Sounds in Poetry. 1

Use of Sound in Poetry Part 1.

Poets use words not only for connotation and meaning but also to utilise their sounds to make patterns.
Sound is the most basic element of language. We learn to speak long before we learn to read or write, and the emotional response we have to sound is programmed in to our psyche very early on, during our pre-verbal development.

Because sound is made by the movement of air in response to muscular activity, speech and poetry are not just intellectual acts, but physical ones. When you read a poem aloud you are not just hearing the words and interpreting the stories, your whole body is involved in producing the sounds required to deliver the poem.

When reading a poem, your brain accesses both your knowledge of language, your knowledge of the sounds made by that language, and your previous experiences of sensations and feelings. Whatever you write, therefore, has sound. People hear your words in their heads, and so the sounds you create can draw people’s attention to your message.

“I may write in silence but my words will always be heard” – Marie Summers

Poets use a range of musical and figurative devices to achieve their effects. Some of these effects relate to the rhythm and metre of the words.

We use the sound of individual letters as well as the way we pronounce, read and decode the hieroglyphics of writing and speech.

Alliteration the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words are utilised as sound effects by poets.

Sweet birds sang
Susie picked seahells on the seashore.

Why do we write and why do folks read
Why is poetry an endangered breed?

When In a world of buy one – get one free
When fast furious games accompany life’s grand prix.

If you look at the four lines above you will note that not only have I repeated sounds at the beginning of some words I have used vowel sounds that are the same.
I have the i sound sprinkled along the lines
y sounds like i

why(i) write
why (i )
line three has repetition of the w … also o
world one

So this little poem is constructed to sound good to the ear… your brain loves patterns, those repeat sounds helps add a sort of rhyme that adds musicality.

The repetition of vowel sounds is called Assonance.


The formation of a word from a sound associated with an action, object or thing or naturally associated with it’s properties such as plop, click, buzz, splat, hiss are attempts at imitating a sound. The interesting question is do these imitations, influence the meaning of the other words that they are combined with when we write or talk. Do onomatopoeic words throw up pictures in our minds, send our minds on a chase for other word associations.
In addition to the sounds they represent, many onomatopoeic words have developed meanings of their own. The word whisper not only represents the breathiness of people talking quietly but also describes the action of people talking quietly.

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