Poetry is about structure, meaning and rhythm, but SOUND is probably the single most important element in a poem. The sound of individual words is important, but also the sounds the words make when they are together on a page.
Save a few pages in your notebook for your word collection or word bank. Start your collection with your favourite words. What words do you like the sound of? Do these words produce an image in your head? I like the sound of lily, dazzling, graceful, love, angel, noble, simple. If you don’t know the meaning of any of these words, look them up!
Write down your favourite words in your notebook. When you come across an interesting word in a textbook, in the newspaper or in your library book, write it down. Read the words aloud. Listen to the sounds.
As you listen closely to words, you’ll hear how words sometimes follow patterns to create sounds.
Below are three basic terms related to sound in poetry:
ALLITERATION: Alliteration is the repetition of the initial consonants of words. Examples of alliteration are phrases such as setting sun, busy bee, pretty pink poppies, red rose, seven sisters slept soundly on the sand. Here is an alliterative tongue-twister: She sells sea shells by the seashore.
ASSONANCE is the repetition of the vowel sounds in words. For example, note the ‘oo’ sound on zoomand moon, and ruin. Note that the ‘oo’ sound in ‘ruin’ is not produced by ‘oo.’ Let’s take a look at heat and meet. What letters produce the ‘ee’ sound?
ONOMATOPOEIA is a word that makes the sound of the action it describes. Thump, bang, honk, ring and buzz are examples of onomatopoeia.
Now it’s your turn. Read some poetry out loud. You can find poetry on the Internet and also in your textbooks. Be on the lookout for examples of alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia. See if you can hear what they add to the poem. Write down good examples in your notebook.
A) Here is a fun exercise for alliteration:
What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
Mine is: Chocolate chip ice cream.
Below are words for several flavours of ice cream. Combine them in any way you want to create unusual, unique and alliterative ice cream flavours. You can also use words that are not in the lists below.
Strawberry, caramel, vanilla, chocolate, lemon, blueberry, banana, cinnamon, coffee, mint, walnut, mango, toffee, kesar-pista, orange
Chip, swirl, twist, volcano, cookie, sherbet, brownie, birthday cake, butter, treat, candy, bites, blast, pop, chew, bits, punch, ripple, lava, barfi, crunch, madness
B) Fill in the blanks with the correct onomatopoeic verb:
You can choose from howl, sizzle, zoom, screech, croak and buzz. Please use the past tense of the verb.
- The mosquito__ in my ear.
- The oil __ in the pan and then I put in the potatoes.
- The racing car__ past the finish line.
- The wolves ___ at the moon.
- The frogs ___ in the pond.
- The motorcyclist ___ to a halt when the policeman stopped him.
Underline the repeated vowel sounds in the following sentences:
- Clap your hands and stamp your feet.
- I sweep and clean the floor.
- The man with the hat had a bad apple.
- We light the fire on the mountain.
- I talk and walk, for hours on end.