Last updated on Jan. 14, 2003

Assonance

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   (the last syllable in all 3 words has a stressed o)
Carrión assonance in ó
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   (in each word the last two syllablic vowels are first astressed e and then an unstressed a)
penas assonance in e-a
golpean

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 chicas.

More 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 given above could be written:
      ¡Merced, ya Cid,   assonance in í-a (found at the end of every other verse in a series of short lines)
barba tan cumplida!
Fem' ante vos,
vuestras fijas
ifantes son
e de días chicas.

Poetry is typically divided up into stanzas (estrofas). If assonance is used in a poem instead of perfect rhyme, frequently there are no stanzas at all. Instead, the poem is composed of one or more tiradas. A tirada is series of verses using the same assonance; it may contain any number of lines, from four to several hundred. However, in more literary works the poet may divide the poem into stanzas, often of four lines each.



Practice

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.]

  1. 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: _____________________

  2. 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: _____________________

  3. 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: _____________________

  4. 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: _____________________ 


See the end of othe other version of this page for the answers.


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Texto por Fred F. Jehle <jehle@ipfw.edu>