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Whose Rhyme is it Anyway?
by Dana Mitchells

Return to Poetry & Greeting Cards · Print/Mobile-Friendly Version

Rhyme has been a part of poetry for centuries, from the lyre-playing bards of medieval England to modern vocalists of today. While the word "rhyme" traditionally indicates a pairing of words that sound the same, it has come to mean a technique employed in poetry writing. Indeed, this new type of rhyming has expanded to free verse poetry, where internal and sight rhyme can easily take place.

Rhyme in poetry is usually classified by two things: Its location in the poem and the number of syllables in certain words.

There are no rules about which type of rhyme you should or shouldn't use when writing poetry. Understanding the various rhyme forms out there can help you better your craft at writing poetry and appreciating it even more.

While this article is not meant to cover every rhyme used in poetry today, it will explore the various types of rhyme you can experiment with or incorporate into your poetry-writing. Additionally, the samples used in this article are strictly my own.

The Location of the Rhyme

Where you put the rhyme in your poem is up to you; you can rhyme at the end of your sentences or inside of them.

The End Rhyme. For poems with rhymes that occur at the end of a sentence, this is called end rhyme. An example of an end rhyme:

I went to school full of joy,
Eager to meet each girl and boy.

End rhymes are common in both traditional and modern poetry. Although they are not so popular today as they were during the Romantic Era, poets today still use end rhymes and it's not hard to find a song that doesn't use them. They do not necessarily need to follow the preceding line; one rhyme can be a stanza's first and third line.

End rhymes can be found in poems such as "Romance" by Edgar Allan Poe and "Epistle to Hugh Parker" by Robert Burns. See also: "The Day is Done" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and "Blood and The Moon" by William Butler Yeats.

The Internal Rhyme. With a poem that has a rhyme inside of the sentence, it is called an internal rhyme. The following is an example of an internal rhyme:

I was sad because my dad
Made me eat every beet.

The poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe makes copious use of the internal rhyme.

The Broken Rhyme. There are debates about what exactly a broken rhyme is. Traditionally, a broken rhyme occurs in a poem when the a word is broken between verses. For example:

There is nothing quite so im-
polite as yawning in a church.

Another source lists a broken rhyme occurring when rhyming words are used at the end of one sentence and at the beginning of the next. As an example:

We cheered them in their glory,
Gory as it was.

Finally, another definition of the broken rhyme states that it is a type of rhyme where words are broken off with an ellipsis (...). An example of this type of rhyme:

We wandered aimlessly ... throughout the cold dark night ...
Wandering, never resting ... never speaking of our pain.

Or:

She spoke with a soft voice....
almost like an angel's song....
with skin so fair and soft....

Syllable Rhyme

How many syllables there are in words and the sounds of them can determine what kind of rhyme you'll have in your poem.

If you are rhyming words such as "happiness" and "sappiness," you are using what is known as a triple rhyme. The singular rhyme, such as with the words "bee" and "see," is called the masculine rhyme. The double rhyme, for words such as "table" and "cable," is referred to as a feminine rhyme.

The Open and Closed Rhyme. An open rhyme is when there is a rhyme ending with a vowel or a soft consonant, such as "we/see" and "do/dew." Alternatively, the closed rhyme is when there is a rhyme ending with a hard consonant, as with the words "dog/clog."

The Sound of Rhyme. Not all rhyme means words that sound the same. But when they do, it is called a perfect rhyme. The perfect rhyme occurs when you use the words "honey/funny" or "mine/fine." The perfect rhyme is also called a sound rhyme.

However, a near rhyme is when you have words put together in your rhyme scheme that sound nearly the same, such as with the words "taut/sat." This is also called a slanted rhyme. An alternative to the near rhyme is the sight rhyme (with words like "blood" and "good"), which is also called a visual rhyme.

Finally, forced rhyme is used in a poem when the writer of the verse puts a rhyme where it seems to be out of place. In their attempts to end their lines with perfect rhyme, some poets resort to using forced rhyme, employing nonexistent words in the guise of appearing unique or using poorly constructed sentences. Although there's no law against using forced rhyme in a poem, it is often looked down upon and the poet ends up being taken for an amateur. Most magazines often reject poem submissions that use forced rhyme.

An example of a forced rhyme would be:

It made me scream with such great fervor.
It was a great un-nerver.

Or:

I blushed from his sweet compliment.
To the heavens my heart was sent.

The next time you read a poem (your own or someone else's), pay close attention to the words they use and how they use them. Has a poet used slanted rhyme? Feminine or masculine? Are you able to catch the internal rhyme or a sight rhyme?

Becoming acquainted with the various types of rhyme used in poetry will open doors to more poetry writing for you. And the better you get at using them, the greater your chances of getting your poetry published.

Copyright © 2007 Dana Mitchells
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.


Dana Mitchells is the Internet pen name of the writer Dawn Colclasure http://dmcwriter.tripod.com). Her work has appeared online in Worldwide Freelance Writer, Writing-World, Absolute Write, and Writing Etc., among others. She has been published in magazines and her poems have been published both on- and offline, in magazines such as HIP Magazine of Connecticut and Skyline Literary Magazine, and online in EOTU Ezine of Fiction, Art and Poetry, Panic! Poetry & Arts, All-Info About Poetry and TMP Irregular. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Take My Hand and Topiary Dreams and the former poetry editor for Skyline E-Magazine.

 

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