Monday, November 25, 2013

Repeat After Me: Anaphora

Alliteration, onomatopoeia, allegory, and similes are well known literary devices. I just learned a new one. Well, I didn’t just learn the device, but I learned the name for the device. It’s called anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences, clauses, and/or verses.

This new knowledge comes to me thanks to the January 2014 edition of Writer Magazine. Probably the best known example of anaphora is Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech given in 1963 at the March on Washington. King repeats the phrase “I have a dream” at the beginning of his sentences.

“… I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood …”

Anaphora. Great word, isn’t it? Great device, don’t you think?