Poetry Unit: Practicing With Sound Devices



Read the following two poems carefully. As you read, look for examples of the poetic sound devices we have discussed in class: alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, rhyme. Use your notes from class to help you. Then answer the questions on the back of this worksheet. You may find examples in the same poem or you may use both poems. You should write your answers on your own paper and use complete sentences; staple your work to this worksheet.




Ghost House

By Robert Frost


I Dwell in a lonely house I know

That vanished many a summer ago,

And left no trace but the cellar walls,

And a cellar in which the daylight falls,

And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.


O'er ruined fences the grape-vines shield

The woods come back to the mowing field;

The orchard tree has grown one copse

Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;

The footpath down to the well is healed.


I dwell with a strangely aching heart

In that vanished abode there far apart

On that disused and forgotten road

That has no dust-bath now for the toad.

Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;


The whippoorwill is coming to shout

And hush and cluck and flutter about:

I hear him begin far enough away

Full many a time to say his say

Before he arrives to say it out.


It is under the small, dim, summer star.

I know not who these mute folk are

Who share the unlit place with me--

Those stones out under the low-limbed tree

Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.

(continued in next column)


They are tireless folk, but slow and sad,

Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,--

With none among them that ever sings,

And yet, in view of how many things,

As sweet companions as might be had.





By Edna St. Vincent Millary

The railroad track is miles away,
  And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
  But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn't a train goes by,
  Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
  And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
  And better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
  No matter where it's going.








1)      Find two examples of alliteration. Write out each example, underlining the repeated consonant sounds. (Remember, these sounds don’t need to be at the beginning of the word.) For each example, write a sentence explaining the effect of the use of alliteration.


2)      Find two examples of assonance. Write down each example, underlining the repeated vowel sounds. For each example, write a sentence explaining the effect of this use of assonance.


3)      Find two examples of onomatopoeia. Write down each example, explaining how the word seems to create the sound it describes.




Examples from an excerpt of Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”


He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.


Alliteration Example: …harness bells a shake/to ask if there is some mistake./…and downy flake


The repeated “k” sound mimics the lively and jolly sound of winter bells and branches cracking, letting us hear how it sounds to be in the woods.


Assonance Example: The only other sound’s the sweep/Of easy wind and downy flake


The repeated “o” sound lets the snowy woods sound a little mysterious and peaceful, like we can hear the wind blowing.


Onomatopoeia Example: The only other sound’s the sweep


The word “sweep” has a long “ee” sound ending in an abrupt “p” that cuts it short. When you read this aloud, it mimics the sound of something sweeping along the ground in a dramatic “whoosh.”