What Does End-Rhyme Mean in Literature?

by Nadia Archuleta, Demand Media Google

Rhyming and poetry often go hand in hand, though neither is dependent on the other. In fact, not all poems rhyme. When they do, though, the rhyme traditionally comes at the end of the line: this is end rhyme. Literature features different degrees of rhyme, patterns of rhyme and even entire poems constructed around set rhyming patterns.

Rhyme

Why do "although" and "outgrow" rhyme, but "remote" and "boy" do not? As the Poetry Foundation defines it, rhyme consists of shared sounds following a word's last stressed syllable. Essentially, the final syllable of a word must sound the same as another in order to be considered a rhyme. When the last syllable is accented, as in the example, this is called a masculine rhyme, which is the most common rhyme in English. Sometimes the words rhyme within unstressed syllables, such as "painted" and "acquainted." These are called feminine rhymes.

Types of Rhyme

According to the similarity between the sounds, rhymes get classified by degree. "Although" and "outgrow" count as true rhymes. "Remote" and "boy," on the other hand, are examples of assonance because they share the same middle vowel sound but not the same ending. "Moon" and "on" are slant rhymes as the vowel sound is not the same although the final consonants are the same letters. A similar concept is alliteration: Words such as "hot" and "hand" share the same initial sound. Words like "tough" and "though" are called eye rhyme or sight rhyme because they look the same but sound different.

Rhyming

An end rhyme means the rhyming comes at the end of a line. When end rhymes follow a pattern, this is called rhyme scheme. In mapping out a poem's rhyme scheme, a reader can identify each rhyme by placing a letter of the alphabet to the right of the line. Lines ending with the same sound should get the same letter. However, rhymes do not always occur at the end of a line. Internal rhyme occurs when the final syllables of two words in the same line rhyme as in "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe: "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary." In this example, "dreary" and "weary" rhyme, and they can be found on the same line of the poem.

Rhyme Schemes

A monorhyme, such as found in William Blake's "Silent, Silent Night," uses only one end-rhyme within each stanza, so the rhyme scheme might be written out by stanza as AAA BBB. Certain poems, such as sonnets, are characterized by a rhyme scheme unique to the type of poem. For example, a Shakespearean sonnet (also called an English sonnet) features the following rhyme scheme: ABABCDCDEFEFGG. Shakespeare's "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" follows this pattern. A Petrarchan sonnet has the same number of lines as a Shakespearean sonnet, but its rhyme scheme is slightly different: ABBAABBACDCDCD. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee?" follows this pattern.

Other Rhyme Schemes

Other types of poetry with defined rhyme scheme include limericks, a type of light verse, which are also largely defined by their rhyme scheme across five lines: AABBA. A villanelle is also a highly structured form of poetry, featuring only two rhymes that are repeated throughout the poem. Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" is an example of the villanelle form.

About the Author

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.

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