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What is Rhyme and Rhyme Scheme of a Poem

What is Rhyme and Its Importance

Rhyme of a poem means similar stressed vowel sounds occur mostly in the last words and sometimes in the middle words of the verses of a stanza or poem. Common vowel sounds are also called "Assonance" and common consonant sounds are called "Consonance". For example 'money' and 'honey' have rhyming sounds with each other. Both words have similar stressed vowel sound 'ey' which makes them rhyming words. When this type of words occur in the middle or end of both the lines of a verse, it is called rhyming verse. Rhyme has been an important feature of english poetry since Chaucer's Age. Rhyme along with meter is used to create music and rhythm in poetry and gives different poetical forms to the poem. However there are some poetical forms like blank verse and free verse where rhyme is not used.

What is Rhyme Scheme of a Poem

Rhyming sounds in every line of a stanza are collectively called rhyme scheme of a poem. Rhyme scheme lends smoothness, appeal, musicality ,ear-fascinating rhythm and an effect of unity to poem. Most part of english poetry keeps rhyme as an essential element but some portion of english poetry especially modern poetry does not give considerable importance to rhyme scheme.

How to Find Rhyme Scheme of a Poem

Rhyme scheme is a typical pattern of rhymes of a stanza in a poem. Normally poets use rhyme scheme to add a musical sound effect to their poems. To find out rhyme scheme of a poem we have to identify rhymes occurring at the end of every line of stanza and label every new ending rhyme with a different letters. If the same rhyme occurs again in the same stanza then again same above given letter will be assigned to the identical rhyme. In the end arrange all the letters assigned at the end of every line in an order and there will be rhyme scheme for a stanza. Rhyme scheme of first stanza of a poem remains same for the whole poem.

For Example

rhyme scheme of daffodils

rhyme scheme of daffodils

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So in the above image there is a poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth. The rhyme scheme of first stanza is ABABCC where first line ends with the rhyme cloud which is given letter A and second line ends with the rhyme hills which is given letter B. Third line ends with the similar rhyme crowd as of first line cloud so it is again given letter A. Same is the case with fourth line which ends with the similar rhyme daffodils as of second line hills, so it is agian given letter B. Fifth and sixth line end with trees and breeze respectively so they are given C letter. As a whole it becomes ABABCC and same rhythm scheme follows in every stanza throughout the poem.

Some Common Rhyme Schemes

The sound pattern i.e rhymes help dividing the poem into different sections, in other words rhyme scheme helps the poet in thematic development of the poem and creates different stages in the poem. For instance in Shakespearean sonnet in first three quatrains, poet puts different questions and in final couplet answers them. There are different and unnumbered rhyme schemes in poetry but still some rhyme schemes are common and mostly used by the great poets in their poems.

  • Alternate Rhyme:      (ABAB CDCD)
    In alternate rhyme first and third lines end with identical sounds, and second and fourth lines end with another identical sound. Thus it becomes ABAB and is usually found in poems having four (quatrains) or eight lines (octaves/octets). It is the most common rhyme pattern and sometimes is called birhymes.
  • Couplet:      (AA)
    Couplet is a pair of lines with rhyming sounds at the end of them. It becomes AA, BB, CC, DD like in the poem Leisure by William Davies.
  • Triplet        (AAA, BBB, CCC)
    Triplets are three lines stanza (tercet) which keep all three lines end with identical sounds. Triplets are rarely used in poetry and are sometimes called monorhyme. Example is poem The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • Ballad        (ABCB)
    Ballad comprises of four lines stanza with mostly ABCB and sometimes with ABAB rhyme pattern. But ballad varies in meter, first and third lines with tetrameter while second and fourth lines with trimeter. Rime of the Ancient Mariner by S T Coleridge is one of the best examples of ballad.
  • Petrarchan Rhyme        (ABBAABBA CDCDCD)
    In Petrarchan sonnet 14 lines are divided in an octet (8 lines stanza) and a sestet (6 lines stanza). The octet is rhymed in ABBAABBA pattern and sestet is rhymed in CDCDCD pattern. How do I love thee by Elizabeth B Browning is one of the best examples of Petrarchan sonnet.
  • Shakespearean Rhyme        (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG)
    Only Shakespearean sonnet equals Petrarchan sonnet in freshness, quality and poetic grandeure. Shakespeare uses iambic pentameter in three quatrains and a couplet completing fourteen lines with rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. One of the best and most quoted sonnets of William Shakespeare is sonnet 18 Shall I compare thee to a summer's day.
  • Embracing Rhyme        (ABBA CDDC)
    Embracing rhyme is formed with four lines and it is when two uttermost verses of a stanza with same rhyme enclose inner two verses having same rhyme i.e ABBA. Poem The Trees by Philip Larkin is the best example of embracing rhyme.
  • Chain Rhyme        (ABA BCB CDC)
    Chain rhyme links all stanzas of a poem in a sequence where every second rhyme of terza rima (three lines stanza) wraps the second rhyme of next stanza like ABA BCB CDC. Here are some examples of chain rhyme.
  • Tail Rhyme        (AAB CCB / AAAB CCCB)
    In tail rhyme every stanza either it is of three lines or more lines, ends with specific rhyme. In tail rhyme there is no limit of lines per stanza but 'B' rhyme is necessary to end with. Rudyard Kipling's The Undertaker's Horse is an example of tail rhyme.

Types of Rhyme

Different forms of rhyme are found in English poetry, they are different in their sound patterns and number of syllables.

  • Perfect Rhyme
    Perfect rhyme form takes identical vowels and last consonants of stressed syllables in rhyming lines of a stanza. It is less common rhyme but every reader before reading a poem expects perfect rhyme in the poem he is going to read. It is also called Full rhyme, True rhyme or Exact rhyme.
  • Imperfect Rhyme
    In imperfect rhyme final vowel and consonant syllables remain same but final consonants do not share same stress pattern. In stress pattern of last consonants it is exactly opposite of perfect rhyme. Imperfect rhyme is also called Slant rhyme, Half rhyme, Para rhyme or Near rhyme.
  • Internal Rhyme
    In internal rhyme same sound occurs in the middle and end of the same line or sometimes same sound sound occurs in the middle of two separate sentences. Rhymes lend musical effect to the poems and make them easier to recite and remember. It is also called Middle rhyme.
  • Eye Rhyme
    In eye rhyme two words at the end of two lines are spelled same but pronounced differently. In fact, they are deception by writer for readers because they look like rhyming sounds but actually they do not.
  • Masculine Rhyme
    Masculine rhyme is when rhyme is on the final syllable of the rhyming words and final syllables of rhyming words are stressed. Most often when rhyming words are monosyllabic, the rhyme is said to be masculine.
  • Feminine Rhyme
    Feminine rhyme is when first syllable of the rhyming words is stressed and final syllable of rhyming word is unstressed. It is often called Double rhyme because it must contain more than one syllable i.e polysyllabic.
  • End Rhyme
    End rhyme is the most common form of rhyme, it is when a poem has some certain rhyming words at the end of every line of a poem. In other words rhyme scheme of a poem indicates end rhyme and it is used in almost every poem except blank verse.

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