Exact Rhyme

Exact Rhyme Definition

Exact rhyme is a poetic device used to repeat the same stressed vowel sounds as well as consonant sounds that follow the vowel. It is used in poems and texts to create musical and pointed effects. Hence, the writers intentionally stress some syllables to emphasize some sounds that appeal to the readers. In this way, a powerful rhythm is created and makes the text enjoyable giving it a unique flow.

Examples of Exact Rhyme from Literature

Example #1

Song of the Witches From Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,

Macbeth is one of the most popular compositions in English literature. The song is sung by three witches who are casting a spell on Macbeth. The whole text revolves around their foul play and prophecies. However, Shakespeare has used exact rhyme in the poem to make it appealing to the readers. In the words such as, “Trouble/bubble” and “snake/ bake,” one can quickly identify the stressed consonant and vowels sounds at the end of each verse such as the use of /d/ and /b/ sounds in the very first line and again /b/ sound in the second line.

Example #2

Little Bo-Peep by Mother Goose

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can’t tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they’ll come home,
Bringing their tails behind them.

Little Bo-Peep fell fast asleep,
And dreamt she heard them bleating;
But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
For they were still all fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook,
Determined for to find them;
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they’d left their tails behind them.

Little Bo-Peep, a famous nursery rhyme, comprises the agony and guilt of a young girl who loses her flock of sheep and never meets them again. She finds the tails of her sheep hanging from a tree. This heart-wrenching incident snatches all her joys and leaves her mourning for her beloved flock. There are many examples of exact rhyme in this poem such as ‘Bleating/fleeting’, ‘should/could’ and ‘peep/sleep’. It is due to the exact rhyme the poet has given a soft and a lyrical touch to the poem. The use of /b/ and /t/ sounds in the first and then last lines also show the use of consonant sounds to create musical quality.

Example #3

How Do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.  

The poem deals with the subject of love and affection. The poet counts how she expresses her love for her beloved. She describes the depth of her love and explains how her love will eventually get better and stronger with time. Also, she believes that the power of love will not vanish but will grow deeper after their death. Elizabeth has used exact rhyme in this poem to give her poetry a more conventional format. For example, “height/right”, “light/right” and “ways/days” where the use of vowel sounds is very much prominent and add musical quality to all the lines.

Example #4

Hush little baby, don’t say a word by Mother Goose

Hush little baby, don’t say a word,
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring turns to brass,
Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass.

And if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat.

And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.

This famous poem is also a lullaby. It deals with love and attachment of the parents with their children. It is written from the perspective of a mother who tries to console her child and promises that his/her daddy will buy a lot of presents.  However, the use of exact rhyme in the text makes it appealing and enjoyable. Also, it allows easy memorization and creates a soothing and musical sound effect when reading out loud.

Functions of Exact Rhyme

Exact rhyme works as a tool that allows the writers to connect certain words in the poem. Its appropriate use gives uniqueness to the text. This conventional style of poetry is widely exercised in children’s literature to make learning fun for them. It also acts as a mnemonic device that can quicken up the memorization process. Additionally, the repetition of the identical sounds strengthens the importance of the ideas presented.