What is an example of assonance in Charles W. Kennedy's translation of Beowulf, lines 1 through 1895?  

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Assonance is the repetition of a similar vowel sound in a group of words.

[Assonance is r]epeating identical or similar vowels (especially in stressed syllables) in nearby words.

It is important to note that it is not the similar letter that creates assonance, but the same sound. For instance, "labor" and "weigh" are spelled differently, but the long "a" sound is present in both.

In Charles W. Kennedy's version of Beowulf, read the passage that opens this epic poem:

Lo! we have listened to many a lay
Of the Spear-Danes' fame, their splendor of old,
Their mighty princes, and martial deeds! (1-3)

In lines 1–2 above, assonance is present with the use of the long "a" sound found three times in "lay" and "-Danes' fame." One might argue that the word "their" that follows might also be included, as it is very similar in sound.

Additionally, there is the use of the short "a" sound in "Hall" and "Hart," and later in the line the use of the short "e" sound in the words "kept well."

The Hall of the Hart and the king kept well... (80)

The epic poem of Beowulf most especially appeals when read aloud (as old storytellers—or scops—in Anglo-Saxon times did) because the ear picks up the musical sounds of rhyme that run throughout the tale of the heroic Geat. With few forms of entertainment available when the days were short and cold, and there was little to do surrounding the fire with limited light, poems and songs (often the same thing) broke the monotony of the evening. Storytellers were greatly respected and sought after. Little was written (and few outside of the Church could write), so stories were memorized and passed along in the oral tradition, or by word of mouth.

Assonance, consonance, alliteration, and the rhythm of a piece is what most often caught the ear, the imagination, and the high regard of an Anglo-Saxon audience.


literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound within a line of poetry. An example of assonance is "the rash wants to dash away from my cash." While this does not necessarily make sense, the repetition of the "a" sound within rash, dash, and cash is obvious.

As for an example of assonance taken from Charles W. Kenneddy's translation of Beowulf, assonance is found in line 41.

To a mighty host'. Then his mind was moved.

In this line, the "i" sound in both mighty and mind denote assonance.

Another example of assonance is found in line 53.

The Hall of the Hart; and the king kept well.

Here, the "a" sound in hall and hart repeat. Again, this repetition of the vowel sound exemplifies assonance.

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