Acrostic Poem Examples

Acrostic Poems Using the First Letter

Here are some examples using the common method of spelling a word with the first letters of each line:

Spelling out “candy”…

Crunchy chewy

Awesome

Nice and sweet

Delightful and delicious

Yummy treat

Spelling out “cats”…

Cuddly

Acrobatic

Tenacious and terrifying

Softly purring

Spelling out “fear”…

Frightening

Eerie and strange

Anxiety rises

Ready to flee

Spelling out “spring”…

Sunny days

Plants awakening

Raindrops on the roof

Interesting clouds

New flowers

Gray skies

Spelling out “house”…

Home

Open and inviting

Universal

Safe and warm

Everything

Acrostic Poems Using Different Positions

Here are some examples of using letters at the end of the line or in different places in each line. The letters that spell out the word are still capitalized:

Spelling out “poem”…

Pick uP a pen

Think of a tOpic

Be crEative

Use your iMagination

Spelling out “food”…

Chicken or beeF

Rice or potatO

Broccoli or tomatO

White wine or reD

Spelling out “sports”…

FootballS and basketballs

UmPires and refs

Defending yOur goal

ScoRing goals

A real Team effort

Crowd goeS wild

Spelling out “star”…

Shines and twinkleS

In the nighT

There is a plethorA

Forever and eveR

Spellling out “school”…

RowS of desks

TeaChers explain

Pencils sHarpened

Going Over the facts

Writing pOems and essays

The belL rings, finally

Acrostic Poems That Spell Names

Here are some examples where the letters spell out someone’s name:

Spelling out “Marion”…

Magnificent, a creature of wonder

Alluring, so attractive

Reliable, a buddy you can count on

Interesting, truly fascinating

Obliging, willing to accommodate

Nice, a sweet soul

Spelling out “Betty”…

Beaming, so joyful

Elegant, so graceful

Tantalizing, thrilling the senses

Thorough, attentive to details

Yearning, a drive to succeed

Spelling out “Sophia”…

Serene, a calming quality

Organized, you always have it together

Picturesque, strikingly beautiful

Honest, so genuine

Imaginative, a creative mind

Alluring, so attractive

Spelling out “Roberto”…

Rebellious, going against the grain

Oomph, you have a magnetic draw

Buoyant, abound with energy

Enchanting, a charming presence

Reassuring, a comforting presence

Trustworthy, your word is good as gold

Obliging, willing to accommodate

Spelling out “Willliam”…

Worthy, your friendship is a gift

Illustrious, bright and accomplished

Lively, the life of the party

Light-hearted, you have an easy laughter

Inspirational, the ability to motivate

Approachable, people turn to you for help

Merry, abundant joy

Acrostic Poems in Literature

Here are some examples:

“An Acrostic” by Edgar Allan Poe…

Elizabeth it is in vain you say

“Love not” – thou sayest it in so sweet a way:

In vain those words from thee or L. E. L.

Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:

Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,

Breathe it less gently forth – and veil thine eyes.

Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried

To cure his love – was cured of all beside –

His folly – pride – and passion – for he died.

From “Georgiana Augusta Keats” by John Keats…

Kind sister! aye, this third name says you are;

Enchanted has it been the Lord knows where;

And may it taste to you like good old wine,

Take you to real happiness and give

Sons, daughters and a home like honied hive.

Acrostic by Lewis Carroll…

Little maidens, when you look

On this little story-book,

Reading with attentive eye

Its enticing history,

Never think that hours of play

Are your only HOLIDAY. (Lorina)

And that in a HOUSE of joy

Lessons serve but to annoy:

If in any HOUSE you find

Children of a gentle mind,

Each the others pleasing ever. (Alice)

Each the others vexing never-

Daily work and pastime daily

In their order taking gaily-

Then be very sure that they

Have a life of HOLIDAY. (Edith)

“Acrostic from Aegina” by David Mason

Anemones you brought back from the path

Nod in a glass beside our rumpled bed.

Now you are far away. In the aftermath

Even these flowers arouse my sleepy head.

Love, when I think of the ready look in your eyes,

Erotas that would make these stone walls blush

Nerves me to write away the morning’s hush.

Nadir of longing, and the red anemones

Over the lucent rim-my poor designs,

X-rated praise I’ve hidden between these lines.

“Stroud” by Paul Hansford

Set among hills in the midst of five valleyS,

This peaceful little market town we inhabiT

I Wandered Lonely As A…Dandelion? – Poem by William Barton

A plague on your daffodils, Mr Wordsworth.
Granted, daffodils look very fine – harbinger of spring and such,
But they just stand about admiring themselves
or head-tossing and fluttering in a freezing gale,
and you can buy a pot in any corner shop.
The trouble with daffodils is that they turn up
at such a miserable time of the year – snow, ice, fog etc –
season of flu and fruity cold-full-ness.
As a countryman you should have written a poem about
“a crowd, a host of…dandelions”
Dandelion time is another packet of seeds;
A few sunny days in April, a shower or two,
there’s blossom on the trees, and birds singing,
And before you can say, “Taraxacum officinale”
Your garden is knee deep in dandelions.
Dandelions are tough and stubborn,
deep-rooted and hard to shift.
Pick a fight with a dandelion and you’ll lose.
Dig them up, throw them away or burn them
and next year they’re blooming, bigger than ever.
Call them all the rude names you can find: –
Cankerwort, Clock Flower, Irish Daisy, Lion’s Tooth, Milk Witch, Monk’s Head, Piss-a-bed, Priest’s Crown, Puffball, Swine Snout-
They’ll just parachute off to your favourite flower bed.
Much better just to call a truce.
You can’t eat daffodils but as for dandelions
you can use them to make delicious wine
or eat them raw in tasty salads.
They also contain a whole pharmacy of medical ingredients –
enough to cure an entire infirmary of ailments.
If you’re not sure of the time, or the state of your love life,
or wish to send a message to your friend,
or hope to have a wish come true, or are anxious
to discover the age at which you will die,
just blow on a dandelion clock.
So, dear, misguided Mr Wordsworth;
If you want a flower that’s bright and bonny,
Painted by the artist, Monet,
Then choose a plant you can rely on,
go dancing with the dandelion.

Writing in 1818, Samuel Taylor Coleridge characterises romantic landscape poetry as “the mediatress between, and reconciler of nature and man”. This description holds true for William Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey, an eighteenth century prospect poem that summons spiritual meaning out of nature through introspection and metaphorical explorations of the physical world. Likewise, it is possible to claim that A. R. Ammons’ Corsons Inlet, an American poem similarly composed following a walking tour, shares the Romantic tradition of expressing a deep emotional connection with rustic surroundings. However, through his wandering depiction of the randomness and emergence of nature, Ammons offers a critique of the Romantic tradition, instead using loco-descriptive verse to express his sense of membership and discovery of the New World. The ways in which the poets respond to both their surroundings and wider social changes, such as the process of Enlightenment, differ significantly, therefore making it possible to regard Ammons’ ambulatory poem as a post-Romantic rejoinder to Tintern Abbey. As an eighteenth century prospect poem, Tintern Abbey is irrevocably shaped by the historical circumstances in which it was written. Composed during a period of significant doubt towards previously accepted doctrines and a gradual shift to rationalist thought, Wordsworth’s piece implicitly rejects the standards of traditional Christianity, instead beginning to replace it with a new, more exclusive, form of worship towards nature’s beauty. This is made immediately apparent through the poem’s opening stanza, which sensuously depicts the “soft inland murmur” and “steep and lofty cliffs” (7) of the banks of the Wye in intricate detail, thus elevating Wordsworth’s natural surroundings to an almost spiritual level. In the face of God’s absence within the poem, the distant form of Tintern Abbey serves as a place of solace and guidance, enabling Wordsworth to draw parallels between the natural world and more formal places of learning, such as schools. For example, the narrator demonstrates how childhood memories of the abbey have acted as a guide in difficult times (“How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee”), aiding him in a restorative process of self-discovery. The reverent manner in which Wordsworth describes his surroundings as a refuge against “the heavy and the weary weight / Of all this unintelligible world” (46-7) establishes his piece as an alternative cultural force to the Enlightenment, thus rendering his attitude towards the natural world characteristic of much British pastoral poetry during the Romantic period. Through his description of the rich tranquillity of the Wye, therefore, Wordsworth displays a sense of yearning for a utopian place of escape and a pure, uninterrupted communion with nature. In this way, it is possible to claim that Ammons’ Corsons Inlet is emblematic of the American people’s actual achievement of this Eden-like state. The poet’s depiction of the “hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends / and blends” of the southern New Jersey shore captures the exhilarating unpredictability of nature in a post-Enlightenment age, and the potential of the vast wilderness beyond the frontier. On a surface level, this sense of discovery is reflected through the poem’s wandering form, a technique that marks a departure from conventional metres and verse. Much like the unhurried meandering of the narrator himself, the lines protrude and curve down the page, thereby mirroring Ammons’ scattered thoughts and responses: I went for a walk over the dunes again this morning to the sea, then turned right along the surf rounded a naked headland and returned along the inlet shore: (1-8)We are reminded of the irregular and unmapped nature of the American landscape, largely symbolic of the new rivers of thought and cultural possibilities following the Enlightenment. It is important to note that Ammons is writing after the groundbreaking work of Charles Darwin, a writer who, similarly, was inspired by the poetry of Wordsworth. Darwin’s discoveries regarding evolution transformed the way in which the natural world was viewed, a change that manifests itself in Corson Inlet’s loco-descriptive verse, thereby suggesting that Enlightenment has led to thoughts of disorder and uncertainty. This incertitude is encapsulated through Ammons’ claim: “in nature there are few sharp lines” (41), a line that suggests that twentieth century existence can no longer be expressed through prescribed descriptions and absolute terms. Rather than succumb to the despotism of straight lines, Ammons possibly feels that his American identity is better reflected through ambiguities and unconventional poetic form. Thus, his departure from British predecessors, such as Wordsworth, whose poetry is often reliant upon memory and reflection, highlights a poignant form of innovation displayed in Corsons Inlet and evinces a new sense of emergence and continual discovery. In contrast to Ammons’ ambulatory descriptive style, Wordsworth lays emphasis on the concept of distance throughout Tintern Abbey, in both physical and metaphorical terms. For example, the poet’s allusion to “vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods”(27) is deliberately vague, prompting Clark to claim that Wordsworth tends to recall features that are “just out of sight or beyond definition”. As such, he follows the British pastoral tradition of describing the mere result of the shaping of land, rather than the process of shaping itself. This enables the poet to take a step backwards and construct a reflective account of his emotional and spiritual relationship with nature. Using his position of distance from Tintern Abbey, Wordsworth attaches a wider significance to what he sees by contemplating affecting ideas of memory and loss. This sense of meditation is largely achieved through the dislocation of the abbey – Wordsworth expresses how memories of the banks regularly work upon the narrator even during his time “’mid the din / Of towns and cities” (33-4), demonstrating how rural scenery can hold a considerable influence over the thoughts and actions of mankind. As Alan Bewell notes, Wordsworth sought to make a “universal statement” in his writing, using his depiction of the Wye as a vehicle to create “a major moral philosophical statement of what humans have been, what they are, and what they ideally might become”. As a consequence, Wordsworth’s neglect of the mechanics of nature enables him to write an overarching, reflective piece on man’s spiritual and emotional ties with the natural world.Conversely, the complex processes of rural landscape are displayed in Corsons Inlet, with the narrator in the midst of nature in all its rawness. His proximity to the base, mysterious aspects of wildlife is augmented by the shades of brutality within the poem, namely Ammons’ description of how a seagull “cracked a crab, / picked out the entrails, swallowed the soft / shelled legs, a ruddy / turnstone running in to snatch leftover bits” (98-101). While this grisly depiction of natural behaviour may have been intended to symbolise the ruthless materialism of a capitalist American society, Ammons shows a reluctance to explore wider philosophical themes within his poem. Indeed, he asserts that “Overall is beyond me” (36), thereby alluding to the impossibility of achieving an “overall” understanding in the ambiguous and erratic world that the poem evokes. Instead, Ammons records his journey through the labyrinth of the New Jersey shore and, in a similar vein to Wordsworth, surrenders himself to the striking power of nature. In this way, we are reminded of the literary ties connecting Ammons’ twentieth century piece to Tintern Abbey. Both poems, written during periods of rapid social change, are characteristic of pastoral poetry’s tendency to describe a strong emotional bond between the poet and their natural surroundings. Wordsworth and Ammons clearly regard nature as a liberating means of escaping the “perpendiculars, / straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds” of daily life, and a crucial agent in our discovery of our own identities. Furthermore, Ammons’ juxtaposition of the dull, clinical nature of thought with the “flowing bends” and “shadings” (20) of sight illustrates how the poet shows a “willingness, nearly an urgency, to surrender his own agency to the natural world”. In the light of this, it is possible that Wordsworth’s address to his “dear, dear Sister” could in fact be directed towards the American poets of the nineteenth and twentieth century, who indeed “catch / The language of my former heart” (132-3) and “read” the “former pleasures” of nature through new eyes. Consequently, this sense of transition ensures that, rather than regarding both poems as contrasting pieces of writing, it would be more accurate to interpret Corsons Inlet as a development of the British Romantic tradition. In conclusion, it is clear that Ammons’ Corsons Inlet draws inspiration from the poetry of precursory British Romantics, including Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey. Nevertheless, his writing is not simply an extension of the poetic forms of his predecessors. Indeed, Ammons’ depiction of nature’s unmarked ambiguity, coupled with his adoption of a meandering ambulatory form, defies many aspects of the established pastoral verse, thereby crucially developing the English tradition in order to express his own identity as an American. This consequently suggests that the child-like communion with nature that Wordsworth longs for in Tintern Abbey is actually achieved through the settling and development of the New World, thus enabling modern American poets to experience nature’s rich “life and food for future years”.References:Samuel Taylor Coleridge, On Poesy or Art. (Cambridge, Massachussetts: Harvard University Press, 1914).Joseph Warren Beach, The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth-Century English Poetry. (New York: Macmillan, 1936), p. 115. C.C. Clarke, Romantic Paradox. (Oxford: Alden Press Ltd, 1962), p. 51. Alan Bewell, Wordsworth and the Enlightenment. (Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1989), pp.35-8 J.T. Barbarese, “Theology for Atheists: Reading Ammons”, in Journal of Modern Literature 36: 3/4 .

I wandered lonely as a Cloud (Daffodils)

Lines 1-2

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and Hills,

  • The speaker describes how he walked around and felt as lonely as a cloud. He doesn’t say, “walked around,” but uses the much more descriptive word “wandered.”
  • “Wandered” means roaming around without a purpose, like when you explore something. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But in its metaphorical use, “wandered” can mean feeling purposeless and directionless in general. As in, you have questions like, “What’s the meaning of my life?”
  • The first concept that we want to take a look at is that the cloud is “lonely.” Asking questions about what this means will help us get into the poem.
  • Are clouds lonely? Well, maybe the ones that float about valleys (“vales”) and hills are lonely. It’s more likely, the speaker is projecting his own loneliness on the clouds. But that still doesn’t explain the strange image, because clouds usually travel in groups. (Except in cartoons where you can have a single rain cloud following Wiley E. Coyote around just to ruin his day.)
  • Maybe a cloud is lonely because it is so far above the rest of the world. Its thoughts are just so “lofty,” and maybe the speaker’s thoughts are, too.
  • Also, the cloud could be lonely because it floats over a natural landscape with no people in it. Maybe the speaker has thought of hills and valleys because he happens to be “wandering” through such a landscape.
  • These are some of the questions we’re hoping the poem will help us sort out after this mysterious beginning.

Lines 3-4

When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden Daffodils;

  • Suddenly (“all at once”), the speaker sees a group of daffodil flowers. We tend to think of daffodils as “yellow,” but he uses the more majestic-sounding “golden.”
  • He calls them a “crowd,” so they must be packed tightly together. Then he elaborates on “crowd” by adding the noun “host.” A host is just a big group.
  • Yes, “host” and “crowd” mean pretty much the same thing. Ah, but that’s where the connotations come in, those vague associations that attach to certain words. A “crowd” is associated with groups of people, while “host” is associated with angels, because people often refer to a “host of angels.” Coupled with the description of their angelic “golden” color, we seem to be dealing with some very special daffodils.

Lines 5-6

Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

  • He sees the daffodils beside a lake and underneath some trees. It’s a breezy day, and the flowers “flutter” and “dance” on their stems.
  • Maybe now is a good time to step outside the poem for just a second to note that Wordsworth lived in a part of England known as the Lake District, which is filled with lots of hills, valleys and, of course, lakes. We can assume he’s walking in a fairly remote and wild part of the countryside.
  • Now, back to the poem. “Fluttering” suggests flight, which could bring us back to the angels or even birds or butterflies. “Dancing” is something that usually only humans do. The daffodils are given the qualities of humans and also of some kind of otherworldly creatures, perhaps.


Welcome back to the WordSmithery! If you are brand new here, I recommend that you go back and start at the beginning. My goal with the WordSmithery is to make creative writing exciting for writers of all ages. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:
Lesson #1: Introduction and Journals
Lesson #2: Introduction to Creative Writing, Featuring Good Words
Lesson #3: Using Powerful Words to Create More Interesting Writing
Lesson #4: Similes
Lesson #5: Metaphors and Strong Verbs
I have a new feature since our last lesson: Share Your Writing! This is a place for you to share your kids’ writing and to read other kids’ writing to your own children. I encourage you to share there or link back to your own blog. My kids love to read what your kids have written!
And now for Lesson #6: Alliteration and Spring Flowers (or Fall Leaves) Poetry. As always, this lesson is loosely scripted. You might eliminate some things or add others as you go.
As you know if you are a regular here, I try to put the “speaking” parts in regular type and the answers in italics. And remember: parents/teacher: you should be doing the assignments, too! Here we go!
Alliteration and Spring Flowers (or Fall Leaves) Poetry
(Note: if you don’t go through your journal assignments from the previous lesson on a regular basis, this is the time to share your journals! Remember: we only use encouraging words!)
I. Alliteration
We’ve talked about a lot of different tools that writers use in the past few lessons: adjectives, synonyms, similes, metaphors, strong verbs. Here’s a new one for you today:
A. Alliteration: What is alliteration? (Answer: When words start with the same sound in a sentence.)
1. Example: The shining sun shone on the silent seashore.
2. Tongue twisters are usually alliteration. What are some examples of tongue twisters? (Here are some examples. Take plenty of time to let the kids say these; this is fun stuff!)
• Six sick slick slim sycamore saplings.
• Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
• A big black bug bit a big black bear,
made the big black bear bleed blood.
• Friendly Frank flips fine flapjacks.B. Now let’s practice our own alliteration. I’ll start and you’ll add on, and we’ll see how far we can go building on a sentence. (Example: start with the word “very” and have each child add on a word. Keep going until you have at least 4-5 words. Very victoriously, Valerie vaulted.)
1. Fat 2. sneaky 3. Wanda 4. tornado
C. Individual activity: Let’s practice some alliterative sentences. I will give each of you one word, and you must add on to it. You should start each word with the same sound but you can add words likes to, on, in, a, the, etc. (You can choose your own words or here are some good ones: banana giraffe muddy concrete ship thistle neighbor) Share after they’ve had a chance to do this.

D. Remember, alliteration is just another tool that writers use—another way to make your writing interesting. That doesn’t mean you always have to use alliteration, but making careful choices with words turns mediocre writing into exciting writing!
II. Spring Flower Poems (note: you can change this to fall leaf poems or even snowflake poems depending on the season)

A. Now we are going to have a chance to make some beautiful spring (fall/winter) poems. I’m giving you each a sheet of paper with two flowers (leaves/snowflakes) on it. On one flower (leaf/snowflake), write something with alliteration about spring or flowers. Let’s work on some examples, and you can put these words together. (Brainstorm together about flowers and spring, spring colors, types of flowers, etc. (or leaves and fall, autumn, red, orange).
B. With the other flower (leaf), I’d like you to write a simile about spring (fall) or about a flower in each petal and then do another poem in the middle. Let’s brainstorm. Here are some examples you might finish: The flower is pink _________ ( as bubblegum.) The flower flutters like a butterfly. Spring smells like_________ (candy) and tastes like (cheesecake)
(At this point, let the kids take off with their own creativity. They can even write adjectives or snippets of poetry on the stems and leaves, or make clouds in the sky and use alliteration, etc. The possibilities are endless!)

That’s it for this week’s lesson! See below for the weekly journal writings!
Weekly Journal Writings
Day 1
Practice alliteration (same starting sounds) with these words:
• flowers
• candy
• dinosaur

Day 2
Pick one friend or family member and describe him/her using only the first letter of his/her name.

Day 3
Draw and describe an imaginary pet that you would like (or not like) to have.
Day 4
Write about where you would go in a time machine.
Day 5
Describe today’s weather using strong, exciting verbs and adjectives.
**********
Missed the previous weeks? Click on the links below for the whole WordSmithery experience!
Lesson #1: Introduction and Journals
Lesson #2: Introduction to Creative Writing, Featuring Good Words
Lesson #3: Using Powerful Words to Create More Interesting Writing
Lesson #4: Similes
Lesson #5: Metaphors and Strong Verbs
And don’t forget to Share Your Writing! Also, I like link love. If you are using WordSmithery and have a blog, please take a minute copy the WordSmithery logo on my sidebar and point your readers to my blog!
All material on the page copyright 2009-10, Sarah Small.

Alliteration Examples in Literature

Get ready to enjoy these alliteration examples in literature; you’ll see that the writer’s intentions all but leap off the page. Once you’re familiar with this type of figurative language you can incorporate little bits and pieces into your own writing, too.

Alliteration in Poems

From Milton to Tennyson, some of the greatest poets have relied upon this alliterative literary tool from time to time. There’s no doubt it adds rhythm, color and beauty to their verse.

Deep into that darkness peering, Long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before

– “The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe

Closed my lids, and kept them close,

And the balls like pulses beat;

For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky

Lay like a load on my weary eye,

And the dead were at my feet.

– “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Behemoth biggest born of earth upheaved

His vastness: Fleeced the flocks and bleating rose,

As plants: Ambiguous between sea and land

The river-horse, and scaly crocodile.

– “Paradise Lost,” John Milton

I leave the plain, I climb the height;

No branchy thicket shelter yields;

But blessed forms in whistling storms

Fly o’er waste fens and windy fields.

– “Sir Galahad,” Alfred Tennyson

But on a May morning on Malvern hills,
A marvel befell me, of fairy, methought.
I was weary with wandering and went me to rest Under a broad bank by a brook’s side,
And as I lay and leaned over and looked into the waters
I fell into a sleep, for it sounded so merry.”

– “Piers Plowman,” William Langland (modern translation)

The Soul selects her own Society-
Then – shuts the Door –

– “The Soul selects her own Society (303),” Emily Dickinson

Alliteration in Prose

Of course, poetry has a rhythmic flow to it that’s graceful and elegant. However, prose lends itself very well to alliteration, too. When a writer is trying to evoke a strong feeling or express a tender sentiment, there’s no doubt alliteration is one way to carry that message to the reader. Enjoy these stirring samples from classic literature:

Up the aisle, the moans and screams merged with the sickening smell of woolen black clothes worn in summer weather and green leaves wilting over yellow flowers.

– I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

“But four hours later the fish was still swimming steadily out to sea, towing the skiff, and the old man was still braced solidly with the line across his back.”

– The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes; A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.

– Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

“Gee, Great Aunt Nellie, why aren’t any golden goldfinches going to the goodies?” “Oh,” said Aunt Nellie, “They thrive on thistle and I thoroughly thought that I threw the thistle out there.”

– Thank You for the Thistle, Dorie Thurston

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

– The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

– The Dead, James Joyce

“My father brought to conversations a cavernous capacity for caring that dismayed strangers.”

– The Centaur, John Updike

…the first unknown phantom in the other world; – neither of these can feel stranger and stronger emotions than that man does, who for the first time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned circle of the hunted Sperm Whale.

– Moby Dick, Herman Melville

“… his appearance: something displeasing, something down-right detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere …”

– The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

A moist young moon hung above the mist of a neighboring meadow.

– Conclusive Evidence, Vladimir Nabokov

“he had no room for gaiety and ease. She had spent the golden time in grudging its going.”

– The Lovely Leave, Dorothy Parker

“The sibilant sermons of the snake as she discoursed upon the disposition of my sinner’s soul seemed ceaseless.”

– The Gargoyle, Gregory Kirschling

Alliteration Definition

Alliteration is derived from Latin’s “Latira”. It means “letters of alphabet”. It is a stylistic device in which a number of words, having the same first consonant sound, occur close together in a series.

Consider the following examples:

  • But a better butter makes a batter better.
  • A big bully beats a baby boy.

Both sentences are alliterative because the same first letter of words (B) occurs close together and produces alliteration in the sentence. An important point to remember here is that alliteration does not depend on letters but on sounds. So the phrase not knotty is alliterative, but cigarette chase is not.

Common Examples of Alliteration

In our daily life, we notice alliteration in the names of different companies. It makes the name of a company catchy and easy to memorize. Here are several common alliteration examples.

  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • PayPal
  • Best Buy
  • Coca-Cola
  • Life Lock
  • Park Place
  • American Apparel
  • American Airlines
  • Chuckee Cheese’s
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Krispy Kreme
  • The Scotch and Sirloin

We also find alliterations in names of people, making such names prominent and easy to be remembered. For instance, both fictional characters and real people may stand out prominently in your mind due to the alliterative effects of their names. Examples are:

  • Ronald Reagan
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Michael Moore
  • William Wordsworth
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Porky Pig
  • Lois Lane
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Fred Flintstone
  • Donald Duck
  • Spongebob Squarepants
  • Seattle Seahawks

Example #1

From Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

“The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.”

In the above lines we see alliteration (“b”, “f” and “s”) in the phrases “breeze blew”, “foam flew”, “furrow followed”, and “silent sea”.

Example #2

From James Joyce’s “The Dead”

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

We notice several instances of alliteration in the above mentioned prose work of James Joyce. Alliterations are with “s” and “f” in the phrases “swooned slowly” and “falling faintly”.

Example #3

From Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

“Up the aisle, the moans and screams merged with the sickening smell of woolen black clothes worn in summer weather and green leaves wilting over yellow flowers.”

Maya gives us a striking example of alliteration in the above extract with the letters “s” and “w”. We notice that alliterative words are interrupted by other non-alliterative words among them but the effect of alliteration remains the same. We immediately notice alliteration in the words “screams”, “sickening smell”, “summer”, “weather” and “wilting”.

Example #4

From William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” (prologue to Act 1)

“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes;
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.”

This is an example of alliteration with the “f” and “l.” in words “forth, fatal, foes” and “loins, lovers, and life”.

Example #5

Function of Alliteration

Alliteration has a very vital role in poetry and prose. It creates a musical effect in the text that enhances the pleasure of reading a literary piece. It makes reading and recitation of the poems attractive and appealing; thus, making them easier to learn by heart. Furthermore, it renders flow and beauty to a piece of writing.

In the marketing industry, as what we have already discussed, alliteration makes the brand names interesting and easier to remember. This literary device is helpful in attracting customers and enhancing sales.

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