[Robyn Winner, 1999]

"Eight Ways of Looking at Consonance" (with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

  1. Consonance is harmony, an agreement and correspondence of sounds.

  2. Consonance, when applied to music, is a simultaneous group of tones, a chord, which we regard as euphonious.

  3. Consonance is a popular poetic device. It is the repetition of terminal consonants in two or more syllables, words, or lines.

  4. Consonance is concrete, rather than subjective and connotative, and it does not depend on vowels.

  5. Poets wield words with similar sounds for a realm of reasons; consonance, for example, can create a casual, carefree cadence: "The flim-flam man chit-chats with his customer in a sing-song voice as he sells her a yin-yang."

  6. Consonance, working here with alliteration, can surprise a sentence with some similar sounds: "The sinful sun sends radiation to sun-bathing sand-dwellers."

  7. Consonance can even lazily produce a gradual influence on an audience over the course of a few lines:

    The bartender gave the intoxicated youth a drink,
    And without hesitation, the Bloody Mary he quickly drank.
    His slurred, cheap lines made obvious he was drunk.

  8. Consonance (put concisely) can consistently, conveniently, conscientiously enhance a poem.


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