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Epistrophe

Epistrophe is the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses, sentences, or verses.

Psst. Here's a secret. Lincoln was a poet and he didn't even know it (yes, we know that is the most cliche rhyme ever).

 

The English language never really makes it too easy for us, does it? For example, "repetition" is one thing but there are different words for every specific type of repetitive process. Take epistrophe, which is the repetition of a word of phrase at the end of successive clauses, sentences, or verses. This type of repetition comes in handy when trying to drive a point home in an argument because the same word(s) is present at the end of every idea and the listener doesn't even have an opportunity to draw a conclusion other than what is presented to them. We bet you already use epistrophe all the time without knowing it. You might've been in a situation where you've had to yell at a younger sibling for trying to bother you in your room. An argument on your end probably sounded a little like this" "Get out of my room! This is my room! You're not allowed inhere because it's not your room, it's my room!" If this sounds familiar then you're already an epistrophe expert because you know how to repeat phrases at the end of sentences to prove a point. Politicians are also pros at epistrophe because it's a perfect technique to use in speeches where the presenter is trying to reassure the audience of something. One of the most famous uses of epistrophe in a speech is President Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address." Lincoln told his audience, "...this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." He repeated the phrase "the people" at the end of each idea to emphasixe ideas of equality and democracy. Who knew you and Lincoln had so much in common?!

Now put that epistrophe expertise to work and try to find the repetitive verses in these poems:

The Merchant of Venice (Excerpt)

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

If you had known the virtue of the ring,

Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,

Or your own honour to contain the ring,

You would not then have parted with the ring.

What man is there so much unreasonable,

If you had pleased to have defended it

With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty

To urge the thing held as a ceremony?

Nerissa teaches me what to believe:

I'll die for't but some woman had the ring.

You've Got a Friend in Me

BY RANDY NEWMAN

You've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

When the road looks rough ahead

And you're miles and miles

From your nice warm bed

You just remember what your old pal said

Boy, you've got a friend in me

Yeah, you've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

 

You've got troubles, and I've got 'em too

There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you

We stick together and can see it through

'Cause you've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

 

Some other folks might be

A little bit smarter than I am

Bigger and stronger too, maybe

But none of them will ever love you

The way I do, it's me and you, boy

And as the years go by

Our friendship will never die

You're gonna see it's our destiny

 

You've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

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