Types of Rhyme
The poet who wishes to write a rhyming poem has several different sorts of rhyme from which to choose. Some are strong, some more subtle, and all can be employed as the poet sees fit. The following are some of the main types :
Rhyming of the final words of lines in a poem. The following, for example, is from Seamus Heaney’s “Digging” :
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground
Rhyming of two words within the same line of poetry. The following, for example, is from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” :
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
Slant Rhymes (sometimes called imperfect, partial, near, oblique, off etc.)
Rhyme in which two words share just a vowel sound (assonance – e.g. “heart” and “star”) or in which they share just a consonant sound (consonance – e.g. “milk” and “walk”). Slant rhyme is a technique perhaps more in tune with the uncertainties of the modern age than strong rhyme. The following example is also from Seamus Heaney’s “Digging” :
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun
Rhyme using two different words that happen to sound the same (i.e. homonyms) – for example “raise” and “raze”. The following example – a triple rich rhyme – is from Thomas Hood’s” A First Attempt in Rhyme” :
Partake the fire divine that burns,
In Milton, Pope, and Scottish Burns,
Who sang his native braes and burns.
Rhyme on words that look the same but which are actually pronounced differently – for example “bough” and “rough”. The opening four lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, for example, go :
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Here, “temperate” and “date” look as though they rhyme, but few readers would pronounce “temperate” so that they did. Beware that pronunciations can drift over time and that rhymes can end up as eye rhymes when they were originally full (and vice versa).
Simply using the same word twice. An example is in (some versions of) 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—
It’s clear there is often a certain amount of overlap between rhyme and other poetical devices such as assonance – subjects to be covered in future poetry writing tips.
Subscribe and Get a Free eBook: 100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid
- The subscription is completely free, and we only send out one email per week, on Tuesdays
- Our emails are fun and educating and will help you improve your writing skills
- You can unsubscribe anytime you want and keep the e-book as a gift