- Books, Literature, and Writing
Alliteration: A Literary Technique
One literary technique is alliteration in which the beginning of two or more words next to or near each other are or sound the same.
Look for these examples of alliteration in the following essay:
- name of the river: Rifle River
- description of the water's movement: concentric circles
- description of the trout's environment: sunlit shallows
- manner in which the author perceives the ducks' sounds: frolicking flamboyance
- author describing the ducks and their movement: mostly Mallards, marching
- transition phrase: Eventually the entire camaraderie encompasses
- description of what the splashing covers: bird's entire body
- describing the water's surface: shaded surface
- author's name for the fish: gill-fitted friend
- author's direct quote: Happy and healthy
- description of nature's force: inner instinct
- duck sounds: quacking conversation
Alliteration adds sound emphasis and affects the rhythm of the words in the sentence. The technique can make a piece rich in literary texture, making memorable images.
An Afternoon on the Riverbank: A First-Person Essay
And we will all the pleasures prove . . . --Christopher Marlowe
I sit comfortably on the grassy bank of the Rifle River in Irons Park. Warm sun rays permeate my back as I view the steady water currents splashing over randomly situated rocks. The sound created by the water's constant, rushing movement soothes me.
Leaves don their autumnal colors--gold, red, brown, and pale green. The river's surface near the bank is relatively calm, but I detect a movement causing gentle waves to move outward in parallel, concentric circles. A foot-long trout darts through the sunlit shallows until he is hidden safely beneath a shaded, flora-covered extension secured by a young maple.
Soon the quacking of ducks greets my tympanic membrane with frolicking flamboyance, and, on my right, I witness a flock of about twenty web-footed pedestrians, mostly Mallards, marching across the green toward the river. They plop into the water in an orderly, yet comical fashion. I think this swim must be a late afternoon ritual.
The sound created by the water's constant, rushing movement soothes me.
Eventually the entire camaraderie encompasses a major area in the water at the river's bend. Duck bellies flash white, brown, and gray, topped by two webbed feet. Others content themselves to swim back and forth across the river's breadth. One young bird stretches its neck and plunges its head into the water, which splashes up and over the bird's entire body. Another duck follows suit. One begins flapping its wings enough to nearly lift its whole body out of the river. The entire scene is reminiscent of a theatrical choreography.
I detect another wave of concentric circles in the shaded surface near the bank. The trout has returned, surfaced, and nipped an insect. The gill-fitted friend departs in smug content.
"Happy and healthy," I say aloud.
I return my attention to the ducks, some exiting onto the bank with a bit of effort. Preening is a major exercise, and I remember that ducks have an oil gland at the base of their tail. They rub their bills on this spot to gather bits of oil that they rub onto their plumage. The oil-coated feathers become waterproof, validating the simile "like water off a duck's back."
A good forty minutes of duck entertainment passes; dusk is settling, and the birds begin their exodus now. Some inner instinct must hold them together as a flock because they have all left the water together, and the web-footed march ends as quickly as it began. The sound of quacking conversation gently fades. Ducks know how to live, I think, as I ponder the delight their presence has given me. Surely this is life at its best--no cost, no worries, just pure joy!
Emotionally fulfilled, I slowly stand and brush the back of my pants. The temperature has dropped, and I feel a slight chill through my fingers and on my nose and cheeks. It is time for me, too, to leave. I can, perhaps, return tomorrow to re-witness the trout's circles on the surface and the ducks' swimming and preening ritual. ***
A Quiz on Alliterationview quiz statistics
© 2012 Marie Flint