English Language


Shiken premium Upgrade Banner

The Art of Rhyming

Rhyming is a literary device where words have the same sound, despite their differing spellings. This adds a musical quality to text and makes it more memorable. Rhyming is commonly used in poetry, nursery rhymes, and songs with consecutive lines that rhyme.

Let's take a look at some examples of rhyming words:
Grace - lace - space
Night - flight - might
Jump - pump - thump
Shine - line - mine

As you can see, even though these words have different starting sounds, their endings sound the same. For example, 'true', 'through', and 'crew' all have the same rhyme.

Can you think of any other words that rhyme?

The origin of rhyming is not definitively known, but it is speculated to have been around since the beginning of human speech. The oldest written English rhymes date back to the 7th century, found in a 'Hymn' by the Anglo-Saxon poet Caedmon.

Types of Rhyme

There are various types of rhyme, such as perfect rhyme, imperfect rhyme, end rhyme, feminine rhyme, masculine rhyme, eye rhyme, pararhyme, monorhyme, monosyllabic rhyme, multisyllabic rhyme, and dactylic rhyme.

In this article, we will focus on the most common types of rhyme: perfect rhyme, imperfect rhyme, and end rhyme.

Perfect Rhyme

Perfect rhyme occurs when the vowel and consonant sounds of two words match perfectly. Examples of perfect rhymes include words like 'fleet' and 'treat' or 'brought' and 'thought'. These words share the same vowel sound and end in the same consonant sound.

Other examples of perfect rhymes are:
Mist - kissed - twist
Pain - gain - train
Snake - rake - lake
Unite - flight - delight

Can you think of more words that rhyme perfectly?

Perfect rhymes can also involve words with more than one syllable, such as 'double' and 'trouble', 'able' and 'table', 'flower' and 'power', and 'reasonable' and 'seasonable'.

Imperfect Rhyme

Imperfect rhyme, also known as 'half-rhyme' or 'near-rhyme', occurs when the words share some similarities in their sounds, but not enough to create a perfect match. In Emily Dickinson's poem 'Hope', the words 'soul' and 'all' may not be an exact match, but they share some similar sounds:

"Hope" is the thing with feathers -That perches in the soul -And sings the tune without the words -And never stops - at all -

In another of Dickinson's poems, 'Because I could not stop for Death', the words 'day' and 'eternity' do not share many sounds, but the repetition of the 'y' at the end creates a rhythm that gives the illusion of a rhyme.

Try reading the lines aloud to hear the imperfect rhymes in the poem.

Since then - 'tis Centuries - and yetFeels shorter than the dayI first surmised the Horses' HeadsWere toward Eternity -

End Rhyme

End rhyme is the most common type of rhyme, occurring when words at the end of phrases have similar sounds. This type of rhyme is prominent in T.S. Eliot's poem 'Macavity the Mystery Cat'.

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden

Nursery Rhymes and Their Importance for Children

Rhyming plays a significant role in children's songs and riddles because it helps with memorization. Nursery rhymes have been passed down through generations and often have historical or political origins. For example, the rhyme "A ring of roses" is believed to be about the bubonic plague, also known as the "Black Death," and its symptoms.

The first line, "a ring of roses," describes the circular rash that appeared on victims' skin. The second line, "pocket full of posies," refers to the herbs and flowers people would carry to protect themselves from the plague. "Atishoo!" represents the final symptom of sneezing, and "all fall down" signifies death.

Some nursery rhymes were also satirical, such as "Georgy Porgy," which is thought to be about Prince Regent George IV. The line "when the boys came out to play" could refer to the women's husbands retaliating, and the final line, "Georgy Porgy ran away," alludes to the prince's cowardice.

Different Types of Rhyme Schemes

When writing a poem, there are various patterns of rhyme to choose from. The different types of rhyme schemes include perfect rhyme, imperfect rhyme, and end rhyme. Each has its own unique qualities and adds a different level of musicality and rhythm to a poem.

The Magic of Rhymes in Poetry

In poetry, rhyming is a technique in which words that have a similar sound are used in close proximity to create a rhythmic and melodic effect. These patterns, known as rhyme schemes, can greatly enhance the flow and impact of a poem. They are marked using letters of the alphabet, such as AABB and ABAB, to indicate which lines rhyme with each other.

One common rhyme scheme is ABAB, where the first and third lines rhyme, and the second and fourth lines also rhyme. This is called alternate rhyme and is often used in poems with four-line stanzas, creating a consistent and pleasing rhythm. An example of this can be seen in T.S. Eliot's "The Song of the Jellicles."

The Importance of Rhyming Couplets

Rhyming couplets, also known as two-line stanzas, are a popular form of rhyme used in poetry. These couplets not only add a fun and memorable rhyme to a poem but also create a rhythm that adds to the overall flow. An example of this can be seen in T.S. Eliot's "Macavity," where the lines "For he's the master criminal who can defy the law" and "For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!" form a rhyming couplet.

Typically, rhyming couplets have a similar length and rhythm, adding to their impact. In "Macavity," the lines have a consistent number of syllables and follow a steady rhythm.

The Sonnet - A Classic Poetic Form

A sonnet is a popular poetic form consisting of 14 lines and a specific rhyming scheme. It originated in Italy and made its way to England in the 16th century, where it remains a well-loved form. The Shakespearean sonnet, also known as the English sonnet, is made up of three four-line stanzas followed by a couplet, with the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

Famous poet William Shakespeare used this rhyme scheme in over 150 of his sonnets, including "Sonnet 12," which reflects on the concept of time and urges readers to outsmart death by having children and living on through them.

"When I do count the clock that tells the time, A

Rhyme Schemes and Their Impact on Poetry

Have you ever attempted to write a sonnet? How would you convey the theme of time in your writing? Is time a phenomenon to be feared or embraced?

Rhyme is a powerful poetic device that can enrich the reading experience by adding melody and impact to a poem. It is when two words have similar sounds, and there are three common types of rhyme: perfect rhyme, imperfect rhyme, and end rhyme.

Perfect rhyme occurs when two words have the same vowel sound in their final syllable and share identical final consonants. On the other hand, imperfect rhyme is when the rhyming words do not have identical sounds but only a partial similarity. End rhyme, as the name suggests, happens when the rhyming words occur at the end of consecutive phrases.

Let's take a look at some examples. "When I behold the violet past prime" (line A) and "And sable curls, all silvered o'er with white" (line B) are perfect rhymes. "Lofty trees I see barren of leaves" (line C) and "And summer's green all girded up in sheaves" (line C) are end rhymes. Lastly, "When lofty trees I see barren of leaves" (line C) and "Which only from heat did canopy the stove" (line D) create an imperfect rhyme.

Poetry comes in various forms, such as lyric, narrative, and dramatic, and they all can incorporate rhyme. Some other types of rhyme include feminine rhyme, masculine rhyme, eye rhyme, pararhyme, monorhyme, monosyllabic rhyme, multisyllabic rhyme, and dactylic rhyme.

In conclusion, rhyme is a powerful tool that adds depth and impact to poetic works. Whether perfect, imperfect, or end rhyme, all forms of rhyme can enhance the overall quality of a poem. So why not give it a try and write your own sonnet?

Join Shiken For FREE

Gumbo Study Buddy

Explore More Subject Explanations

Try Shiken Premium
for Free

14-day free trial. Cancel anytime.
Get Started
Join 20,000+ learners worldwide.
The first 14 days are on us
96% of learners report x2 faster learning
Free hands-on onboarding & support
Cancel Anytime