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Listening To The Sounds Of Poetry

Sounds Like Poetry

I love the sound of poetry. As a poet I consciously play with sounds. As well as reading poetry with our eyes, we must read it with our ears. In other words, listen to the sound the words create. Sounds of words and sounds within words attract my attention when I am writing a poem. I repeat sounds in the hope of  attracting the ear of my readers. I want the sounds I have selected to be noticed and noted. The reader's mind is the destination for my sound bytes.

I may repeat a consonant at the beginning of certain words to create ALLITERATION. In this extract from 'Simply A Walk In the Park, I wrote  the line containing several words beginning with the consonant 'b.':

 A large wooly dog barks boldly at the butterflies

In  the poem Jeffrey the Jellyfish' I have used lots of alliterative combinations.

Jeffrey was a jellyfish
A rather jolly jellyfish
He floated freely in the sea
Bobbing and bouncing happily

Here is another example from 'Monday, Monday, Not A Fun Day'
where you can clearly hear a host of  'm' words.

On Monday mornings, I am moderately mean,
A maddening monotone moaner.

Misery is my Monday morning master.

 I also use sounds to link words and convey a meaning in the same way writer's use onomatopoeia to convey certain meanings. I also create my own sound words (PACOW!)  Listen to the ow/ou sound in these lines from the poem, 'Why Don't Cows Use Their Horns.'

A brown cow jumped out in front of me.
Poor car, Poor cow

Poets use rhyme to create sound patterns. In this limerick poem, 'Cheesed To Please You' you will notice how the rhyme is at the end of the lines. The rhyming pattern, which limericks demand is AA, BB, A

An old man who lived in Kildare
Found a large purple mouse in his hair.
He named the mouse Milton
And fed it on Stilton,

Although it preferred Camembert.

When a poet uses rhyming couplets sound is critical to success. Listen to this:

As I was going to Wangaratta
I met a man who love to chatter

He talked to me of many things
Apples, tractors, angel wings

I also like to use ASSONANCE where a vowel sound (a-e-i-o-u) is repeated within words. Can you hear it in the following poem?

Bruce And The Goose

Big Bruce Booth from Booligal                         

Found a huge, blue goose in a tree                       

He rescued the goose

Who couldn’t get loose

Then invited the bird home for tea

And now, when Bruce B goes walking

In his grooviest maroon colored shoes

The blue goose walks proudly beside him

And they both croon tunes to the moon.

Hope you like the sound of all this... Try it yourself. Listen to your words ever so closely. Make those words sing out. 


  1. I especially enjoy onomatopoeia, especially when it involves sounds immediately recognizable, but unexpected.

  2. Sound is key to why people like something, when they don't always realize why. It's like a secret code the poet employs to tap enjoyment for the reader. I like all of your examples here, but especially your mouse named Milton.

    1. Brenda, I like your analogy to a secret code employed by the poet. I had fun writing about Milton. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Our fourth graders are working on the tools of poetry right now! I can't wait to share this with them, I think they will love hearing a real poet's voice talking about how he actually uses those tools!

    1. Carol, it pleases me to think you can use these words with your Grade 4 poets. I can hear it all now...

  4. Fun! I don't read poetry aloud nearly enough. Thanks for the nudge. It's so much fun.

    1. Starting today Linda, resolve to read aloud as much as possible!

  5. Congratulations on your book! And what great examples of sounds from your poetry... memorable and easy to understand.

    1. Thank you Violet. Glad you liked my sound examples. I am thrilled with my new book. Hope readers like it too.

  6. It was so much fun reading your post, Alan.


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