Definition of Rhyme
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounding words occurring at the end of lines in poems or songs.
A rhyme is a tool utilizing repeating patterns of that brings rhythm or musicality in poems which differentiate them from prose which is plain. A rhyme is employed for a specific purpose rendering pleasing effect to a poem which makes its recital an enjoyable experience. Moreover, it offers itself as mnemonic device smoothing the progress of memorization. For instance, all nursery rhymes contain rhyming words in order to facilitate learning for children as they enjoy reading them and the presence of repetitive patterns enables them to memorize that particular poem effortlessly. We do not seem to forget the nursery rhymes we had learnt as a kid. Below are a few samples of nursery rhymes with rhyming words in bold and italics:
Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!
One for the master, one for the dame,
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses, And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!
Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about till Mary did appear.
In poems written in English employ the following kinds of rhyme:
A perfect rhyme is a case in which two words rhyme in such a way that their final stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical e.g. sight and light, right and might, rose and dose etc.
The term general rhyme refers to variety of phonetic likeness between words.
- Bottle and fiddle, cleaver and silver, patter and pitter etc. are examples of syllabic rhyme i.e. words having similar sounding last syllable but without a stressed vowel
- Wing and caring, sit and perfect, reflect and subject etc, are examples of imperfect rhyme i.e. a rhyme between a stressed and an unstressed syllable.
- Assonance or Slant Rhyme exists in words having the same vowel sound e.g. kill and bill, wall and hall, shake and hate etc.
- Consonance exist words having the same consonant sound e.g. rabbit and robber, ship and sheep
- Alliteration or Head Rhyme refers to matching initial consonant sounds e.g. sea and seal, ship and short etc.
Eye Rhymes, also called sight or spelling rhymes, refer to words having the same spelling but different sounds. In such case, the final syllables have the same spellings but are pronounce differently e.g. cough and bough, love and move etc.
Types of Rhyme According to Position
Classification of rhymes may occur according to their positions:
1. Tail Rhyme is the most common type of rhyme that occurs in the final syllable of a verse or line.
“Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are”
2. Internal Rhyme is a type of rhyme in which a word at the end of a verse rhymes with another word in the same line.
“Just turn me loose let me straddle my old saddle,
Underneath the western skies,
On my cayuse let me wander over yonder,
‘Til I see the mountains rise.”
3. Holo-rhyme is a type of rhyme in which the all words of two entire lines rhyme.
“In Ayrshire hill areas, a cruise, eh, lass?”
“Inertia, hilarious, accrues, hélas!”
4. Cross rhyme refers to matching sounds at the end of intervening lines.
“Had I but lived a hundred years ago
I might have gone, as I have gone this year,
By Warmwell Cross on to a Cove I know,
And Time have placed his finger on me there”
Function of Rhyme
As discussed above, a rhyme serves two distinct functions in the art of writing poetry:
- It gives poetry a typical symmetry that differentiates poetry from prose.
- It makes recital of poetry a pleasurable experience for the readers as the repetitive pattern renders musicality and rhythm to it
W.H Auden gives his views on the function of rhyme and other tools of prosody saying that these are like servants that a master is to use them in ways he wants.