Consonance, the repetition of consonants within two or more words in sequence, is a popular, multifaceted literary device. It is often confused with alliteration, which is a type of consonance. Consonance serves many similar functions as alliteration as well as its own special functions. Generally speaking, consonance in poetry provides varied auditory range.
Modern poems use consonance as a slant rhyme or near rhyme. This consonance in slant or near rhyme allows the writer more creative freedom when creating his or her poetry. Consonance in poetry also emphasizes words by forcing the audience to take pause and think deeper into the “rhyming” words. This is because it disrupts the audience’s expectations of traditional rhyming.
A stream of consonance serves the purpose of drawing the audience into the words. This happens through the metered beat that consonance takes on, just like the beats in rap music. Consonance in poetry can take on an almost hypnotic beat that captivates the audience without being as obvious as alliteration. Using different types of consonance within a poem also prevents it from sounding like a child’s rhyme, unlike a poetic device such as alliteration.
The use of consonance in poetry, just like other poetic devices such as assonance and alliteration, is said to give a poem “bounce.” The repeated consonant is always on the stressed syllable, which creates an even more emphasized sound on the consonant words. When mixed with other words within the phrase that has consonance, one's voice naturally rises and dips, creating a “bouncing” sound. This sound naturally excites the ears and the brain.
The attention to the many parts of each word and the phrases in combination with the excitement that consonance brings acts as a thread carrying the audience through the poem. These components act as a satisfying activity and even an auditory journey for the reader or listener. It makes the reader anticipate the upcoming lines within the poem and feel a desire to continue to the end. The poem thus has the potential to become almost like a game for the audience if the poet so chooses to use consonance in such a way.
Consonance also can provide added depth and texture to the words. This is because when certain words use consonance, especially double consonance or pararhyme, it emphasizes that there might be a closer semantic link between the words and the emotion that is being conveyed within the poem. This function of consonance is used often by modern poets and novelists alike.