyme. It adds a lyrical feeling to the pond that might not otherwise exist.

The words are interconnected in a way that is not entirely obvious to those who are unfamiliar with the technique. Like many other techniques, this particular literary device can be used to draw emphasis to a particular passage word or phrase. By using a consonant sound numerous times in a row, the poet will be able to ensure that the reader notices that line or sentence more so than the ones surrounding it.

Consonance is also used to mimic sounds, it can appear in onomatopoeic phrases. For example, “clitter clatter” or “pitter patter”.


Examples of Consonance in Poetry

Example #1 The Tyger by William Blake

‘The Tyger’ is perhaps Blake’s most famous poem. It is certainly one of his most studied. It was published in 1794 in Songs of Experience. In it, a close reader can find examples of consonance. Take a look at the first two lines of the poem and see if you can spot the repeated consonant sounds:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
The “r” sound is repeated in “Tyger,” “burning,” “bright,” and “forests”. The “t” sound is also used multiple times, in “Tyger,” “bright,” ” forests,” and “night”. This choice on Blake’s part allows the words to increase the rhythm in his already very steady rhyme scheme and metrical pattern. Here is the third stanza where there are a few more examples:
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?
The steadiness of the rhythm starts to mimic the heartbeat that is mentioned in these very lines. It feels as though something is building up, ready to show off its strength. Here, there is an even more obvious repetition of words including hard “t,” “b” and “d” consonants.


Example #2 Out, Out by Robert Frost

One of Frost’s best poem, ‘Out Out’ is a disturbing narrative about a boy who gets his hand cut off and can’t quite believe its happened to him. Take a look at the first three lines of this poem for examples of consonance:

The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.

Here, there are good examples with the repetition of the “s” consonant sound as well as “d” and “t”.


Example #3 Sonnet 64: When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d by William Shakespeare

One of Shakespeare’s famous Fair Youth sonnets‘Sonnet 64,’ uses personification in order to describe the way that time consumes everything it creates. Here are three lines from the final quatrain of the sonnet:

Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
It is easy to spot the repetition of the “s” consonant sound in all three lines of this excerpt. There are also examples of the repetition of the “l,” and “d” sounds.

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