, ,

Hello, this is Frank Hubeny. The challenge for the next two days is to use a polyptoton somewhere in your poem. Outside of keeping the poem under 200 words, which is just to limit the size of the entries, there are no other constraints.

Polyptoton is a rhetorical device used for style and persuasiveness. It is a special kind of repetition where the common base of a word is repeated, but not the whole word exactly.

One example of this is “I dreamed a dream.” Others would be “a song unsung” or “life worth living”.

In the first example, the words “dreamed” and “dream” are not the same, but they are very similar. It might seem odd for someone to not start telling us what the dream was about after saying “I dreamed”. Instead of telling us about the dream, all we get is “a dream”. On one level this is not satisfying, however, this repetition does emphasize the unreality of what one dreamed. It was just a dream. The near repetition also adds a potentially pleasing aural experience much like alliteration, assonance and rhyme. As a stylistic device it focuses the reader’s or listener’s attention on what should be important in the message.

If you wish to know more about this, Wikipedia provides examples of polyptoton and suggests that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein used polypton throughout her novel. The ifioque site also provides examples and analysis of various contexts where writers have used polyptoton.

Here is Susan Boyle singing “I Dreamed a Dream”. Listen for the polyptotons in the lyrics. Does this stylistic device help make the song more pleasing to the listeners? Let me know in the comments below. Whether it does or not it is useful being aware of the technique.

To participate in this challenge use at least one polyptoton somewhere in your poem of less than 200 words. Post it to your blog, copy the link to that blog post and paste it in the Mister Linky below. The link will be open for 48 hours. Come back and read what other people have posted to see how they approached this challenge