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Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock
Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock
by Wallace Stevens

Sound Check

Read this poem aloud. What do you hear?

This poem may be free verse, but it's got all kinds of delights going on in the sonic department. Let's break it down:

Line 1: Alliteration alert! "Houses" and "haunted" both start with the same consonant sound.
Line 2: Internal rhyme, anyone? "White" and "night" were made for each other.
Line 3: Consonance. "None are green." Gee, thanks for all the N sounds, Wally.
Line 4: Near rhyme—it's close enough. "Green" kind of sounds like "rings." Okay, it's not perfect. But that's because it's a near rhyme, or slant rhyme.
Line 7: Near rhyme strikes again. "Strange" and "rings" sound a bit alike.
Line 15: Assonance—your new best friend. "Red" and "weather" have rhyming vowel sounds.

That's an awful lot of repeated sounds for such a tiny poem. What's the effect of all that? Well, for one thing, it helps tie the poem together—to push you through those short lines as a reader. In short, they help the poem feel like one thought, rather than a progression or a story. We come away from the poem with one impression left in our minds: imagination is better than… well, just about anything.

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