Is there alliteration in "To An Athlete Dying Young"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Let us remind ourselves that alliteration can be defined as the repetition of initial consonant sounds in a series of words that may or may not be close together. It is one way that poets create verbal music through this literary device. There are plenty of examples in this poem, such as "Townsman of a stiller town" and "Runners whome renown outran" are good examples, and the use of alliteration helps create the almost song-like feel of the poem, which enacts the slow, mournful speed of the funeral procession.

You might like to think about the way in which the poem ends with an example of alliteration:

And round that early-laureled head

Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,

And find unwithered on its curls

The garland briefer than a girl's.

Note the alliteration in the repetition of the "g" sound in "garland" and "girls." Such examples of alliteration make the poem memorable and catchy in terms of its rhythm and sound, making it important that we read such poems out when we study them rather than just reading them in our heads on the page.

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