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Poetry is often associated with rhyming. Though the medium contains non-rhyming forms, learning to incorporate rhyme into your work is an essential skill for any novice poet to learn. It takes practice and research, but once you understand rhyming schemes and specific types of rhyme, you’ll be able to incorporate exciting rhymes into your poetry and improve the overall quality of your work.



6 Types of Rhymes

Rhyming poetry takes many forms. Some of these include:

  1. Perfect rhyme: A perfect rhyme is one where both words share the exact assonance and number of syllables is known as a perfect rhyme. This type of rhyme is also known as an exact rhyme, a full rhyme, or a true rhyme.
  2. Slant rhyme: A slant rhyme is a rhyme formed by words with similar, but not identical, assonance and/or the number of syllables. Slant rhymes are also known as half-rhymes, imperfect rhymes, or a near rhymes.
  3. Eye rhyme: Two words that look similar on a page, but do not actually rhyme in spoken pronunciation are known as an eye rhyme. Examples include “move” and “love,” or “hour” and “pour.”
  4. Masculine rhyme: A masculine rhyme is a rhyme between only the final stressed syllables of two lines.
  5. Feminine rhyme: This multi-syllable rhyme requires that both stressed and unstressed syllables rhyme with their respective counterparts. For instance, the words “crazy” and “lazy” form feminine rhymes. The syllables “cra” and “la” are stressed rhymes, and “zy” and “zy” are unstressed rhymes.
  6. End rhyme: This is a rhyme that occurs between the final words on two particular lines of poetry. End rhymes can be either masculine (for instance “below” and “furlough”) or feminine (for instance “actual” and “factual”).

7 Tips for Writing in Rhyme

Poetry writing is hard work and learning to use devices like rhyme scheme and iambic tetrameter can sound intimidating to the novice poet. That being said, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to incorporate rhyming into your work once you get going. Here are some tips to improve your poetry writing skills and begin weaving rhymes into your poems:

  1. Use a common rhyme scheme. There are many specific rhyme schemes available for you to play around with. If you’re new to rhyming poetry, it’s helpful to stick to a simple rhyme scheme like ABAB rhyme scheme or ABCB rhyme scheme before experimenting with more complicated forms.
  2. Experiment with other poetry forms. Different poetic forms give you the opportunity to play around with specific types of rhymes and proscribed rhyme schemes. Try your hand at writing a ballade, Shakespearean sonnet, villanelle, limerick or terza rima. There are also plenty of forms like haiku or free verse that do not require rhymes.
  3. Play with different types of rhyme. There are so many different types of rhymes beyond the simple line rhymes we find in most poetry. Play around with techniques like enclosed rhyme, internal rhyme, monorhyme, and alternate rhyme in your poetry.
  4. Play with sound repetition. There are other techniques you might want to incorporate into your work in addition to rhyme to vary the sound and rhythm of your poetry. Playing with vowel sounds and consonant sounds through either assonance or consonance can be a nice complement to the rhymes in your poetry. Alliteration adds texture and rhythm to a poem.
  5. Keep a notebook. Writing poetry requires that you constantly observe and catalog the world around you. Most poets and writers keep a notebook handy to record any ideas that occur to them over the course of their day-to-day lives. As poets, a notebook also comes in handy should any specific lines or rhymes come to mind that you might want to use later.
  6. Move your stanza breaks around. Varying your stanza lengths and line breaks can give you the opportunity to rhyme in places you might not have anticipated. Try alternating between four-line stanzas and two-line stanzas in order to play around with different schemes and places for rhyme.
  7. Use a rhyming dictionary. It may seem like cheating, but there’s no shame in turning to a rhyming dictionary to find rhyming words. You may not have used one of these since working on a high school poetry assignment, but using a rhyming dictionary to come up with rhyming end words is a valid technique to help generate new rhymes for your poetry.
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10 Different Rhyme Schemes

Rhyming poems do not have to follow a particular pattern. Any number of new rhymes can be added to a poem to create ongoing patterns.

Some types of poems are defined by designated rhyme schemes and fixed verses. For example, a Shakespearean sonnet is a 14-line poem that includes three, four-line stanzas and a concluding couplet. The sonnet follows the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. This rhyme scheme and verse structure are unique to a Shakespearean sonnet. Other common rhyme schemes include:

Alternate rhyme. In an alternate rhyme, the first and third lines rhyme at the end, and the second and fourth lines rhyme at the end following the pattern ABAB for each stanza. This rhyme scheme is used for poems with four-line stanzas.

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “A Psalm of Life”

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Ballade. A ballade is a lyric poem that follows the rhyme scheme ABABBCBC. Ballades typically have three, eight-line stanzas and conclude with a four-line stanza. The last line of each stanza is the same, which is called a refrain.

  • Andrew Lang, “Ballade of the Optimist”

And, sometimes on a summer's day
To self and every mortal ill
We give the slip, we steal away,
To walk beside some sedgy rill:
The darkening years, the cares that kill,
A little while are well forgot;
When deep in broom upon the hill,
We'd rather be alive than not.

Coupled rhyme. A coupled rhyme is a two-line stanza that rhymes following the rhyme scheme AA BB CC, or a similar dual rhyming scheme. The rhymes themselves are referred to as rhyming couplets. Shakespeare’s sonnets end with rhyming couplets, such as this one:

  • William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18”

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Monorhyme. In a monorhyme, all the lines in a stanza or entire poem end with the same rhyme.

  • William Blake, “Silent, Silent Night”

Silent Silent Night
Quench the holy light
Of thy torches bright

For possess’d of Day
Thousand spirits stray
That sweet joys betray

Why should joys be sweet
Used with deceit
Nor with sorrows meet

But an honest joy
Does itself destroy
For a harlot coy

Enclosed rhyme. The first and fourth lines and the second and third lines rhyme with each other in an enclosed rhyme scheme. The pattern is ABBA, in which A encloses the B.

  • Sonnet VII By John Milton

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.

Simple four-line rhyme. These poems follow a rhyme scheme of ABCB throughout the entire poem.

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (excerpt)

It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

Triplet. A triplet is a set of three lines in a stanza—called a tercet—that share the same end rhyme.

  • William Shakespeare, “The Phoenix and the Turtle”

Truth may seem, but cannot be
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she
Truth and beauty buried be

Terza rima. An Italian form of poetry that consists of tercets, a terza rima follows a chain rhyme in which the second line of each stanza rhymes with the first and last line of the subsequent stanza. It ends with a couplet rhyming with the middle line of the penultimate stanza. The pattern is ABA BCB CDC DED EE.

  • Percy Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind”

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!

Limerick. A limerick is a five-line poem with the rhyme scheme AABBA.

  • Mother Goose, “Hickory, Dickory, Dock”

Hickory dickory dock.
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
And down he run.
Hickory dickory dock.

Villanelle. A type of poem with five three-line stanzas that follow a rhyme scheme of ABA. The villanelle concludes with a four-line stanza with the pattern ABAA.

  • Edwin Arlington Robinson, “The House on the Hill” (excerpt)

THEY are all gone away,
The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray
The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.

Nor is there one to-day
To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say.

Why is it then we stray
Around that sunken sill?
They are all gone away,

And our poor fancy-play
For them is wasted skill:
There is nothing more to say.

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