The assonance is a rhyming form and a stylistic device of rhetoric. Assonance meets us primarily in lyrical texts, but can appear in works of all kinds and genres. The assonance is a vocal half-rhyme, which means that in neighboring words a consonance of the suits (vowels, a, e, i, o, u, ä, ö, ü, eu, au) is found.
This form of the rhyme is particularly widespread in Old-Polish and Old-French poetry, and is often found in lyrical imitation or translation of these works (see Romanticism).
Note: The word assonance is derived from the Latin (ad ~ zu, an; sonare ~ klingen) and can be translated as “with” or “even”. This interpretation is quite good, which basically describes the assonance.
The assonance by means of an example with the vowel “A”
to sleep complain
The above verse line illustrates the principle of assonance. The two words sleep and complain basically do not rhyme. In any case, they do not sound identical because of the last syllable. However, they have the same vowel – the “A” – and thus get a vocal harmony.
This means that the vowels in neighboring words – words that follow one another – are the same and thus form a kind of rhythm within the poem. Let us take a look at the first stanza by Ernst Jandl’s poem Otto Mops:
ottos mops defies
otto: fortpops fort
ottos mops hopst fort
Consequently, Jandl also uses the consonance of the vowel “O”. It is true that we can find a final rhyme between the second and third verses, but the rest of the poem is based on the fact that the single letter is repeated continuously and thus forms a unity.
Examples of the assonance
Heart | ache sore
Here, we are dealing with a double assonance, since the consistency is to be found within two words. This form of the semi-rhyme is very often used in rap to create a rhythm in the respective lyric.
The two nouns “Stab” and “Macht” also form in the immediate sequence an assonance which is effected by the same vowel “A”. In this way, the two words, if they follow each other, sound similar and rhythmize a text. Finally, let’s look at an example from Brentano’s Romances of the Rosary.
Black ladies, black gentlemen
walk through Bologna’s streets.
Will they go to the corpse?
Who is so late to the grave?
But no priest is seen,
Cross and flag not worn.
Everything flows loudly and lively,
and the fast cars rattled.
Not to the Metten oer Vesper
Misere, Salve, Ave,
also to no dead fair:
These are only read in the evening.
Note: In this example, only the assonances were color-coded in the first stanza.
The most important to the Assonance at a glance
The assonance is basically described as vocal half-rhyme.
Furthermore, we can only speak of such a conspicuousness when a vowel repeats itself in at least two, almost three, neighboring words.
The assonance is related to the alliteration, since by the repetition of initial syllables a similar pattern can arise within a work (→ examples of the alliteration).
In lyric poetry, the assonance usually serves as a stylistic means to combine verses
The superiority of the assonance is one of the most common stylistic devices, even though it is sometimes difficult to recognize.