Alliterative verseVerse that depends for its effect on alliteration. Such verse was unknown in classical Greek but common in Latin and the Celtic and Germanic languages. Old English verse such as the epic poem BEOWULF was alliterative, as in: ‘ Hwæt, we gardena in geardagum, / þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon, / hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon’. These lines have been translated into modern alliterative verse in 1973 by Michael Alexander as: ‘Attend! We have heard of the thriving of the throne of Denmark, / how the folk-kings flourished in former days’. Such verse died out with the coming of the Normans and consequent French influence, but was revived in the 13c. The best-known poems are Langland's Piers Plowman and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (both 14c). Two lines from Langland run: ‘In a somer seson whan soft was the sonne, / I shope me in shroudes, as I a shepe were’ (shope dressed, shepe ship). See ASSONANCE, ENGLISH LITERATURE, REDUPLICATION, REPETITION.
al·lit·er·ate / əˈlitəˌrāt/ • v. [intr.] (of a phrase or line of verse) contain words that begin with the same sound or letter: his first and last names alliterated. ∎ use words that begin with the same sound or letter.
al·lit·er·a·tion / əˌlitəˈrāshən/ • n. the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.