Polysyndeton involves the repeated use of conjunctions (such as “and,” “or,” or “but”) to create a sense of emphasis, rhythm, or continuity in a sentence or passage. Unlike asyndeton, which omits conjunctions for effect, polysyndeton adds extra conjunctions to create a deliberate effect. This can give a sense of accumulation, amplification, or urgency to the words being connected. Polysyndeton is a common device in both prose and poetry, and can be used to create a range of effects, from the rhythmic to the emotional.
Examples of polysyndeton:
“I said, ‘Who killed him?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know who killed him but he’s dead all right,’ and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Key and she was all right.” – Ernest Hemingway, After the Storm
“We lived and laughed and loved and left.” – James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
“The meal was simple but delicious: a salad and a steak and potatoes and green beans and a glass of red wine and a slice of apple pie and a cup of coffee.” – John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
“We walked and talked and laughed and sang and danced and kissed and loved under the moonlight.” – Unknown
“And fastened with a single feather / With thread of their own make” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner