Using Repetition in Poetry: Definitions and Purposes

Poetry is an art form, which can be created in a wide variety of ways. Most poetry styles have a unique pattern, which must be followed strictly. However, there are some forms that aren’t as strict and allow some leeway on what you can do. Using repetition allows you to reinforce ideas, add structure, create rhythm, create unity, and add additional emotion.

Different Types of Repetitions

First, let’s look at the different types of repetition used in poetry.

1. Assonance: This is the repetition of vowel sounds. An example of an assonance is “take and tame the forsaken name.” This form of repetition is used constantly within rap music and other forms of poetry.

2. Rhyme: Everyone knows rhyme, right? Not exactly. Most people are familiar with perfect rhyme–game and name–but have never heard of lazy-rhymes, which may be a little more similar to assonance, consonance or a little bit of both. Lazy-rhymes are used in rap music constantly, but have also occurred constantly in other forms of verse. An example is:

Prosperous / dangerous / cops could just / be blamin’ us

3. Consonance: This is similar to assonance but instead of repeating vowels it repeats the ever troubling but temptatious and terrific consonants. Consonance happens within a sentence or phrase.

4. Alliteration: This is similar to consonance; however, it happens only at the beginning of words. Alliteration happens when the sounds are nearby: “slippery sally”.

5. Line repetition: This is when the poet takes a line and repeats it one or more times throughout the poem.

Uses of Repetition

Now that we have that settled, why would you use any of these?

Assonance: Assonance greatly adds rhythm to poetry. In non-metered poetry author’s may use it to keep a rhythm and add unity. Of course, this may be used in all forms of verse for similar effects.

Rhyme: Rhyme is mostly used throughout the poetic world in order to keep, create, and structure rhythm. However, authors may also use it as a way to add humor.

Consonance: Consonance creates rhythm but can add a variety of emotions depending on how its used. Usually the emotions are negative but may be happy if you are creative enough. Nonetheless, it is used mostly by poets as a way of creating rhythm.

Alliteration: Alliteration, as far as rhythm is concerned, may be used to speed up a poem. On the other hand it may be used to provide humor or remembrance.

Line repetition: Line repetition may do several things. It can add unity. It can add structure, and it may even show some sort of change in the plot. Line repetition doesn’t always mean the line is an exact copy. Small changes may occur.

In today’s poetic world, anything goes. If you are creative, you can use a wide variety of repetition to do virtually anything you wish.

Gary R. Hess

Gary was born and raised on a small farm in rural Kansas. Today, he is teaching various nationalities English in Southeast Asia.

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