Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. Assonance does not have to be a rhyme; the identity of which depends merely on sequence of both vowel and consonant sounds. Thus, assonance is a resemblance of units that are generally less than a syllable.
English poetry is rich with examples of assonance:
on a proud round cloud in white high night— E. E. Cummings, if a cheerfulest Elephantangelchild should sit
It also occurs in prose:
Soft language issued from their spitless lips as they swished in low circles round and round the field, winding hither and thither through the weeds.— James Joyce, "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"
Fire at the private eye hired to pry in my business.— Eminem, 'Criminal'
Dead in the middle of little Italy little did we know that we riddled some middleman who didn't do diddly.— Big Pun, 'Twinz'
It is also heard in other forms of popular music:
I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless— Thin Lizzy, "With Love"
Assonance is common in proverbs, such as:
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
The early bird catches the worm.
These proverbs can be a form of short poetry, as in the following Oromo proverb, which describes someone with a big reputation among those who do not know them well:
kan mana baala, aʔlaa gaala (A leaf at home, but a camel elsewhere)
Note the complete assonance in this Amharic proverb:
yälämmänä mänämmänä (The one who begs fades away)
- Assonance, American Rhetoric: Rhetorical Figures in Sound
- Assonance, Modern & Contemporary American Poetry, University of Pennsylvania
- Definition of Assonance, Elements of Poetry, VirtuaLit