Last week I wrote about Alliteration. This week I am writing about its friend assonance.
Assonance (pronounced Ass-a-nins) occurs when a vowel sound within a word matches the same sound in a nearby word, but the surrounding consonant sounds are different. ‘Tune’ and ‘June’ are rhymes; ‘tune’ and ‘food’ are assonant, as is ‘time’ and ‘light.’ Assonance has also been called vowel rhyming.
The function of assonance is frequently the same as end rhymes and alliteration*(*defined as repetition of initial consonant), to give a sense of continuity or fluidity to a verse. Assonance might be particularly effective when a rhyme is absent for it gives the poet more flexibility.
Assonance is found more often in verse than in prose. It is used in English-language poetry, and is particularly important in Old French, Spanish and Celtic languages. In English verse, assonance was frequently found in traditional ballads, but it was not used as a deliberate technique until the late 19th and 20th centuries, and was often adopted by poets such as W.H. Auden and Dylan Thomas.
Dylan Thomas was a master at this technique (perhaps because he was a Celt).
“Do not go gently into that good night…..”
….”Rage, rage, against the dying of the light….”
In modern verse, stressed assonance is frequently used as a rhythmic device in rap. An example of this is Public Enemy: “Don’t believe the Hype.”
….”I’ve had it/I’m not an addict…”
….”I grab it/No, you can’t have it back, silly rabbit…”
Assonance, like alliteration, has been used successfully in advertising slogans.
“It beats… as it sweeps…as it cleans.” (Hoover vacuum cleaner, 1950s).
Many common assonant phrases such as ‘mad as a hatter’ ‘high as a kite’ are used on a daily basis.
Will Smith (his name has assonant sounds) used assonance, perhaps unintentional, when he said: “I have never seen so many Dominican with cinnamon tans.” (Miami) Assonance has also been used in proverbs. An example – ‘A stitch in time saves nine.’ The use of a single vowel is an extreme form of assonance – ‘he’s feeling weepy – seems creepy
So next time you go blue tilting at windmills, assonance is an art – mastery not mystery.
Last week I mentioned Kalla, a shapeshifter in my Fallyn trilogy, used alliteration in her verses. She uses assonance as well. I quote a line from my first book ‘Fallyn and the Dragons’, which uses both alliteration and assonance.
‘the sands of time stand still,’ or in ‘From the west on a journey blind’