So at the risk of repeating myself, I am once again talking about a literary/poetic device that is about repetition, like I did with the letter ‘A.’ Today’s featured ingredient into my poetic potpourri is diacope, a cool rhetorical device all of us have
very likely definitely read, seen, and heard many times over. We also invariably use this device in our daily lives.
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Diacope or At the Risk of Repeating Myself
What is Diacope?
Diacope is a rhetorical device that uses the repetition of a word or phrase that is broken up by another word or words. It derives from the Greek word thiakhopi, meaning “cut in two”. One memorable diacope many of us have heard, “Bond. James Bond.” and another is from Shakespeare, to quote Hamlet, “To be, or not to be.”
Types of Diacope
Yes, there are varying types of diacope; and they are as below
- Vocative: The simplest, shortest form of diacope, which uses the format ‘word/phrase, noun, word/phrase,’ with the noun being a person’s name or other word used to address the person. For example, “Run, Barry, RUN!!” line from the Flash TV series.
- Extended: Simply said, when the word or phrase is repeated three times, for extended emphasis. And the word or phrase that cuts the diacope into two is normally between the second and third iterations. For example, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” from Shakespeare once again. The bard did love the diacope!
- Elaborative: Here, any word or phrase that elaborates on the subject cuts the diacope into two. It could be an an adjective or another related piece of information that further clarifies, describes, or emphasizes and enhances the repeated word or phrase. For example, this next line from Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, spoken by the character Bella Wilfer emphasizes her feelings on being poor so very effectively with diacope. “I hate to be poor, and we are degradingly poor, offensively poor, miserably poor, beastly poor.”
The Hows, Whens, and Whys of Diacope?
How To Use Diacope:
- think of what you want to emphasize; decide on a word or phrase to use for the same
- and then repeat that word or phrase using one of the above types of diacope
- also note that to be most effective, there should not be too many words between the repeated word(s) in a diacope
- another point to note is that the repeated word can take on a different form as needed. For example, run can become ran or running.
The Whens and Whys
Writers chose this rhetoric device for various reasons, some of the main ones being
- Emphasis: As with other repeated devices, diacope is used for emphasis: of emotion, of feeling, of whatever the writer or poet wants to emphasize.
- Rhythm: effective repetition of words or phrases lend a sense of rhythm and musicality. Which is why this is an often used device in song lyrics.
- To make writing memorable and persuasive: Diacope, when used well, strikes both at hearts and minds. Hence, it is also a popular tool for advertising. For those from India, you might remember “Lipton taaza chai, kamaal ki taazgi laaye.” Or with Easter just past and bunnies on everyone’s minds, you might recall this Energizer bunny slogan, “Keeps going and going and going.”
Pharrell’s Happy uses this to get people moving and clapping, and feeling happier (well, sometimes, it might grate on your nerves after the nth hearing; like Baby Shark, which incidentally uses loads of repetition too!)
Huh (Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
Shel Silverstein’s poems (like so many other poems as well) often use diacope and other repetitive devices. You can see for yourself how this helps in the poem below….
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be
One More Example, Simply Because
And to illustrate with a normal vs a diacopic sentence
- Normal: We laughed a lot.
- Diacopic: We laughed and laughed; we laughed until our tummies hurt, we laughed until we cried.
You can check out more examples in the links below.
h/t, References, and Further Reading
Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love
Title: Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love
Author: Pat Mora
Length: 165 pages
Genre: Children’s Poetry/Teen and YA Poetry (12 – 15 years, and up)
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (January 12th 2010)
Source: Library copy
Description: Beloved children’s book author and speaker Pat Mora has written an original collection of poems, each with a different teen narrator sharing unique thoughts, moments, sadness, or heart’s desire: the girl who loves swimming, plunging into the water that creates her own world; the guy who leaves flowers on the windshield of the girl he likes. Each of the teens in these 50 original poems, written using a variety of poetic forms, will be recognizable to the reader as the universal emotions, ideas, impressions, and beliefs float across the pages in these gracefully told verses.
The poems in this book will trigger treasured memories, spark smiles and sadness, evoke emotions all over, and over again. Each one will either remind the reader of something they have been through themselves or have known someone who experienced it. From those feelings of sweetness and nervousness of first loves, to the bittersweet feelings of rejection; from tough love to love of lost ones; and more, this book has a poem for everything.
Of course, there are poems about teenage love; but this book of poems all written by Mora from perspectives of teen narrators wonderfully shows that love is way beyond that. A poem titled “Please” is a heartfelt plea and call to a loved one in prison, while “Our Private Rhyme” talks about a lost loved one. Another one talks about the love between sisters, while another titled “Valentine to Papi” just left me with major feels..
So this book has something for everyone to enjoy. And I also appreciated that Mora experiments with different forms across the poems, with a brief one-liner description of the form used before the poem(s).
A sweet read that is bound to tug at heartstrings, make you smile, leave you teary-eyed, have you nodding in agreement, or something in between, or all of it.
Get It Here
Other Poetic ‘D’ Reads
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, as always, and always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions, as well as recommendations. What do you think about the diacope? Is it delightful? Truly delightful? Or something else altogether?
The AtoZ Challenges
You can find all my A2Z Challenge Posts here.