Alliteration, as discussed in some of my other articles, is a literary device which involves the use of two or more words that share the same consonant sounds at the beginning of these words. So, Peter Parker picked pickles perfectly, is an example of alliteration, as they all share the ‘P’ sound.
It is an incredibly simple device to identify, and thus it can be enjoyed by children in the form of tongue twisters which can really build on a child’s audio processing and linguistically skills.
However, it is a tool that is not just for the enjoyment of children and has been employed by a number of writers throughout a number of mediums of literature, whether that is verse or prose and it allows for thoughts and feeling to be conveyed in a particular way. For instance, because of the repetitive sounds, alliteration can generate a sense of franticness if a character’s mind is unsettled by some external force, or if they are excited and rushing to tell another character about their experience.
Below are some examples from famous pieces of prose and verse which you may be familiar with already, however, if there are none that you recognise then don’t fret, because they are examples which will show you how to identify alliteration with relative ease and simplicity.
Alliteration Examples in Literature
The Siege of Belgrade – Alaric Alexander Watts
An Austrian array, awfully arrayed,
Boldly by battery, besieged Belgrade.
Cossack commanders, cannonading come,
Dealing destruction’s devastating doom;
Every endeavor, engineers essay
For fame, for fortune, forming furious fray.
Gaunt gunners grapple, giving gashes good
Heaves high his head heroic hardihood.
Ibraham, Islam, Ismael, imps in ill,
Jostle John Jarovlitz, Jem, Joe, Jack, Jill:
Kick kindling Kutusoff, king’s kinsman kill;
Labor low levels loftiest longest lines;
Men march ‘mid moles, ‘mid mounds, ‘mid murderous mines.
Now nightfall’s nigh, now needful nature nods.
Opposed, opposing, overcoming odds.
Poor peasants, partly purchased, partly pressed,
Quite quaking, “Quarter! Quarter! ” quickly quest.
Reason returns, recalls redundant rage,
Saves sinking soldiers, softens signiors sage.
Truce, Turkey, truce! truce, treacherous Tartar train!
Unwise, unjust, unmerciful Ukraine!
Vanish, vile vengeance! vanish, victory vain!
Wisdom wails war – wails warring words. What were Xerxes, Xantippe, Ximenes, Xavier?
Yet yassy’s youth, ye yield your youthful yest.
Zealously, zanies, zealously zeal’s zest.
On Thriftiness – Thomas Tusser
The thrifty that teacheth the thriving to thrive
Teach timely to traverse, the thing that thou ‘trive.,
Transferring thy toiling, to timeliness taught,
This teacheth thee temp’rance, to temper thy thought,
Take Trusty (to trust to) that thinkest to thee,
That trustily thriftiness trowleth to thee,
That temper thy travell, to tarry the tide;
This teacheth thy thriftiness, twenty times tryed,
Take thankfull thy talent, thank thankfully those
That thriftily teach thee thy time to transpose.
Troth twice to thee teached, teach twenty times ten,
This trade thou that takest, take thrift to thee then.
Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,
leader beloved, and long he ruled
in fame with all folk, since his father had gone
away from the world, till awoke an heir,
haughty Healfdene, who held through life,
sage and sturdy, the Scyldings glad.
Then, one after one, there woke to him,
to the chieftain of clansmen, children four:
Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then Halga brave;
and I heard that — was — ‘s queen,
the Heathoscylfing’s helpmate dear.
To Hrothgar was given such glory of war,
such honor of combat, that all his kin
obeyed him gladly till great grew his band
of youthful comrades. It came in his mind
to bid his henchmen a hall uprear,
ia master mead-house, mightier far
than ever was seen by the sons of earth,
and within it, then, to old and young
he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,
save only the land and the lives of his men.
Wide, I heard, was the work commanded,
for many a tribe this mid-earth round,
to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered,in rapid achievement that ready it stood there,
Paradise Lost – John Milton
Behemoth biggest born of earth upheaved
His vastness: Fleeced the flocks and bleating rose,
As plants: Ambiguous between sea and land
The river-horse, and scaly crocodile.
Sir Galahad – Alfred Tennyson
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms
Fly o’er waste fens and windy fields.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the balls like pulses beat ;
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
‘Harry Potter’s appearance did not endear him to the neighbours, who were the sort of people who thought scruffiness ought to be punishable by law, but as he had hidden himself behind a large hydrangea bush this evening he was quite invisible to passers-by.’
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
‘The first unknown phantom in the other world; – neither of these can feel stranger and stronger emotions than that man does, who for the first time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned circle of the hunted Sperm Whale.’
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
‘Something displeasing, something down-right detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere …’
These are but a few examples from some notable works, however I am sure that there are plenty piece of alliteration hidden somewhere within your book shelf. Like most things, jargon can be off-putting to the extent that it can make things sound far more complicated than it actually is, but once we begin to deconstruct these features it all becomes a little more clear.