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Wheeler English

Lines & Rhymes: Rhyme

From The teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms, edited by Ron Padgett.
and from A Glossary of Poetic Terms from BOB'S BYWAY (listed under "Poetry Links")

Some scholars claim that rhyme was "invented" to help make stories memorable in the days before the printing press allowed writers to publish their stories. Rhyme was not invented, but...results from our having only a limited number of sounds for making words. No human language is without rhyme.

What was invented before the printing press was a tradition of using meter and rhyme in regular patterns so that the story was memorable. This "bardic tradition" is alive and well today. Probably ninety-five percent of all popular songs written in the past ten years, like nearly all the songs written before we became "modern," rhyme exactly where tradition has decreed they should.

Many teachers discourage their students from writing rhymed poems. They point out that English vocabulary has relatively few words that rhyme and most rhymes have been "used up," that rhymed words in poems too often lead to cliches (been there, heard that...)

If you read the verses on commercial greeting cards, or analyzes most of the lyrics from popular songs, "the banality of badly rhymed English sticks out like a razor blade in jello." (Padgett). "Where one sees or hears the word 'part,' the next expected rhyme is .' If, perchance, the word is 'soon,' the reader may prepare for 'moon'." (again, Padgett)


Rhyme scheme is the pattern established by the arrangement of rhymes in a stanza or poem, generally described by using letters of the alphabet to denote the recurrence of rhyming lines, such as the ababbcc of the Rhyme Royal stanza form.

The opening stanza of Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," with end rhymes of the words, cloud-hills-crowd-daffodils-trees-breeze, is described as having a rhyme scheme of ababcc;

the two quatrains of the poem, "La Tour Eiffel," with end words of form-warm-storm-insouciance and earth-mirth-birth-France, have an interlocking or chain rhyme scheme of aaab cccb.

Capital letters in the alphabetic rhyme scheme are used for the repeating lines of a refrain; the letters x and y indicate unrhymed lines.

In quatrains, the popular rhyme scheme of abab, as in Wordsworth's "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways," is called alternate rhyme or cross rhyme. Tennyson used an abba scheme, often called envelope rhyme, for "In Memoriam." The rhyme scheme of Fitzgerald's The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, is aaxa

figures of speech