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


Euphony: Pleasing, harmonious sounds. Euphony is the opposite of cacophony, or discordant sounds. Whether a given passage is deemed euphonious involves a subjective judgment, as the pleasurable impression achieved may be due as much or more to the images evoked as to any inherent musicality in the sounds.

EXAMPLES: The first stanza of Christina Rossetti’s “Song” (1862):

When I am dead, my dearest,

Sing no sad songs for me;

Plant thou no roses at my head,

Nor shady cypress tree.

Be the green grass above me

With showers and dewdrops wet;

And if thou wilt, remember,

And if thou wilt, forget.

Prose can also be euphonious, as in the description of snow in the concluding sentences of James Joyce’s story “The Dead” (1907):

It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.