alliteration

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alliteration

(əlĭt'ərā`shən), the repetition of the same starting sound in several words of a sentence. Probably the most powerful rhythmic and thematic uses of alliteration are contained in Beowulf, written in Anglo-Saxon and one of the earliest English poems extant. For example:
Ða com of more under mist-hleopum
Grendel gongan; Godes yrre baer …
(Then came from the moor, under the misty hills,
Grendel stalking; the God's anger bare).
Beowulf, Book XI
The poet was drawing here on an even older Germanic tradition, just as he was setting a high standard for other poets in Anglo-Saxon, who produced such alliterative works as Widsith, Deor's Lament, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and The Ruin. Although the tradition lay dormant for centuries, an alliterative revival occurred in England in the mid-1400s, as evidenced by such masterworks as Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (see Langland, WilliamLangland, William,
c.1332–c.1400, putative author of Piers Plowman. He was born probably at Ledbury near the Welsh marshes and may have gone to school at Great Malvern Priory. Although he took minor orders he never became a priest.
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; Pearl, ThePearl, The,
one of four Middle English alliterative poems, all contained in a manuscript of c.1400, composed in the West Midland dialect, almost certainly by the same anonymous author, who flourished c.1370–1390.
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). Shakespeare parodies alliteration in Peter Quince's Prologue in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely breach'd his boiling bloody breast.
Modern poets have continually renewed the possibilities of alliteration, e.g., Gerard Manley Hopkins's "Pied Beauty":
Glory be to God for dappled things …
Landscapes plotted and pieced—fold, fallow and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
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alliteration

the use of the same consonant (consonantal alliteration) or of a vowel, not necessarily the same vowel (vocalic alliteration), at the beginning of each word or each stressed syllable in a line of verse, as in around the rock the ragged rascal ran
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Our discipline, clinical chemistry, is rich with examples of alliteration. The title of this journal, Clinical Chemistry, is an alliteration.
I recently published an A to Z collection of alliterative verse entitled Alliteration, Again and Again.
Simple alliteration of two words is such a normal part of English that it is often hard to tell if the alliterations are intended for an effect or merely coincidental.
In the first example, we find three stressed-syllable alliterations (and a fourth unstressed) in one line:
The acoustic features of the autobiography's English moiety, Speak, Memory and its antecedent texts, are highly diverse in form and function, but for the preliminary purposes of this essay, they may be assigned to the category of alliteration, with subsidiary instances of assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia, and paronomasia.
alliterative sequence (parallel or crossed alliteration).
Both Old and late Middle English poetry evince the same regular pattern of alliteration across the line (Duggan 1986), and both of them strictly regulate unstressed syllables within the half-line (Cable 1988; Duggan 1988).
Contrary to what past generations of metrists have maintained, they argue, building on Yakovlev's theory, that alliteration is not a structural feature of English alliterative versification.
My main interest, though, here concerns alliteration. Technically speaking, only one-third of "Logan" counts as an alliterative poem--but every line suggests the politics of poetic meter.
Each half-line contains two stresses, and the first half-line (or on-verse) bears alliteration on one or both of its stresses whereas the second half-line (or off-verse) bears alliteration on its first stressed word only.
The presence or absence of alliteration is not decisive.
But in most verses, finite verbs have metrical stress, as is evident from their position in the line and the pattern of alliteration. Examples include thrym gefrunon (2b) and the hie aer drugon (15a).