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Alliteration is the frequent recurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words in a verse, forming a kind of initial rhyme, e.g. :
Carking care, Green-eyed grief, and dull despair.
Kirke Whiite.
It was an essential element in Anglo-Saxon and Old English poetry, which, for the most part, consists of short couplets containing three or four accented syllables, linked together by alliterative consonance.* Here is a specimen from the openĀ­ing lines of Piers the Plowman's Visiony written by Willam Langlande about 1362 :
In a somer seson, When softe was the sonne, I shope me in shroudes As I a shepe were j In habit as an hermit, Unholy of workes.
Again, from the same poem:
There preached a pardoner, As he a prieste were ; Brought forth a bull With many bishops' seals.
See Development of Versification, p. 256.