Assonance is a resemblance in the sounds of words/syllables either between their vowels (e.g., meat, bean) or between their consonants (e.g., keep, cape).
However, assonance between consonants is generally called consonance in American usage.
The two types are often combined, as between the words six and switch, in which the vowels are identical, and the consonants are similar but not completely identical.
If there is repetition of the same vowel or some similar vowels in literary work, especially in stressed syllables, this may be termed "vowel harmony" in poetry (though linguists have a different definition of "vowel harmony").
A special case of assonance is rhyme, in which the endings of words (generally beginning with the vowel sound of the last stressed syllable) are identical—as in fog and dog or history and mystery.
Vocalic assonance is an important element in verse.
English poetry is rich with examples of assonance:
It also occurs in prose:
Hip hop relies on assonance:
It is also heard in other forms of popular music:
Assonance is common in proverbs:
- La zra na bal zra ta laar shta. "From one heart to another there is a way."
- Kha ghar lwar day pa sar laar lary. "Even if a mountain is very high, there is a path to the top."
Another example is Dies irae (probably by Thomas of Celano):
- Dies iræ, dies illa
- Solvet sæclum in favilla,
- Teste David cum Sibylla.
- così l’animo mio, ch’ancor fuggiva,
- si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo
- che non lasciò già mai persona viva.
In the following strophe from Hart Crane's "To Brooklyn Bridge" there is the vowel [i] in many stressed syllables.
- How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
- The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
- Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
- Over the chained bay waters Liberty—
All rhymes in a strophe can be linked by vowel harmony into one assonance.
- Giunto a quel passo il giovinetto Alcide,
- che fa capo al camin di nostra vita,
- trovò dubbio e sospeso infra due guide
- una via, che’ due strade era partita.
- Facile e piana la sinistra ei vide,
- di delizie e piacer tutta fiorita;
- l’altra vestìa l’ispide balze alpine
- di duri sassi e di pungenti spine.
This is ottava rima (abababcc), a very popular form in Renaissance, used in the first place in long epic poems.
- As armas e os barões assinalados,
- Que da ocidental praia Lusitana,
- Por mares nunca de antes navegados,
- Passaram ainda além da Taprobana,
- Em perigos e guerras esforçados,
- Mais do que prometia a força humana,
- E entre gente remota edificaram
- Novo Reino, que tanto sublimaram;
There are many examples of vowel harmony in French, Czech, and Polish poetry.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assonance.