S407 Survey of Spanish Literature I

F. Jehle

Asonancia

Assonance (asonancia or rima asonante) is a type of rhyme where only the vowels “rhyme” or are similar-sounding; consonants are ignored. The same as with perfect rhyme, assonantal “rhyme” begins with the last stressed vowel of a line of poetry, and may consist of either one or two syllables, depending on whether or not the last stressed vowel is the final syllable in the line. In Spanish, two-syllable rhyme is called “feminine”; one-syllable rhyme is termed “masculine”.

Masculine assonance (asonancia masculina): This is one-syllable rhyme; that is, the rhyme words are stressed on the last syllable and thus the rhyme involves only the last vowel (remember, consonants are ignored). Examples of words which share the same masculine assonance:

campeador  
 

 

  assonance in “ó” (the last syllable in all 3 words has a stressed “ó”)
Carrión
habló

Feminine assonance (asonancia feminina): This is two-syllable rhyme, where the rhyme words are stressed on the next-to-last syllable and have two parallel vowels (a stressed vowel plus an unstressed one; consonants are ignored). Examples of words with the same feminine assonance:

muerta 
 

 

  assonance in “e-a” (in each word the last two syllables contain a stressed “e” followed by an unstressed “a”)
penas
golpea

Originally, assonance was found at the end of long lines of poetry, and the line had a pause or break in the middle of it called a caesura (cesura). The following example is assonance in “í-a”, in long-line form.

“¡Merced, ya Cid, barba tan cumplida!
 

 

  assonance in “í-a”, found at the end of each long line
Fem' ante vos, vuestras fijas
ifantes son e de días chic as.”

Frequently, however, Spanish poetry is displayed on the written page not as a series of long lines with a caesura but rather as short lines; in this case assonance typically occurs in the even numbered lines (los versos pares). Thus the same three full-lines (or six half-lines) given above could be written this way:

“¡Merced, ya Cid,
barba tan cumplida!
 

 

  assonance in “í-a”, found at the end of every other verse (in a series of short lines)
Fem' ante vos,
vuestras fijas
ifantes son
e de días chicas.”

With assonance, there is no set number of verses for a stanza (estrofa). Usually, the term tirada is given to a series of verses using the same assonance; a tirada may contain anywhere from four lines to 400 or more. However, in literary-type ballads (romances) poets often divide up a poem into 4-line stanzas, using one assonance for the entire poem.


Práctica


All of the selections given below use assonance. Determine the assonance for each, underlining the vowels involved and writing the assonance in the space provided. [Note: The poems are not given in their entirety; only the first verses are quoted here.]

Romance de la penitencia del rey Rodrigo

Allí arriba, en alta sierra,
alta sierra montesina,
donde cae la nieve a copos
y el agua menuda y fría,
donde canta la culebra
por el pedregal arriba,
allí había un ermitaño
que hacía muy santa vida.

Asonancia: _____________________


Romance de doña Alda

En París está doña Alda, la esposa de don Roldán;
trescientas damas con ella para la acompañar;
todas vistan un vestido, todas calzan un calzar,
todas comen a una mesa, todas comían de un pan,
sino era doña Alda, que era la mayoral.

Asonancia: _____________________


“Del caer de las hojas”, por Juan Meléndez Valdés

¡Oh, cuál con estas hojas,
que en sosegado vuelo
de los árboles giran,
circulando en el viento,
mil imágenes tristes
hierven ora en mi pecho,
que anublan su alegría
y apagan mis deseos!

Asonancia: _____________________


“La flor del Zurguén”, por Juan Meléndez Valdés

Parad, airecillos,
y el ala encoged;
que en plácido sueño
reposa mi bien.
Parad, y de rosas
tejedme un dosel,
do del sol se guarde
la flor del Zurguén.

Asonancia: _____________________



Answers: 1: í-a (fem.); 2: á (masc.); 3: e-o (fem.); 4: é (masc.).