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[The pub-crowd’s yakety-yak quiets to a murmur.]

Hi, everyone!  Sheila, here and I want to welcome you to today’s Poetics where we will be clicking our keyboards to create onomatopoeic poetry.

But first, please, sit back (CRASH!) – um, not that far back 🙂 – relax, munch on those pretzels Chris left here last Monday and enjoy your drinks (glug, glug) while I present to you the ooh’s and ah’s of onomatopoeia.

Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Animal sounds such as quack (duck), moo (cow), woof (dog), meow (cat), and baa (sheep) are good examples. Others include comic book style onomatopoeias such as wham!, pow!, biff! and

Product advertisements that have used onomatopoeias with great success include Rice Krispies, the cereal that makes “snap, crackle, and pop” sounds when doused with milk and Alka-Seltzer, the antacid that goes “plop, plop, fizz, fizz.”

Onomatopoeia in Poetry

Aural effect is an important aspect of poetry. We choose our words not only for their meanings but also for their sounds to produce certain rhythms or cadences, rhymes (consonance and assonance) and moods for our poems.

Onomatopoeias can be used directly or indirectly in poetry.

Directly, they imitate natural sounds such as buzz, clap, and tick-tock and are often used in nursery rhymes.  Direct onomatopoeias are also found in classic poetry such as in the following excerpt from ‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred

Indirect onomatopoeias are combinations of sounds used to create a particular mood related to the subject. For example, in the last two lines of ‘Come Down O Maid’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson, the poet’s excessive use of the letters ‘m’ and ‘n’ produce an atmosphere of murmuring insects.

…the moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.

Indirect onomatopoeia can also be used by repeating words which themselves are not onomatopoeic such as in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Bells.’

Silver bells…how they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle…
…From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

For today’s Poetics,

  • write a poem using at least one onomatopoeia.  Check out The Written Sound for a great list of onomatopoeias.
  • Click on the Mr. Linky button below.
  • In the new window, enter your name and the exact URL of your poem and click the submit button.
  • Please visit the other participants as you can, commenting and sharing as you see fit.

I hope you have a great and poetic weekend.  I will be shuush-shuushing down the ski slopes and look forward to reading your poems when I return.

Break a leg (while I try not to!)  SNAP!!!

P.S. I reposted an onomatopoeia poem that I created a while back, if you would like to view another example.