Alliteration occurs when consonant sounds are repeated at the beginnings of words. Poets use alliteration to add style, rhythm and musicality to their work.
Types of Alliteration
Alliteration can be subtle or overt. Tongue twisters are full of overt alliteration, such as the repeated "p" sounds in "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." Subtle alliteration can be found in advertisements, such as "fly for free" in an airline ad for its rewards program.
To identify alliteration, look within the poem for repeated consonant sounds at the beginnings of words. If you're having trouble identifying alliteration, try reading the poem aloud so you can hear the repeated sounds.
A famous example of alliteration is found in the repeated “d” sounds in the first line of the last stanza of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. The subtle alliteration lends a soothing quality to the passage: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep."
Children’s author Shel Silverstein also makes use of alliteration. In the second line of his poem “If the World Was Crazy," Silverstein uses repeated "s" sounds for humor: "If the world was crazy, you know what I’d eat? A big slice of soup and a whole quart of meat."