The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018


Consonance: The repetition of a final consonant sound or sounds following different vowel sounds in proximate words (wood / road). Most scholars maintain that the repetition of initial or intermediate consonant sounds, when occurring in addition to repeated final consonant sounds, also constitutes consonance (litter / letter, raid / road).

EXAMPLES: Emily Dickinson’s poem #214 (c. 1860) uses consonance rather than perfect rhyme in the words Pearl and Alcohol as well as in the words brewed, scooped, and Yield.

I taste a liquor never brewed —

From Tankards scooped in Pearl —

Not all the Vats upon the Rhine

Yield such an Alcohol!

Wilfred Owen’s “Arms and the Boy” (1920) provides an example of consonance in which initial as well as final consonant sounds are repeated (in the words blade and blood, flash and flesh):

Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade

How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;

Blue with all malice, like a madman’s flash;

And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.