Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Wheeler English

Lines & Rhymes: Repetition

Repetition of a sound, syllable, word, phrase, line, stanza, or metrical pattern is a basic unifying device in all poetry.

Repetition of sounds is the basis for rhyme and alliteration. Repetition of patterns of accents in the basis for rhymth. Repetition of key workds, phrases, and sentence patterns is often important in poetry.

Sometimes, repetion reinforces or even substitutes for meter (the beat), the other chief controlling factor of poetry.

Primitive religious chants from all cultures show repetition. Frequently, the exact repetition of words in the same metrical pattern at regular intervals forms a refrain, which serves to set off or divide narrative into segments, as in ballads.

Repetition is found extensively in free verse, which does not have a traditional, recognizable metrical pattern. Repetition in free verse includes parallelism (repetition of a grammar pattern) and the repetition of important words and phrases. This helps to distinguish free verse from prose (anything that is not poetry).

In short, although poetry is often about conciseness and novelty, it's also about repetition.

The repetition of similar endings of words or even of identical syllables (rime riche) constitutes rhyme, used generally to bind lines together into larger units or to set up relationships within the same line (internal rhyme).

Front-rhyme, or alliteration, the repetition of initial sounds of accented syllables frequently supplements the use of other unifying devices, although in Old English poetry it formed the basic structure of the line and is still used occasionally in modern poetry. The exact repetition of sounds within a line serves as a variety of internal rhyme ("Come here, thou worthy of a world of praise," Chapman, "The Odyssey").

Another repetitional device is assonance, the use of similar vowel sounds with identical consonant clusters.

The repetition of a complete line within a poem may be what's called an envelope stanza pattern or may be used regularly at the end of each stanza as a refrain.

Rarely a line may be repeated entire and immediately as a means of bringing a poem to a close, as in the ending of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening":
And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

figures of speech