Alliteration Examples in Literature

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Alliteration is a literary device where two or more words in a phrase or line of poetry share the same beginning sound. The words can be adjacent or can be separated by one or more words. Usually the beginning consonants in the words are used for the alliteration; but, sometimes the vowels in the words are used.

Alliteration in Poems

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary… While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping… For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore… And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain – The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Closed my lids, and kept them close,

And the balls like pulses beat ;

For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky

Lay like a load on my weary eye,

And the dead were at my feet. – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Behemoth biggest born of earth upheaved

His vastness: Fleeced the flocks and bleating rose,

As plants: Ambiguous between sea and land

The river-horse, and scaly crocodile. – Paradise Lost by John Milton

I leave the plain, I climb the height;

No branchy thicket shelter yields;

But blessed forms in whistling storms

Fly o’er waste fens and windy fields. – Sir Galahad by Alfred Tennyson

Up the aisle, the moans and screams merged with the sickening smell of woolen black clothes worn in summer weather and green leaves wilting over yellow flowers. – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow followed free; We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea. – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In a somer seson, whan soft was the sonne . . .” – Piers Plowman by William Langland

Other Examples of Alliteration in Literature

  • “I’ll kill him though,” he said. “In all his greatness and his glory.” – Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • From forth the fatal loins of these two foes; A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life. – Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
  • “Gee, Great Aunt Nellie, why aren’t any golden goldfinches going to the goodies?” “Oh,” said Aunt Nellie, “They thrive on thistle and I thoroughly thought that I threw the thistle out there.” – Thank You for the Thistle by Dorie Thurston
  • “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. – The Dead by James Joyce
  • “My father brought to conversations a cavernous capacity for caring that dismayed strangers.” The Centaur by John Updike
  • …the first unknown phantom in the other world; – neither of these can feel stranger and stronger emotions than that man does, who for the first time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned circle of the hunted Sperm Whale. – Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • “… his appearance: something displeasing, something down-right detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere …” – The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • A moist young moon hung above the mist of a neighboring meadow. – Conclusive Evidence by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The soul selects her own society. – Emily Dickinson
  • “[S]he had no room for gaiety and ease. She had spent the golden time in grudging its going.” – The Lovely Leave by Dorothy Parker
  • “The sibilant sermons of the snake as she discoursed upon the disposition of my sinner’s soul seemed ceaseless.” The Gargoyle by Gregory Kirschling

Alliteration is an effective literary style to add drama. For more examples, check out these alliteration examples in Romeo and Juliet as well as some more general alliteration examples.

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