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Anaphora is a rhetorical device.  It is the repetition of an opening phrase in successive sentences.  You may have seen this before.  It can be a very powerful technique both in public speaking and in the written word to build emotional tension and/or set a mood. 

Here' are a couple of famous examples from literature:

"It rained on his lousy tombstone, and it rained on the grass on his stomach. It rained all over the place."

From "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. "

From "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens

Can you think of some examples of anaphora?  Some original sentences in which you use this device?  Or do you have any favorite passages from literature or speeches that you would like to share as examples?

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Song lyrics use recurring motifs like these to reinforce themes all the time. Think of the final verse from Pink Floyd's "Dogs":

Who was born in a house full of pain

Who was trained not to spit in the fan

Who was told what to do by the man

Who was broken by trained personnel

Who was fitted with collar and chain

Who was given a pat on the back

Who was breaking away from the pack

Who was only a stranger at home

Who was ground down in the end

Who was found dead on the phone

Who was dragged down by the stone

It's the best example I can think of off-hand as the repetition is continuous throughout, whereas other songs might have one or two repeating lines in succession.

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  • 8 months later...

One anaphora which comes to mind is the lines which begin, Let freedom ring,which comes from Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, I have a dream.

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