Last updated on Jan. 14, 2003
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|
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|
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,|
|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.
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.]
See the end of othe other version of this page for the answers.