A Word on Wednesday: Cacophony


When one thinks of poetry it draws up an image of softness, of soothing, of calming, of elite contemplative rest. However, poetry encompasses all emotions and observances of life. 

The technique of cacophony, used by poet and author Lewis Carroll in his poem “Jabberwocky” is a perfect illustration of this counter intuitive imagery style. In this verse, Carroll creates unpleasant spoken sound by using clashing consonants. 

The word cacophony originates from the Greek word meaning “bad sound.” The term in poetry refers to the use of words that combine sharp, harsh, hissing, or melodiousness sounds. Cacophony is used to achieve the effect of harsh and discordant. It is produced by combinations of words that require a staccato, explosive delivery. When used skillfully for a special effect, it vitalizes the content of the imagery.  

In general, it can be compared to a traffic jam, a meaningless mixture of sounds. It also appears as a cacophony of hoots, cackles, and wails. 

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