Repetition in Poetry: The Many Ways to Create Poetic Intensity

repetitioninpoetryA Rose is a Rose is a Rose

While hearing things again and again may seem both frustrating and/or annoying, repetition in poetry is a powerful and effective rhetorical device.  Many poets understand the effectiveness of repetition and utilize it fully as a meaningful weapon in facing any human condition .  Why emphasize repetition though, you may ask?  How does repetition bring a poem to life or create effect and illuminate meaning?  Whether you’re a budding Keats or a teacher of poetry, we here at Udemy understand the importance and significance of the many rhetorical devices involved in the creation of poetry.  So whether you are trying to read and comprehend some of the best poetry from the Romantic Era, studying contemporary poetry, or simply finding your way as a poet yourself, we can help in fine tuning that poetic inner voice and the use of repetition could truly bring your poetry to life.

Why is Repetition so Effective?

The use of repetition in poetry has been a major rhetorical strategy for ages.  When reading any type of poetry, we often gloss over repeating sounds, syllables, words, phrases, lines, stanzas, or metrical patterns – at times not even realizing repetition has occurred.  If you are interested in understanding poetry a bit more, we offer a modern poetry course which provides a way to immerse yourself in an art form that explores cultures everywhere in the world.  Repetition is a way to produce deeper levels of emphasis, clarity, amplification, and emotional effect.  As a a basic unifying device in all of poetry, the device may reinforce, supplement, or even substitute for meter, the other chief controlling factor in the arrangement of words into poetry.  So now that you are more familiar with the wonderful use of repetition in any type of poetry, we can explore the specific types of repetition to better understand how to teach or incorporate into your own works of art.

The Basics of Repetition

  • conduplicatio – The repetition of a word or words. A general term for repetition sometimes carrying the more specific meaning of repetition of words in adjacent phrases or clauses. Sometimes used to name either ploce or epizeuxis
  • ploce – the repetition of a single word for emphasis
    • ploce is a more general term and may be used in place of more specific terms such as polypton – which will be defined more specifically later

From General to Specific- Going Deeper into Repetition

  • alliteration – repetition of the same sound at the beginning of two or more stressed syllables.
  • assonance – repetition of similar vowel sounds, preceded and followed by different consonants, in the stressed syllables of adjacent words.
  • consonance – repetition of consonant sound in words stressed in the same place (but whose vowels differ).
  • homoioptoton – repetition of similar case endings in adjacent words or in words in parallel position.
  • homoioteleuton  – similarity of endings of adjacent or parallel words.
  • paroemion – alliteration taken to another level – every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant.
  • paromoiosis – parallelism of sound between the words of adjacent clauses whose lengths are equal or approximate to one another.  The combination of isocolon and assonance.

The Use of Repetition with Words

  • adnominatio – (synonymous with polyptoton)
    • repeating a word, but in a different form.  Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity.
  • anadiplosis – the repetition of the last word of one clause or sentence at the beginning of the next.
  • anaphora – repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines.
  • antanaclasis – the repetition of a word whose meaning changes in the second instance.
  • antistasis – the repetition of a word in a contrary sense.  Often, simply synonymous with antanaclasis.
  • diacope – repetition of a word with one or more between, usually to express deep feeling.
  • diaphora – repetition of a common name so as to perform two logical functions: to designate an individual and to signify the qualities connoted by that individual’s name or title.
  • epanaplesis – repetition at the end of a line, phrase, or clause of the word or words that occurred at the beginning of the same line, phrase, or clause.
  • epistrophe – ending a series of lines, phrases, clauses, or sentences with the same word or words.  This is the opposite of anaphora.
  • epizeuxis – repetition of words with no others in between.
  • mesarchia – the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning and middle of successive sentences.
  • mesodiplosis – repetition of the same word or words in the middle of successive sentences.
  • palilogia – repetition of the same word, with none between, for vehemence.  Another form of epizeuxis.
  • paregmenon – a general term for the repetition of a word or its cognates in a short sentence.
  • polyptoton – repeating a word, but in a different form. Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity.
  • polysyndeton – employing many conjunctions between clauses.
  • symploce – the combination of anaphora and epistrophe: beginning a series of lines, clauses, or sentences with the same word or phrase while simultaneously repeating a different word or phrase at the end of each element in this series.

Ideas can be Repeated too!

  • commoratio – dwelling on or returning to one’s strongest argument.
  • disjunctio – a simlar idea is expressed with different verbs in successive clauses.
  • epanodos – repeating the main terms of an argument in the course of presenting it.
  • epimone – persistent repitition of the same plea in much the same words. \
  • exergasia – augmentation by repeating the same thought in many figures.
  • expolitio – repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given

Now You are Ready to Write (or Teach)!

While writing poetry is not solely dependent on the art of repetition, the varying forms and uses allow for a blooming of your own poetic creation.  Understanding the various rhetorical devices associated with repetition can make you a better poet and you can become a better writer  in any medium of your choice.  Teaching poetry in any way also becomes significantly easier once you understand one of the art’s most powerful devices: the mastery of repetition.  So what are you waiting for, waiting for, waiting for?  Get to that paper (or computer) and start writing that classic using your new found knowledge in the art of repetition!