Take This Tip Alliteratively

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Try This - Jun 21, 2021

Fair is foul and foul is fair.
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
— Shakespeare

There’s one legendary literary device we can’t live without. It can be lighthearted or link words together in unexpected ways. Let’s just say there’s a lot to love.
What are we talking about? You guessed it—alliteration!
In case you weren’t familiar, alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of successive words.
It can be playful, twisting your tongue like “She sells seashells by the seashore” and “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” But alliteration can also have a powerful effect, grabbing the reader’s ear with a particular rhythm and connecting seemingly unrelated words.
In our recent poll, we asked which of the following examples of alliteration was your favorite:
  1. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." (The Great Gatsby)
  2. “Fair is foul and foul is fair. / Hover through the fog and filthy air.” (Macbeth)
  3. “The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, / The furrow followed free” (“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner")
  4. “Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.” (“Let It Be”)
  5. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  6. And the results are in (drumroll please…):
    writers block poll
    Go Shakespeare! (Although I am surprised the woodchuck didn’t get more love…) This famous line actually includes multiple literary devices, including rhyme, paradox and antimetabole, but for now we’ll focus on that spellbinding alliteration.
    Chanted by the evil witches of Macbeth, these words sound sinister, less like your ordinary dialogue and more like an incantation. Repeated letters like “S” and “F” tend to have that sinister, even hissing, tonality. Plus, Will is forcing polar opposites together via a shared letter, prompting us to contemplate their differences, and how everything isn’t always what it seems.
    Here’s another excellent example from the Bardsy Library, courtesy of Lori B.’s “The Snake Path”:

    I was in transition after all, from dust to dreams, and from dreams to diamonds.

    Lori both emphasizes and links “dust,” “dreams” and “diamonds,” with each representing a step on a transitional path. This also highlights the progression, from a dilapidated state to one that sparkles. We'll dive into “The Snake Path” even deeper later this week, so stay tuned!
    Try this: Using the first letter of your name, write a few alliterative lines about a sweet summer treat that’s melting in the sun. Send us your paragraph, so we can share a selection of our favorites next week.
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