An Introduction to Epistrophe
Epistrophe (also known as antistrophe; derives from the Greek word “ἐπιστροφή”, meaning “return”), is a rhetorical device in which the same word or phraseOpens in new window is repeated at the end of successive clausesOpens in new window, lines or verses for rhetorical elegance.
In another variety, a figure through which the concluding words of one sentence are repeated severally at the end of each following sentences.
The Epistrophe is only concerned with ending of a passage as contrary to AnaphoraOpens in new window, which takes repetition in the beginning of a passage.
Examples of Epistrophe
Epistrophe also termed as Epiphora is quite prominent in musical lyrics as well as in literature. One of the notable examples of epistrophe in music is focused on the work of the famous lyricist “Howard DietzOpens in new window” where he employed the device in his classic theater song “triplests”; in which he hammered home a striking rhythm:
- “they looked alike, and dressed alike, and walked alike, and talked alike.”
Irving BerlinOpens in new window’s classic “All Alone” thus also employed the device:
- “Wonderng where you are, and how you are, and If you are all alone too.”
Below are other examples of epistrophe, particularly in literature and politics:
Notice the repeated element, Jack kennedy, is put at the front rather than the end of the third clause, then moved back to the end for the finish. The variety adds to the force of the device when it resumes.
The general purposes of Epistrophe tend to be similar to those of Anaphora Opens in new window, but the sound is different, and often a bit subtler, because the repetition does not become evident until each time a sentence or clause ends.
Sometimes Epistrophe can be easier to use, and it tends to be convenient on different occasions; because the parts of speech that most naturally go at the end of an English sentence or clause aren’t the same as the ones that come most naturally at the start.