Eye Rhyme

Eye Rhyme Definition

Eye rhyme is a poetic device in which two words are spelled similarly but pronounced differently. It also called a visual rhyme or a sight rhyme. For example, the pair “rough and bough look similar and should rhyme keeping in mind the visual aspect, but when they are spoken, they are not similar.  So, the eye rhyme is a visual phenomenon on the page, and they are appealing to the sense of sight and not to the sense of hearing. Eye Rhyme plays a significant role in enhancing the poem’s musical quality.

Examples of Eye Rhyme from Literature

 Example #1

Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

 “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.”

The writer is comparing his beloved with lovely summer days. To him, summer is the season of disappointments. This extract highlights the use of eye rhyme in the second line as the last word of the starting line links directly to the ending word of line four. By using Eye Rhyme, the writer has created a rhythm using “date” and “temperate” which give soothing effects to the poem.

Example #2

 Tis The Last Rose of Summer by Thomas Moore

“…Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
…Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
…No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
…Or give sigh for sigh!”

This poem is about summer that is fading away with a single rose blooming, while other roses are gone. The poet talks about the departure of summer in a very sad tone. However, the final words of the second and fourth contain Eye Rhymes. The words, “alone”, “gone” do not rhyme and are spelled almost the same except the first letters.

Example #3

Sonnet 19 by William Shakespeare

 “Devouring time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood.”

The poem talks about the time and its normal effects on nature. In this extract, the writer talks about the destructive nature of time that allows it to perform destructive acts. However, the ending words of this extract fall in the category of Eye Rhyme. The words such as, “blood” and “brood” are not similar in pronunciation but they look identical to the eyes. Thus, their usage allows the writers to create a flow in the poem that makes it more vibrant and musical.

Example #4

The Tyger by William Blake

“Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

The poet describes the fearsome features of the tiger and wonders why a beautiful creature can also be a deadly creature. The words ‘eye’ and ‘symmetry’ are eye rhymes as they look similar to the sight but are pronounced differently.

Example #5

Ode to the West Wind By Percy Bysshe Shelley

Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

This lyric poem is a beautiful description of the wind, and it’s effect on the earth, atmosphere, and ocean. The final stanza of the poem is an example of Eye Rhyme, as ‘Wind’ and ‘behind’ look same but are pronounced differently.

Eye Rhyme Meaning and Function

Eye rhyme is a treat for the audience. It provides them an opportunity to enjoy their reading by seeing it. The presence of repetitive patterns enables them to memorize the text at a fast pace. It also gives writers a chance to fill their texts with pleasant words that look good to the eyes. It acts as a mnemonic device which not only provides musical quality for the text but also soothes the process of memorization. However, in literature, it is a convenient device that provides poets a tool to insert delightful words in the texts and make their expressions enjoyable in reading and seeing.