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The literary classics of the English language world are filled with many figures of speech that aim at making mere sentences, emotional verses which enhance the beauty of the lines written. There are many literary devices that poets and authors use in order to make their world reach somewhat of an exalted level. Of all these, one literary device that you will see used in many poems is consonance. So, what is consonance? Well, in simplistic terms, the repetition of consonant sounds of stressed syllables or important words at small intervals is known as consonance. This literary device is used in such a manner that it usually appears somewhere near the end of a word. The easiest way to understand the concept of consonance is to study different examples.

Consonance is often confused with assonance and alliteration. The confusion is understandable but there is quite a difference between the three literary techniques. While consonance is the repetition of a consonant sound, assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds. Alliteration on the other hand is generally considered to be a special type of consonance, wherein the consonant sound at the beginning of each word is repeated every time. Another type of consonance is known as sibilance which is the repetition of s or sh sounds. More often than not, the most common examples of consonance in literature are seen in poetry.

Examples of Consonance in Poetry

In order to understand the concept of consonance as used in English language and literature, it is important to study different examples.

"Ralegh has backed the maid to a tree
As Ireland is backed to England
And drives inland
Till all her strands are breathless
." - Ocean's Love to Ireland by Seamus Heaney

In this poem, you can notice examples in the use of the consonants b and d.

"'T was later when the summer went
Than when the cricket came,
And yet we knew that gentle clock
Meant nought but going home.

'T was sooner when the cricket went
Than when the winter came,
Yet that pathetic pendulum
Keeps esoteric time
." - Emily Dickinson

In the example given above, the literary device can be clearly seen in the use of the consonant m, repeatedly through the poem and the stress on the words that use the alphabet.

"Great, or good, or kind, or fair,
I will ne'er the more despair;
If she love me, this believe,
I will die ere she shall grieve;
If she slight me when I woo,
I can scorn and let her go;
For if she be not for me,
What care I for whom she be
?" - Shall I Wasting in Despair by George Wither

There are many consonant sounds that are repeated throughout the poem like r, d, and l to name a few.

"Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile
Whether Jew or Gentile, I rank top percentile,
Many styles, More powerful than gamma rays
My grammar pays, like Carlos Santana plays
" - Zealots by Fugees

While it may be difficult to believe this but one genre of contemporary poetry that harbors many examples of consonance is hip-hop music. In this example, there is a repetition of the sound ile, and ays.

The examples given in this article would have helped you understand the concept of consonance better. The next time you are confronted by a literary piece that uses this device, it will be easy for you to identify it.