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Often used in political speeches and occasionally in prose and poetry, anaphora is the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which uses anaphora not only in its oft-quoted “I have a dream” refrain but throughout, as in this passage when he repeats the phrase “go back to”:

                           Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, 
                           go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and
                           ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can
                           and will be changed.

In Joanna Klink's poem “Some Feel Rain,” the phrase "some feel" is repeated, which creates a rhythm and a sense of an accumulating emotions and meanings:

                 Some feel rain. Some feel the beetle startle
                 in its ghost-part when the bark
                 slips. Some feel musk. Asleep against
                 each other in the whiskey dark, scarcely there.

See Paul Muldoon’s “As,” William Blake’s “The Tyger,” or much of Walt Whitman’s poetry, including “I Sing the Body Electric.” See also Rebecca Hazelton's explanatory essay, “Adventures in Anaphora.”

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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