What is the effect of alliteration, assonance and consonance in the poem "Epithalamium" by Louise Gluck?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound within a line of poetry. Similarly, assonance is the same repetition within a line of poetry, but the sound is that of a vowel. Consonance, therefore, is the combination of both assonance and alliteration given that consonance is the recurrence of similar sounds when in close proximity.

The use of alliteration and assonance was first highlighted in Anglo-Saxon poetry and epics. The scops (the singers of the poems and epics) found that (assumptive based upon critical research of the period) the repetition of similar sounds translated well into song.

Therefore, the use of both alliteration and assonance (or consonance when joined) creates a sing-song aspect when used in poetry. The words tend to roll off of the tongue easier and create a very specific mood (one of elegiac (sad remembrance) or bold (when used when speaking of the heroic battles of Epic heroes)).

In Louis Gluck's poem "Epithalamium," alliteration and assonance add to the mournful mood of the poem. The poem speaks to memories, pain and death (typical of the elegiac and lyrical poems seen in the Anglo period). The opposites proposed by Gluck offer a hard contrast to the joy of marriage and the pain of abuse.

Therefore, the speaker's voice carries a mournful and almost hymn-like tone. The alliteration and assonance support the tone of the poem.

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