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Rhyme, likeness of the terminal sounds of words, frequently used in versification either at the end of a
line of verse or within the line. Rhyme appeared only occasionally in classical Greek and Latin poetry; it
was used more extensively later, in songs of the medieval Roman Catholic church. Rhyme was not
established as a technique in English poetry until the 14th century. Since then not all styles of poetry have
employed rhyme, but it has never fallen entirely into disuse. Rhyme functions as an element of rhythm,
emphasizing poetic beat.

There are three types of true rhymes:

masculine rhymes, in which the final syllable of the word or line is stressed ("spring," "bring");

feminine rhymes, in which two consecutive syllables, the first of which is accented, are alike in sound
("certain," "curtain"); and

triple rhymes, in which all three syllables of a word are identical ("flowery," "showery").

Words in which the vowel and the following consonants in a stressed syllable are identical in sound, even
if spelled differently, are called perfect rhymes ("two" and "too," or "spring" and "bring").

In eye, or sight, rhyme the words look as if they rhyme, but do not: "move," "love."

Slant, or oblique, rhyme uses words with an imperfect match of sounds. Within this category, consonance
relies on the similarity of consonant sounds: "shift," "shaft"; assonance relies on the similarity of vowel
sounds: "grow," "home."

The function of rhyme in poetry is to establish structure while creating a pleasant or even beautiful
symmetry among a poems verses. In the ages before the written word, rhyme also assisted with
memorization, a role it still performs today. Not all poems rhyme, and not all rhymes are poetry; rhyme is
also employed in songwriting and advertising copy, for example. The use of rhyme in poetry, however, is
the most common application of both, learned by most people while they are still children. To many
people, in fact, any rhyme is a poem and vice versa.

Rhyming verse is one of the oldest literary forms, predating the establishment of writing itself. There is
good reason for this: Many primitive cultures used oral, or spoken, narratives to relay important aspects of
their history and culture to younger generations. Rhyme is a powerful mnemonic, or memory aid, so
many of these narratives were put in rhyming-verse form by bards and poets. Rhyme continued to be used
for this function until relatively recent times, as literacy was not widespread until the 19th and 20th
centuries. The more talented poets could use rhyme in poetry as an asset rather than a limitation.

William Shakespeare, for example, was expert at using rhyme in poetry and drama alike. In his plays, he
would often end an act by having a character speak a rhyming couplet, such as The plays the
thing\Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King. In Shakespeares time, poets often used complex
rhyme schemes. For example, the sonnet, a poetic form often employed by Shakespeare, employs several

quatrains, in which four lines share two rhymes, followed by a single set of rhyming lines. Other poetic
forms in use at the time, such as the sestina, employ even more complicated rhyme schemes.

Another important function of rhyme in poetry is to create symmetry, a repeated pattern that often
conveys a sense of harmony and beauty to an audience. This can be achieved even if the rhyme is
imperfect and the words sound similar but not exactly alike, such as back and fact. This is such an
important aspect of poetry that translators of poems in foreign languages will sometimes take pains to
ensure their translations rhyme as well as the original. This is often done with Dantes Divine Comedy, for
example, and Chaucers Canterbury Tales, written in an early form of English that bears little
resemblance to the modern language.

The symmetrical and memory-aiding functions of rhyme in poetry mean that they are often used in other
contexts. Verses called nursery rhymes, sometimes containing archaic or nonsensical words and images,
are taught to young children to introduce important concepts and because the rhymes are easy for children
to remember. Popular songs employ rhyme for the same reasons poems do. Inexpert writers often force
their poems to rhyme, even if the verse suffers as a result. Modern poets sometimes dispense with rhyme
entirely, preferring non-rhyming formats known as blank verse or free verse.


! perfect rhyme, full rhyme, true rhyme: These terms refer to the immediately recognizable norm:
true/blue, mountain/fountain.

! imperfect rhyme, slant rhyme, half rhyme, approximate rhyme, near rhyme, off rhyme, oblique
rhyme: These are all general terms referring to rhymes that are close but not exact: lap/shape,

! eye rhyme: This refers to rhymes based on similarity of spelling rather than sound. Often these are
highly conventional, and reflect historical changes in pronunciation: love/move/prove, why/envy.

! identical rhyme: A word rhymes with itself, as in Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could not Stop
for Death":

We paused before a house that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground--
The Roof was scarcely visible--
The Cornice--in the Ground.

! rich rhyme (from French rime riche): A word rhymes with its homonym: blue/blew,

! assonant rhyme: Rhyming with similar vowels, different consonants: dip/limp, man/prank.

! consonant rhyme: Rhyming with similar consonants, different vowels: limp/lump, bit/bet.

! scarce rhyme: Rhyming on words with limited rhyming alternatives: whisp/lisp,


! macaronic rhyme: Macaronic verse uses more than one language, as in medieval lyrics with Latin
refrains. Macaronic rhyme is also bilingual: glory/pro patria mori, sure/kreatur, queasy/civilis.


! one-syllable rhyme, masculine rhyme: The norm, in which rhyme occurs on the final stressed

One, two,
Buckle my shoe

! extra-syllable rhyme, triple rhyme, multiple rhyme, extended rhyme, feminine rhyme: These all
refer to rhyming double or triple or multiple extra-syllable endings: dying/flying,
generate/venerate, salubrious/lugubrious.

! light rhyme: Rhyming of a stressed syllable with a secondary stress: frog/dialog, live/prohibitive.

! wrenched rhyme: Rhyming of a stressed syllable with an unstressed syllable. This often occurs in
ballads and folk poetry, often on conventional words like lady/a bee.


By Position in the Line

! end rhyme, terminal rhyme: All rhymes occur at line ends--the standard procedure.

! initial rhyme, head rhyme: Alliteration or other rhymes at the beginning of a line.

! internal rhyme: Rhyme that occurs within a line or passage, whether randomly (as below, on
"flow" and "grow") or in some kind of pattern:

A heavenly paradise is that place,

Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow.
These cherries grow, which none may buy
Till "Cherry Ripe!" themselves do cry.

! leonine rhyme, medial rhyme: Rhyme that occurs at the caesura and line end within a single line--
like a rhymed couplet printed as a single line:

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers

! caesural rhyme, interlaced rhyme: Rhymes that occur at the caesura and line end within a pair of
lines--like an abab quatrain printed as two lines:

Sweet is the treading of wine, and sweet the feet of the dove;
But a goodlier gift is thine than foam of the grapes or love.
Yea, is not even Apollo, with hair and harp-string of gold,
A bitter God to follow, a beautiful God to behold?

Or the following unusual example, an In Memoriam stanza (abba) printed as couplets:

Upon the mat she lies and leers and on the tawny throat of her
Flutters the soft and silky fur or ripples to her pointed ears.

Come forth, my lovely seneschal! so somnolent, so statuesque!

Come forth you exquisite grotesque! half woman and half animal!

By Position in the Stanza or Verse Paragraph

! crossed rhyme, alternating rhyme, interlocking rhyme: Rhyming in an abab pattern.

! intermittent rhyme: Rhyming every other line, as in the standard ballad quatrain: xaxa.

! envelope rhyme, inserted rhyme: Rhyming abba (as in the In Memoriam stanza).

! irregular rhyme: Rhyming that follows no fixed pattern (as in the pseudopindaric or irregular

! sporadic rhyme, occasional rhyme: Rhyming that occurs unpredictably in a poem with mostly
unrhymed lines.

! thorn line: A line left without rhyme in a generally rhymed passage. (There are ten thorn lines
among the 193 lines in Milton's irregularly rhymed Lycidas.)


! broken rhyme: Rhyme using more than one word:

But-oh! ye lords of ladies intellectual,

Inform us truly, have they not hen-peck'd you all?

Or rhyme in which one word is broken over the line end:

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
Dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing

! linked rhyme: Rhyme that depends on completing the rhyme sound by enjambment over the line

But what black Boreas wrecked her? He

Came equipped, deadly-electric,

! apocopated rhyme: Rhyming a line end with a penultimate syllable:

A poem should be wordless

As the flight of birds.



rhythm: the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line.

meter: the number of feet in a line.
scansion: Describing the rhythms of poetry by dividing the lines into feet, marking the locations of
stressed and unstressed syllables, and counting the syllables.

Thus, when we describe the rhythm of a poem, we scan the poem and mark the stresses (/) and absences
of stress (!) and count the number of feet.

In English, the major feet are:

iamb (!/)
! /! / ! /! / !/! / ! /
The falling out of faithful friends, renewing is of love

trochee (/!)
/! /! / ! /!
Double, double toil and trouble

anapest (!!/)
! ! /! ! / ! !/
I am monarch of all I survey

dactyl (/!!)
/ ! ! / !!
Take her up tenderly

spondee (//)
pyrrhic (!!)

Iambic and anapestic meters are called rising meters because their movement rises from unstressed
syllable to stressed; trochaic and dactylic meters are called falling. In the twentieth century, the bouncing
meters--anapestic and dactylic--have been used more often for comic verse than for serious poetry.

Spondee and pyrrhic are called feet, even though they contain only one kind of stressed syllable. They
are never used as the sole meter of a poem; if they were, it would be like the steady impact of nails being
hammered into a board--no pleasure to hear or dance to. But inserted now and then, they can lend
emphasis and variety to a meter, as Yeats well knew when he broke up the predominantly iambic rhythm
of Who Goes With Fergus? with the line,

! ! / / ! ! / /
And the white breast of the dim sea,

A frequently heard metrical description is iambic pentameter: a line of five iambs. This is a meter
especially familiar because it occurs in all blank verse (such as Shakespeares plays), heroic couplets, and

Pentameter is one name for the number of feet in a line. The commonly used names for line lengths are:

monometer one foot pentameter five feet

dimeter two feet hexameter six feet
trimeter three feet heptameter seven feet
tetrameter four feet octameter eight feet

The scansion of this quatrain from Shakespeares Sonnet 73 shows the following accents and divisions
into feet (note the following words were split: behold, yellow, upon, against, ruin'd):

! / ! / ! / ! / ! /
That time | of year | thou mayst | in me | be hold |
! / ! / ! / ! / ! /
When yel | low leaves, | or none, | or few, | do hang |
! / ! / ! / ! / ! /
Up on | those boughs | which shake | a gainst | the cold, |
! / ! / ! / ! / ! /
Bare ru | in'd choirs | where late | the sweet birds sang |

From this, we see the rhythm of this quatrain is made up of one unaccented syllable followed by an
accented syllable, called an iambic foot. We also see there are five feet per line, making the meter of the
line pentameter. So, the rhythm and meter are iambic pentameter.

Rhythm gives pleasure and a more emotional response to the listener or reader because it establishes a
pattern of expectations, and rewards the listener or reader with the pleasure that comes from having those
expectations fulfilled, or the noted change in a rhythm.

Most poems do not employ the same rhythm throughout. Robert Frost told an audience one time that if
when writing a poem he found its rhythm becoming monotonous, he knew that the poem was going
wrong and that he himself didnt believe what it was saying.


A line break in poetry is when the line of a poem ceases to extend, and a new line starts; within the
standard conventions of Western literature, this is usually but not always at the left margin. As such, the
line break relates closely to an enjambment; however, whereas in an enjambment a clause or phrase
continues over a break, a line break may serve to emphasize a pause or a silence, to signal a change of
movement or to suppress or highlight certain internal features of the poem, such as a rhyme or slant


Enjambment or enjambement is the breaking of a syntactic unit (a phrase, clause, or sentence) by the
end of a line or between two verses. It is to be contrasted with end-stopping, where each linguistic unit
corresponds with a single line, and caesura, in which the linguistic unit ends mid-line. The term is directly
borrowed from the French enjambement, meaning "straddling" or "bestriding". Enjambment is sometimes
referred to as a "run-on line".


a break or pause in a line of verse. It usually comes near the middle of the line, is required by the sense of
the line, and is often indicated by a comma, a semicolon, or some other punctuation mark. A caesura
which follows a stressed syllable is said to be a masculine caesura, and a caesura which follows an
unstressed syllable is said to be a feminine caesura. In scansion a caesura is conventionally marked by a
double pipe, thus ||.

Examples of caesurae

the final stanza of The Character of a Happy Life by Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639).

There is a masculine caesura in the third line and a feminine caesura in the fourth line. Arguably, there
could also be a caesura in the second line after 'rise'.

This man is freed from servile bonds

Of hope to rise or fear to fall:
Lord of himself, || though not of lands,
And having nothing, || yet hath all.

Two more examples from Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady by Alexander Pope (1688-1744) -
they are in the second and fourth lines of the quotation.

Thus unlamented pass the proud away,

The gaze of fools, || and pageant of a day!
So perish all who never learn'd to glow
For others' good, || or melt at others' woe!


The term stanza means stopping place in Italian. A stanza is a set of lines in a poem, set apart from
other sets of lines by space. Each stanza comprises its own unit. The break/space between stanzas
generally indicates a pause between thoughts, concepts or actions. In standard practice, most poems end a
sentence at the end of stanza. However, that there is no definitive rule that says this must happen. Of all
writing forms, poetry is the most experimental. Rules of form get broken all the time.

Many poems are written without stanza breaks. These poems simply continue for however many lines the
poem lasts. It is possible to call these poems single-stanza poems, but in practice few people worry about
any rules or guidelines for stanzas in these cases.

Most poetry forms have rules regarding the length of stanzas. For example, a sestina has seven stanzas.
The first six are six lines long and the last is three lines long. A sestina has many other rules involving
repetition and order of words, but stanzas are the primary concern here.
Stanzas provide structure and format within a poem. In many ways they are the equivalent of a paragraph
in a prose work. The use of stanzas can make a poem more visually appealing, and give the poem a means
of division. Even poems without rhyme or meter will gain structure from the use of stanzas.

Stanzas can take many forms, most of which are unnamed. A few standard stanzas have stood the test of
time. A couplet is a two-line stanza; if the two lines rhyme it is called a rhyming couplet. A tercet or
triplet is a three-line stanza. A quatrain is a four-line stanza. Sometimes a stanza is called a verse or a
stroph. The meaning is essentially the same, but stanza is the far more popular term.


Alexandrine Poetry

Alexandrine Poetry Type is a line of poetry that has 12 syllables and derives from a medieval romance
about Alexander the Great that was written in 12-syllable lines. An alexandrine is used to describe a line
of poetic meter.

The Prisoner by Emily Bront (1818-1848).

Still let my tyrants know, I am not doom'd to wear

Year after year in gloom and desolate despair;
A messenger of Hope comes every night to me,
And offers for short life, eternal liberty.


The basic form for ballads is iambic heptameter.

I'll tell a tale, a thrilling tale of love beyond compare

I knew a lad not long ago more gorgeous than any I've seen.
And in his eyes I found my self a'falling in love with the swain.
Oh, the glorious fellow I met by the ocean with eyes of deep-sea green!

He was a rugged sailor man with eyes of deep-sea green,

And I a maid, a tavern maid! Whose living was serving beer.
So with a kiss and with a wave, off on his boat he sailed
And left me on the dock, the theif! Without my heart, oh dear!

And with a heart that's lost at sea, I go on living still.

I still am now still serving beer in that tavern by the sea.
And though the pay check's still the same, the money won't go as far
For now I feed not just myself, but my little one and me!

So let that be a lesson, dear, and keep your heart safely hid.
I gave mine to a sailing thief with gorgeous eyes of green.
Save yours for a sweeter lad who makes the land his home.
Ah me! If only I'd never met that sailor by the sea!
-- Lonnie Adrift


Lyric Poetry consists of a poem, such as a sonnet or an ode, that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the
poet. The term lyric is now commonly referred to as the words to a song. Lyric poetry does not tell a story
which portrays characters and actions. The lyric poet addresses the reader directly, portraying his or her
own feeling, state of mind, and perceptions.

(aka I heard a fly buzz when I died )
Emily Dickinson

I heard a fly buzz when I died;

The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.

Prose poem

Toad, hog, assassin, mirror

Prose Poem
Larry Levis

Toad, hog, assassin, mirror. Some of its favorite words, which are breath. Or
handwriting: the long tail of the y disappearing into a barn like a rodents, and
suddenly it is winter after all. After all what? After the ponds dry up in mid-August
and the children drop pins down each canyon and listen for an echo.

Terza rima

A type of poetry consisting of 10 or 11 syllable lines arranged in three-line

"tercets". The Italian poet Dante is credited with inventing terza rima and it has been used by many
English poets including Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Auden.

Ode to the West Wind

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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

Rhyme Royal

A type of poetry introduced by Geoffrey Chaucer consisting of stanzas of seven lines in Iambic

They Flee from Me That Sometime Did Me Seek

Sir Thomas Wyatt

They flee from me that sometime did me seek

With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild, and do not remember

English (or Shakespearean) sonnets are lyric poems that are 14 lines long falling into three coordinate
quatrains and a concluding couplet. Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnets are divided into two quatrains and a
six-line sestet.

Thou my lovely boy

William Shakespeare

O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power

Dost hold Time's fickle glass his fickle hour;
Who hast by waning grown, and therein show'st
Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self grow'st.


Nature and love were a major themes of Romanticism favoured by 18th and 19th century poets such as
Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. Emphasis in such poetry is placed on the personal
experiences of the individual.

The Question
Percy Bysshe Shelley

I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,

Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring,
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
Mixed with a sound of waters murmuring


Narrative Poetry is found in different types of poetry such as Ballads, Epics, and Lays. All of these
examples are different kinds of narrative poems some of which are the length of a book such as the Song
of Hiawatha or the Iliad.

John Barleycorn
Robert Burns

There was three kings into the east,

Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.


Long, serious poems that tells the story of a heroic figure. Some of the most famous epic poems are the
Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer and the epic poem
of The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ( 1807 - 1882 ) .

Hiawatha's Departure
from The Song of Hiawatha
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

By the shore of Gitchie Gumee,

By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.

A sad and thoughtful poem lamenting the death of a person.

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Thomas Gray

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.


A very short, satirical and witty poem usually written as a brief couplet or quatrain. The term epigram is
derived from the Greek word 'epigramma' meaning inscription. The epigram was cultivated in the late
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by poets like Ben Jonson and John Donne who wrote twenty-one
English epigrams.

A Lame Begger by
John Donne

I am unable, yonder beggar cries,

To stand, or move; if he say true, he lies.

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