Alliteration is a literary device that is often used by poets and good writers for greater effect. The dictionary defines alliteration as “the repetition of a sound, especially a consonant, for rhetorical or poetic effect.”
We can get innumerable examples from poets of the Romantic Age where many poets used fanciful expressions and descriptive writing was at its best.
Examples of Alliteration Techniques in Famous Poems
Let us outline some practical instances from famous poems where the alliteration technique is utilized. These will help to further establish the concept and its effect literary speaking.
The following verse from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime Of the Ancient Mariner” is a wonderful example of an alliteration.
“The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;”
The use of the repetitive letter ‘f’ make it sound more realistic and poetical.
There are many more phrases in the same poem like “lay like a load”, “But with its sound it shook the sails, “sweet sounds rose slowly”, “ Nor rot nor reek”, “strange shape drove suddenly”.
The following paragraph is also another example of alliteration, used to reinforce the smooth movement of the ship and also highlighting the beauty of the picturesque scene.
“Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sailed softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze -
“wicked whisper”, dry as dust., moving moon, “Laughed loud and long”, “was wrenched
With a woeful agony,”
The following is another example
“My garments all were dank;
Sure I had drunken in my dreams,
And still my body drank.”.
Edgar Allen Poe has used alliteration in the following sentences “Deep into that darkness peering,”
“Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before (19-20).”.
Here are a few more examples-“ distant deeps”, “burning bright”, [William Blake,] “That gladden the green earth,” “'Most musical, most melancholy' bird!”[S.T.Coleridge]
“"With beaded bubbles winking at the brim" (Ode to a Nightingale)[John Keats]
“"While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, “"And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn", “ A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door"[ John Keats]
The following is an example from the great dramatist Shakespeare. He has used alliteration in his drama and this particular one is from “A Midsummer Night’s ’s Dream”.
“whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade he bravely broached his bloody boiling breast.”
Here are some more examples of Alliteration in Shakespeare
“sessions of sweet silent thought”
“hid in death's dateless night,”
“grieve at grievances foregone”
Examples of Alliteration Techniques in Prose
While many of the above are examples from poetry and drama, alliteration can be used in prose writing too where the writer gives a poetic effect through his splendid descriptions. Let us look at few examples.
“Something had happened down in the dim, foggy-green depths”.- Paul Annixter,"Battle in the Depths"
“Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail”-Helen Keller.
There is the use of alliteration in proverbs too like “Look before you leap” or “He who laughs last laughs first”.
Examples of Alliteration Techniques in Day-to-day Use
Alliteration is used for fun too in daily language or as tongue twisters. The following like “She sells sea shells on the seashore" and
“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” can be taken as examples.
In conclusion we can say that the use of alliteration as a literary device not only enhances the beauty of the written language but it can be used for entertainment purposes too.
Alliteration examples make our language more poetical and interesting at the same time. The Cambridge Encyclopedia gives a good explanation as to what alliteration techniques are all about. Other sites show the concept as well, and the educational techniques that can be used to describe it to students.