Resemblance or similarity in sound between vowels followed by different consonants in two or more stressed syllables. Assonance differs from RHYME in that RHYME is a similarity of vowel and consonant. "Lake" and "fake" demonstrate RHYME; "lake" and "fate" assonance. Assonance is a common substitution for END-RHYME in the popular ballad, as in these lines from "The Twa Corbies":
In behint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new-slain Knight.
Such substitution of assonance for END-RHYME is also characteristic of Emily Dickinson's verse, and is used extensively by many con- temporary poets.
As an enriching ornament within the line, assonance is of great use to the poet. Poe and Swinburne used it extensively for musical effect. Gerard Manley Hopkins introduced modern poets to its wide use. The skill with which Dylan Thomas manipulates assonance is one of his high achievements. Note its complex employment in the first STANZA of Thomas' "Ballad of the Long-Legged Bait":
The bows glided down, and the coast
Blackened with birds took a last look
At his thrashing hair and whale-blue eye
The trodden town rang its cobbles for luck.
Assonance is involved in "bows" (pronounced "boughs") and "down"; "blackened," "last," "thrashing," "hair," "whale," and "rang"; "took" and "look"; and "trodden" and "cobbles." (In passing one might also note the pattern of ALLITERATION in this stanza and that the RHYMING of look with luck is an example of consonance.)