A Teacher's Guide for Teaching Sound Devices in Poetry: Includes Examples & Lesson Ideas

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Student Objectives

There are levels of understanding when it comes to teaching sound devices in poetry:

  1. Monkey Level - Level 1 involves memorizing definitions–consonance, assonance, rhyme, rhyme scheme, alliteration, meter, rhythm, onomatopoeia, etc. Even a monkey can do this if it really wants to. Without progression, however, this knowledge is wasted.
  2. Post-primate Level - The 2nd involves being able to identify sound devices in poetry. It requires more than simple memorization, yet has very little relevance outside of a classroom.
  3. Scholar Level - Level 3 requires scholarly aptitude. It requires students to interpret sound devices and explain the author’s purpose in using sound devices.
  4. Master Level - Finally, the 4th level requires students to use sound devices in their own writing to create a specific effect. It will most likely involve writing poetry, but for true mastery, a student should be able to use sound devices in real world situations.

Part one of the sound devices in poetry series focuses on poems with consonance, poetry with assonance, and poems with internal rhyme.

Examples of Assonance, Consonance & Internal Rhyme

  1. “West Beast East Beast” by Dr. Seuss - I know it’s a children’s poem, but who better to use as an example of sound devices than the master. Seuss’s tongue twister delights and provides great examples of internal rhyme, assonance, consonance, and alliteration. Shatter the stiff English teacher stereotype by annotating and analyzing this children’s classic.
  2. “El Dorado” by Edgar Allan Poe - Poe provides a gold mine of sound devices in Eldorado. Instruct students to identify ‘o’ sounds in the poem and analyze their purpose. In addition, “Eldorado” serves as an excellent example of a poem with repetition.
  3. “Anabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe - Poe’s deft use of repetition, assonance, consonance, repetition, and internal rhyme make “Anabel Lee” a classic love poem. Introduce your students to Poe with an Edgar Allan Poe webhunt.
  4. “The Eagle” by Lord Alfred Tennyson - the repetition of the hard k sound mirrors the harshness of the eagle’s habitat. The Eagle makes a great poem for poetry speed analysis.
  5. “Travel” by Edna St. Vincent Millay - Millay uses assonance to replicate the mingled voices on a train. Instruct students to write a poem about an ordinary place that they enjoy–the school cafeteria, the halls during passing period, the school bus, for example. Require them to use assonance in addition to other appropriate sound devices.
  6. “Beat! Beat! Drums” by Walt Whitman - I’ve never in my life used the phrase “Tour de Force.” It’s a cheesy, trite expression whose meaning is unclear. That being said, Walt Whitman’s “Beat! Beat! Drums!” is a Tour de Force: it’s got consonance; it’s got assonance; it’s got internal rhyme; it’s got alliteration. It captures the war pulse like no other piece of writing can.

I hope this list of poetry is useful. For a more in depth analysis of these poems, check out the poetry sound devices study guide. For poems with alliteration, onomatopoeia, and other sound devices, check out other articles in the series. Click here for a rundown of poems for teaching imagery, metaphor, simile, personification, and other forms of figurative language.

For a complete semester standards based curriculum guide, follow the link.

This post is part of the series: Teaching Sound Devices and Form in Poetry

Use this list of poems and lesson ideas for teaching sound devices and form in poetry.

  1. Poems For Teaching Onomatopoeia
  2. Poems for Teaching Stanza Form in Poetry
  3. Poems For Teaching Meter in Poetry
  4. Alliteration in Poems for High School Students
  5. Poems for Teaching Sound Devices in Poetry