Cacophony literally means harsh, jarring sounds--sounds that do not sound good together. In literature, cacophony is used to refer to words that have a harsh, jarring sound. Instead of the text being rhythmic or pleasant, the text is unmelodious.
From Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"--the use of nonsense words adds
cacophony to the poem:
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
William Carlos Williams's "The Great Figure" also has cacophony-notice how it is one sentence, but is written in a disjointed way. Notice how the words do not lend themselves to harmony, but to a jarring disconnect.
Among the rain
I saw the figure
on a red
to gong clangs
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.
Literary Terms Examples