Sound Pattern Techniques

Hopefully the reader will have no trouble in accepting, by now, the idea that poetry is meant to be spoken, not merely read on a page. Lanier asserts that “when formal poetry, or verse… is repeated aloud, it impresses itself upon the ear as verse only by means of certain relations existing among its component words considered purely as sounds, without reference to their associated ideas” (21). For example, even in another language, we can almost always distinguish a poem from a bit of prose by its rhyme, meter, alliteration, etc.

It seems important to note that while sound patterns can reinforce or create meaning in poems, the sounds are not by any means inherently linked to certain meanings. Certain sound pattern techniques can be applied in a number of different contexts with a number of different effects—any connection to a poem’s meaning is strictly situational (MacMahon 116). This does not, however, negate their importance, or their usefulness in the study of poetry, which is why it is important to take these sound effects into consideration.