Rhyme Scheme

Definition of Rhyme Scheme

Rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhyme that comes at the end of each verse or line in poetry. In other words, it is the structure the end words of a verse or line that a poet needs to create when writing a poem. Several poems are written in free verse style. Some other poems follow non-rhyming structures, paying attention only to number of syllable. The Japanese genre of Haiku is a case in point. Thus, it shows that the poets write poems in a specific type of rhyme scheme or rhyming pattern. There are several types of rhyme schemes as given below.

Types of Rhyme Scheme

There are a number rhyme schemes used in poetry; however, some of the most popular include:

  • Alternate rhyme: It is also known as ABAB rhyme scheme, it rhymes as “ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH.”
  • Ballade: It contains three stanzas with rhyme scheme of “ABABBCBC” followed by “BCBC.”
  • Monorhyme: It is a poem in which every line uses the same rhyme scheme.
  • Couplet: It contains two line stanzas with “AA” rhyme scheme that often appears as “AA BB CC and DD…”
  • Triplet: It often repeats like a couplet, uses rhyme scheme of “AAA.”
  • Enclosed rhyme: It uses rhyme scheme of “ABBA”
  • Terza rima rhyme scheme: It uses tercets, three lines stanzas. Its interlocking pattern on end words follow: Aba bcb cdc ded and so on…
  • Keats Odes rhyme scheme: In his famous odes, Keats has used a specific rhyme scheme, which is “ABABCDECDE.”
  • Limerick: A poem uses five lines with rhyme scheme of “AABBA.”
  • Villanelle: A nineteen-line poem consisting of five tercets and a final quatrain is villanelle and uses rhyme scheme of “A1bA2, abA1, abA2, abA1, abA2, abA1A2.”

Examples of Rhyme Scheme in Literature

Let us take a few examples of most widely used rhyme schemes in literature:

Example #1: Neither Out Far nor in Deep (By  Robert Frost)

The people along the sand (A)
All turn and look one way. (B)
They turn their back on the land. (A)
They look at the sea all day. (B)
As long as it takes to pass (C)
A ship keeps raising its hull; (C)
The wetter ground like glass (D)
Reflects a standing gull. (D)

This is an ABAB pattern of rhyme scheme, in which each stanza applies this format. For instance, in the first stanza, “sand” rhymes with the word “land,” and “way” rhymes with the word “day.”

Example #2: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (By Donald Barthelme)

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, (A)
How I wonder what you are. (A)
Up above the world so high, (B)
Like a diamond in the sky. (B)

The following example uses an AABB rhyme scheme. Here, the first line ends in the word “star,” which rhymes with the final word of the second line, “are.” Since both rhyme with each other, they are signified with letter “A.”

Example #3: Divine Comedy (By Dante Alighieri)

As I drew nearer to the end of all desire, (A)
I brought my longing’s ardor to a final height, (B)
Just as I ought. My vision, becoming pure, (A)
Entered more and more the beam of that high light (B)
That shines on its own truth. From then, my seeing (C)
Became too large for speech, which fails at a sight… (B)

Dante has used terza rima tercet rhyming patterns (ABA, BCB, CDC …) in this poem, giving an impression of irresistible movement, as well as dynamism.

Example #4: A Monorhyme for the Shower (By Dick Davis)

Lifting her arms to soap her hair (A)
Her pretty breasts respond – and there (A)
The movement of that buoyant pair (A)
Is like a spell to make me swear…(A)

Following poem presents a perfect example of monorhyme, in which you can notice every line ends in similar rhyme, “AAAA” like these words, “hair, there, pair, swear…”

Function of Rhyme Scheme

Rhyme scheme is an integral part of the constitution of a poem, which includes meter, length of phrase, and rhythm. In fact, rhyme scheme, like other writing tools, is used to create balance and relieve tension, manage flow, create rhythm, and highlight important ideas. Its basic function is to form units of sound and suggest units of sense. It also communicates the idea in a more effective way.

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2 comments for “Rhyme Scheme

  1. frandina
    January 7, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    The raven has a rhyme scheme of ABCBBB. What is that called?

  2. John
    March 2, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    The rhyme scheme in the first example is incorrect. It should be a,b,a,b,c,d,c,d.
    Also, rhyme scheme is supposed to use lower case letters.

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