The Blog of John Hewitt

Write a poem that uses at least two different forms of repetition – 31p31d

Day 14 of 31 poems in 31 days.

Repeating Yourself

Stack of baskets

Stack of baskets

One of the central concepts of poetry is repetition. As poets we repeat sounds, syllables, words, syntax, meters, lines and stanzas. The use of repetition is one of the qualities of poetry that separates it from prose. In prose, repetition is rare and usually done to either increase clarity or to make a single point.

Repetition creates patterns. Whether the patterns are phonetic or syntactic, when people encounter these patterns they recognize them and respond to them. If you repeat the same word or line over and over again, the reader will assume that it has significance. If you repeat a sound (rhyme, alliteration, consonance) it links words or lines together. If you repeat a meter, it moves the poem forward and adds a musical quality to the poem. If you repeat syntax, it allows different ideas either form links or create contrasts.

Repetition is a tool. If used well, it adds to a poem through the links and patterns it creates. If used badly, it can become too obvious, creating predictability. Like any poetic tool, it should be used carefully and with intent. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish by using repetition, there’s a good chance you will misuse it.

Here are a few of many types of repetition to consider:

Adnomination: repetition of words with the same root word (e.g. inform, informal, perform, formula)

Anaphora – repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines.

Assonance: repetition of the sound of a vowel or diphthong in non-rhyming stressed syllables.

Alliteration: repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

Consonance: repetition consonant sounds in close proximity.

Meter: repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables.

Rhyme: repetition of word endings, often at the end of a line.

Ploce: repetition of a word or phrase

Epanalepsis: repeating a word or phrase from the beginning of a sentence, line, or stanza at the end of the sentence, line, or stanza.


Today’s Poetic Assignment

Write a poem that uses at least two different forms of repetition. Try to embrace at least one form of repetition that you don’t ordinarily use.