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Rhyme in Dover Beach and Selected Poems

Rhyme Examples in Dover Beach and Selected Poems:

Dover Beach

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" melancholy, long, withdrawing..."   (Dover Beach)

This line, with its combination of consonance and assonance, is one of the most musical lines in the poem. The assonance emerges in the repetition of short o sounds, heard in “melan-chol-y,” “long,” and “with-draw-ing.” The consonance occurs in the frequent repetition of the liquid consonants, l and r. These sounds imitate the repetitive cadences of the sea as it washes against the shore.

"Begin, and cease, and then again begin,..."   (Dover Beach)

In this line, Arnold fuses sound with meaning, form with content. The description of the tides pushing pebbles upon the shore is conveyed in language that is, like tides, rhythmic and cyclical. The iambic pentameter is crisp in its rising and falling cadences. Each word in the line contains an n in the final consonant sounds, producing a cascading effect. The only exception is “cease,” a thematically apt move that pauses the flow of n sounds in its evocation of the waves themselves pausing. Finally, the line both begins and ends with the word “begin,” a choice that subtly conveys the cyclicality of the tides, for which each end is always a beginning.

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