Assonance, often used as an intensifier of language and emotion, is used sparingly throughout "Home Burial," and is more common in the lines spoken by the wife, the more emotional of the pair. For instance, in lines 78-81, assonance helps emphasize the bitter way she criticizes her husband for the way he buried their child:
I saw you from that very window there,
Making the gravel leap and leap in air,
Leap up, like that, like that, and land so lightly
And roll back down the mound beside the hole.
The rare end rhyme of "there" and "air" helps show the way the wife has gotten up in the recollection of this moment; she is recounting a memory so familiar that she's slipped into a storytelling cadence. The assonance of the long /ow/ sound in "down" and "mound," a sound that is more painful than plaintive, serves as an important reminder that underneath all this—the wife's rebuke and reproach, her well-worn grievances toward her husband—is a deep well of grief and sorrow.
Assonance plays this role throughout the poem, serving as an emotional weather vane, emphasizing the feelings that underpin both characters' choice of words as they struggle to express themselves. Long /oh/ sounds in particular are prominent, appearing several times throughout the poem. In line 111, for example, the wife passionately cries, "Oh, I won't, I won't!" Here, she literally cries out with a long, sad "Oh," expressing the sound's grief-stricken qualities to the fullest, before echoing it twice in the word "won't," as she vows to stay true to her unending sorrow.