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Euphony in Literature: Definition & Examples

Euphony in Literature: Definition & Examples
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Instructor: Kara Wilson

Kara Wilson is a 6th-12th grade English and Drama teacher. She has a B.A. in Literature and an M.Ed, both of which she earned from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Have you ever read a poem that made you close your eyes and smile? Chances are, a poem like that used euphony. Euphony is a sound device that is very soothing to the ear. In this lesson, we will learn about how euphony is used in literature by discussing specific examples.

What Is Euphony?

Euphony is a sound device consisting of several words that are pleasing to the ear. The sounds made by these words are meant to be soothing rather than harsh or alarming. Rougher sounds can produce euphony's opposite: cacophony, which produces a sharp and discordant effect, such as the sound of alarm bells or sirens. Euphony, on the other hand, can be compared to a bird chirping, in the sense that these words create sweet, almost musical sounds. Euphony is achieved in writing through the use of longer vowel sounds like 'oo' in 'smooth,' as well as liquid or nasal consonant sounds like 'l,' 'm,' 'n' and 'w.' Both euphony and cacophony can be found in most poetry and prose.

Euphony is as calming as the song of a bird.
bird

Examples of Euphony in Literature

In 'To Autumn' by John Keats, melodious or euphonious sounds can be heard when his words are read aloud, so, go ahead and read the verse below out loud:

'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run'

Notice how the words in these four lines roll off your tongue and sound like a melody. The words mists, mellow, close, sun, bless, vines and eves all have a soothing quality to them and don't sound harsh or jarring, thus making them euphonious words.

In 'The Lotos-Eaters' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, there's a line that contains a clear example of euphony. Read the following aloud so you can hear this line:

'The mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters came.'

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