Alliterative Verse: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 Definition of…
  • 0:57 Differences with Alliteration
  • 2:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

In this lesson, you'll learn more about the definition of alliterative verse and read some examples of alliterative verse. Then you can test your newfound knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of Alliterative Verse

Alliterative verse is a stylistic form of writing used in Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon poetry. After the Norman Conquest, alliterative verse was rarely used in writing. Instead the Normans introduced rhyme and other conventional forms to use in poetry. During the Middle English period there was a revival of alliterative verse that lasted for a short time, but this style of writing is rarely still used today. Some writers, such as Alfred Lord Tennyson in his novel Idylls of the King and J.R.R. Tolkien in parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, have used alliterative verse in more modern times.

The main component of alliterative verse is the use of the poetic device known as alliteration. When a poem has alliterative verse, each line in the poem has at least four stressed syllables of alliterative words. Alliterative words are words that repeat the same sound in a line or sentence.

Differences With Alliteration

Alliteration is used to create a certain effect in a sentence or line. For example:

  • Lisa loved to look at lizards in the aquarium.

In this sentence, the 'L' sound in 'Lisa, loved, look', and 'lizards' creates alliteration.

Alliterative verse is a little different from alliteration. In alliterative verse, each line in a poem will contain 2-3 alliterative words; however, the alliterative sound in each line of the poem might be different. For example:

  • Lisa loved to look at lizards in the aquarium
    Max maintained his composure until he saw the monkeys
    Zack became zealous because of the zebras

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