Oliver Goldsmith

Start Free Trial

Which phrases from "The Village Schoolmaster" demonstrate alliteration?

Quick answer:

In "The Village Schoolmaster," phrases which demonstrate alliteration include "severe he was, and stern," "days disasters," "learned length," and "rustics rang'd."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Oliver Goldsmith uses quite a bit of alliteration in his poem "The Village Schoolmaster." Alliteration occurs when words in close proximity begin with the same consonant sounds.

We note alliteration in the s sounds in the first line of the poem:

Straggling fence that skirts.

The s sounds continue in the line below, placing emphasis on the words "severe" and "stern":

Severe he was, and stern.

Goldsmith uses repeated tr sounds to create alliteration in the line below:

Tremblers learn'd to trace.

In "days disasters," he places the alliterative words right next to each other.

The alliterative l sounds in the line below put emphasis on the most important words, linking them together:

The love he bore to learning.

A soft c sound creates alliteration in the following:

Twas certain he could write, and cipher too.

Alliteration joins "terms and tides," as well as "learned length" and "rustics rang'd."

Although Goldsmith uses rhyming couplets at the ends of lines as a primary way to create a sense of rhythm, the alliterations also add a pleasing rhythmic quality to the poem, underscoring the order and regularity of what the simple life was once like in the village when the schoolmaster was there. In contrast, as the speaker laments at the end, the very place—the village—where the schoolmaster once taught is now forgotten. The poem is one of several Goldsmith wrote to condemn the loss of English village life to enclosure, in which the owners of the land displaced residents.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial