It is important for a writer, especially a poet, to play with words. One of the easiest games we can play with words is alliteration. This is, simply put, the repetition of the first letter of each word in a line of prose or poetry. Probably the most famous example of alliteration is the line: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers…” Of course, that line is an example of alliteration run amok. It is probably better, in your own writing, not to overdo it with the alliteration, but to use it sparingly, and with good effect. Here is a nice poetic example of alliteration, even if the author is writing about pigs:
Sows and shoats raise snouts, clotted
with slops, to sniff and watch the bucket…
-Janice N. Harrington, “Leave Nothing”
Another one of my favorite examples of alliteration comes from the poem The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe:
“And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain…”
By the way, around the time I started researching this week’s blog, The Baltimore Ravens were in the AFC championship game trying to reach the Super Bowl. Did you know that the (team) Ravens are named after The (poem) Raven? Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote the famous poem, lived in Baltimore at the end of his life. The mascot of the Ravens team is named Poe. Of course, he’s got nothing on our Swoop, but he is the only NFL mascot named after a literary author. Personally, when the Eagles are out of contention, I root for the Baltimore Ravens. It’s right to root for Ravens when practicing alliteration. Although, it is true that Philadelphia and Baltimore have had a literary battle going on for many years over the question of which city has more of a connection to Edgar Allen Poe. I’m sure it would irk sporty and literary Baltimorians more than a little to know that the actual raven who inspired the poem, which was a pet bird owned by Charles Dickens, is housed right here in Philadelphia at the Rosenbach Museum. The raven is stuffed, of course. And Poe (the poet, not the mascot) lived in Philadelphia while he was writing the world-famous poem.
Well, there we have it, all kinds of information for you today. We’ve covered alliteration, pigs, ravens and football. Please do me a favor, take all of those things and see if you can come up with a nice alliterative poem to encompass them all. Until then, I wish you richer writing.
Teresa Sari FitzPatrick