Rhyme is a repetition of similar-sounding words. There are three kinds of rhyme, all equally fun to write. Whatever type of rhyme you choose, be consistent throughout your poem. For example, don’t switch from perfect rhyme to near rhyme. Readers will notice and your poem will suffer for it.
The three types of rhyme:
- Perfect Rhyme is just that, the words at the end of the sentence rhyme perfectly (like chairs and bears).
- Near Rhyme (also called Slant Rhyme) is when you use words with similar sounds (not exact rhymes) to end the lines of your poem (like swarm and worm)
- Internal Rhyme is when a perfect rhyme is used inside a line instead of at the end. As with the bolded words in the first three lines of this stanza from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe:
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door…
Example #1 The first quatrain of Emily Dickinson’s poem Because I Could Not Stop for Death is shown below. She uses the ABCB rhyme scheme (noted in parenthesis: the “b’s” rhyme).
Because I could not stop for Death – (a) He kindly stopped for me – (b) The Carriage held but just Ourselves – (c) And Immortality. (b)
Writing poems that rhyme is challenging and rewarding but a good rhyme needs a good rhythm. Meter is the beat or rhythm of a poem. It’s the pattern of your stressed syllables (the ones you say a little louder when reading) and unstressed syllables (the quieter ones).
A poet uses specific rhythm patterns or rhyming schemes in a poem to give it structure. The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables is called a foot (or feet). In other words, the foot is the basic unit of measurement of accented syllables. A foot usually contains one stressed syllable and at least one unstressed syllable. The standard types of feet in English poetry are:
iamb: unstressed STRESSED (beFOR) trochee: STRESSED unstressed (ALways) dactyl: STRESSED unstressed unstressed (HICK o ry) anapest: unstressed unstressed STRESSED (un der STOOD) spondee: STRESSED STRESSED (RED HEAD) amphibrach: unstressed STRESSED unstressed (re DUN dant) tribrach: unstressed unstressed unstressed ((MIS) er a ble) and pyrrhic: unstressed unstressed ((HOT) on the (TRAIL))
not sure how to count syllables?
Read the poem out loud and clap out each syllable as you say the word. The word "blue" has one syllable (one clap): blue. The word "thunder" has two syllables (two claps): thun-der. The word "poetry" has three syllables (three claps): po-et-ry.
Need to find a rhyme? Check out the amazing website, Rhymezone. It’s like a rhyming dictionary only better.
Example: I wrote this rhyming poem for my dad after he passed away (note, this is also a MASK poem as the person who died is speaking):
SCATTERED ASHES I'm the eagle gliding by, that’s my whisper on the breeze. I'm the stars and the moon, the mountain and the seas. I’m the trees standing guard. I’m the daffodil in spring. I am no longer living yet I live in everything. ©2019 Danna Smith all rights reserved
The capitalized syllables shown below mark where a reader might emphasize the sounds. In this poem, there are two accented beats in each line.
SCATTERED ASHES I'm the EAGle gliding BY, that's my WHISper on the BREEZE. I'm the STARS and the MOON, the MOUNtains and the SEAS. I'm the TREES standing GUARD, the DAFFodil in SPRING. I am NO longer LIVing, yet I LIVE in everyTHING.