Tuesday 10 May 2011

Alliteration... in Moderation

Alliteration is definitely my friend when I'm writing horror poetry. When drama edges toward melodrama, a little alliteration is agreeably acceptable and automatically allowed! Hence:
As the doors exploded inwards with a blast of shattered wood
Striding through the smoking splinters, sneering savagely, he stood
However, if every line used alliteration the story would lose some of its weight; this is not a comedy but is, rather, a darkly dangerous diatribe... er, there I go again. The example shown above is an extreme case - 6 words beginning with 's' is on the edge of ludicrosity (a word which the OED tells me is rare but definitely real even if my spelling checker refuses to accept it).

More commonly, I will simply pair two such words together, as here:
...whose life was surely lost
...ground to powder and to paste
The mad magician’s whisperings...
Its pages, ripped and ruined...
Notice that you don't have to put the two words immediately next to each other for the alliteration to come into play.

As with all things, alliteration should be used in moderation. Unless of course you write a whole poem based entirely around words which begin with particular letters of the alphabet. Which of course brings me to this...

H P Lovecraft's ABC
by Nick Gisburne

Ancient and accursed, the amorphous arborescence grew
Blasphemously barbarous, as if for brutish beings who,
Croaking and cadaverous, convulsed in cryptic catacombs
Daemons decomposing in discordant, diabolic tombs

Effervescent effluence effused from every eldritch source
Fluctuating fluids festered, fecund with a foetid force
Gangrenous and glutinous, they gurgled on their grisly way
Heaving in a hellish haze of horrors, hunting hapless prey

Iridescent insectoids infested Earth's infernal isles
Jabbering, their jaundiced joints were jellified in jaded piles
Killing in kaleidoscopic kingdoms kept beyond our ken
Lighting up their loathsome lanterns, leprous lunatics, once men

Monstrous mottled monoliths maintained malignant mysteries
Necrophagous nightmares noted in neglected histories
Of octopoidal oligarchs, obliterated, overthrown
Palsied and pulsating to a protoplasmic pyrophone

Quivering, each quadruped's quiescence quantified its fear
Restless and remorseless, the repugnant raptor's reek drew near
Slobbering, it shuffled spectral sinews with each seething breath
Teeming, thrashing tentacles transacting a traumatic death

Underlings, unearthly, ululated in unhallowed tombs
Viscous vapours vomited in vortices from vanished rooms
Weakened, withered walkers wailed with wasted, wormy, waxen skin
Xanthomatic xerophiles drank xylene with their xeno-kin

Yearning now, we yield to you, to Yog-Sothoth, and yea, your name
Ziggurats we build with zeal at this, the zenith of your fame

The full text of H P Lovecraft's ABC can also be found on my DeviantArt page.