Why Use Repetition In Poetry

Why Use Repetition in Poetry?

Poetry has long been a popular form of self-expression, as well as an important means of communication throughout history. Although a wide range of techniques are employed to create compelling poetry, the practice of repeating certain words, phrases and images can greatly enhance the impact of a poem. In this article, we will explore why poets use repetition, the various types of repetition, and the ways in which repetition can be employed to great effect.

Reinforcement of Themes

One of the primary purposes for repeating certain words, phrases, or ideas throughout a poem is to reinforce the themes and messages of the piece. By using repetition, a poet can emphasize the ideas that he or she wishes to communicate. Repetition can be used to bring clarity to a message, or alternatively to increase its ambiguity. Regardless of the purpose, the repetition of certain words and ideas serves to give a poem a greater sense of continuity and enables the poet to more effectively convey their message.

Creation of Structure

Repetition can also be used as a structural device to create a sense of rhythm and flow within a piece of poetry. By utilizing different types of repetition, such as rhyme, alliteration, and assonance, a poet can shape the tempo and meter of the poem. These structural devices can also give a poem a greater sense of cohesion, allowing the poet to better tell their story in an organized and compelling manner.

Evocation of Emotions

In addition to its structural and conceptual aspects, repetition can also be employed to evoke strong emotions in the reader. By repeating certain words or phrases, the poet can create a sense of urgency and tension within a poem. Repetition also has a tendency to invoke feelings of nostalgia or sentimentality, as it can bring back memories of certain important moments in life. Through the use of repetition, the poet can more effectively touch the reader on an emotional level.

The Different Types of Repetition

Repetition can be used in a variety of forms, from the simple repeating of a single word to the sophisticated use of chiasmus or anaphora. Anaphora, for instance, is the repetition of the same phrase at the beginning of successive sentences. Chiasmus, meanwhile, is the repetition of words in a reverse order. Repetition can also be used in the form of rhyme or alliteration, which are two popular techniques used to create rhythm and flow within a poem.

Examples of Repetition

In order to illustrate the many ways in which repetition can be used, it may be helpful to take a look at some examples. In William Wordsworth’s well-known poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” we see the poet repeating the phrase “dancing daffodils” throughout the piece. This repetition serves to both emphasize the joy of the experience for the poet, as well as to create a flowing rhythm to the poem.
Similarly, in Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” we see the use of anaphora in the repeated reference to the “thing with feathers.” In this poem, the repetition serves to emphasize the speaker’s hope and faith in the idea that hope is eternal and always present in times of difficulty.

The Benefits of Repetition

It is clear that repetition can be an immensely powerful tool for poets, as it allows them to create structure, reinforce themes, and evoke emotion. Through the use of different types of repetition, a poet can craft a vibrant and compelling piece of poetry that has a lasting impact on the reader.

The Use of Repetition in Storytelling

When used effectively, repetition can be a great tool for storytellers, helping to create a greater sense of continuity and narrative flow. Repetition can be used to emphasize key parts of a story, as well as to create a sense of anticipation and climax. By employing repetition in this way, storytellers can engage their audience and bring a greater level of energy to the telling of their story.

The Use of Repetition in Songwriting

The art of songwriting is in many ways similar to the art of poetry. As such, it should come as no surprise that many of the same techniques used by poets can also be employed by songwriters. Through the use of repetition, songwriters can create a catchy chorus that stays in the listener’s mind long after the song is finished. By employing techniques such as alliteration and assonance, songwriters can craft appealing, melodic phrases that add an extra layer of vibrancy to their music.

The Use of Repetition in Education

Repetition is also an important tool for teachers who are looking to reinforce material and ensure that students have a firm understanding of core concepts. By reviewing the same material multiple times and encouraging students to practice and recite, teachers can increase student engagement and enhance the learning process.

The Role of Repetition in Theatre

The theatre is an art form that relies heavily on the use of repetition. Through the use of scripted dialogue and repeated blocking, directors can help actors craft believable characters and deliver compelling performances. Repetition can also be employed to craft interesting set pieces that add an extra layer of depth and nuance to the performances.

The Use of Repetition in Advertising

A successful advertising campaign typically utilizes a combination of catchy images, engaging music, and repetition. By repeating a certain phrase or idea, advertisers are better able to communicate their message to the target audience and create a lasting impression. Repetition also serves to remind the public of the product or service being advertised, which can help to ensure that the message is remembered long after the campaign has ended.


Repetition is a powerful tool that can be employed to great effect in poetry, story-telling, songwriting, education, theatre, and advertising. Through the use of different types of repetition, poets, storytellers, songwriters, educators and advertisers can more effectively convey their message, engage their audience, and create a lasting impression.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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