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Linking Letters:
A Poet's Guide to Alliterative Verse


Part IV: Alliteration: Linking Half-Lines Together

    Let's take two random half lines, and just stick them together, like this:

    an army was fleeing

            into deep jungle

    Two such half-lines, as they stand, are almost indistinguishable from prose. If we were writing free verse, that would not, perhaps, matter too much.

    But what we are discussing is structured verse, not free verse, and it needs to have a clearly measured rhythm, and a pattern which creates a kind of momentum as the poem is read aloud. And alliteration is the device used to measure out this rhythm.

    What is alliteration?

    Essentially, alliteration is repetition of beginning consonant sounds.

    For example, we could change the first half line above to make it alliterate, like this:

    an army was driven

            into deep jungle

    The alliterating consonant is D. The repetition of this consonant at the start of driven and deep ties the two half lines together, increases emphasis on these two key words, and builds a stronger rhythm.

Back: Building Poetry with Phrases
Next: Rules for alliteration

Copyright ©2000, Paul Deane