If we are to write rhyming poetry that transcends childhood nursery rhymes, we must understand the importance of alliteration, assonance, and consonance and what they can bring to our work. These elements of rhyme become useful tools when used effectively.
Rhyme does not have to be an ABAB rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhyming words in a poem. A typical rhyme scheme may look like this:
I went to the store
To buy some milk
But I found something more
A scarf of silk.
In the example above, store/more and milk/silk are examples of perfect rhyme (when the words sound the same because of the last syllable). Many poets find it difficult to handle perfect rhyme, since they run the risk of writing poems that sound forced or even clichéd. Mastering the different types of rhyme beyond ABAB improves poetry techniques and also creates a more sophisticated style of poem.
Understanding how to use rhyme effectively may give you the confidence you need to submit your rhyming poems to poetry editors (who may just be waiting for someone like you to get “rhyme” right). But in order to do that, you’ll need to see how good rhyming verse offers much more than words that merely “sound the same.”
While perfect rhyme is often found at the end of a line, there are a number of ways good rhyming poetry makes use of other kinds of rhyme. Internal rhyme (or middle rhyme) is rhyme that occurs in a single line of verse. Internal rhyme is a more subtle way of creating rhyming poetry. Edgar Allan Poe provided an excellent example of internal rhyme in “The Raven.” Take a look:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more.”
Here are a few types of rhyme that go beyond that singsong meter of childhood nursery rhymes.
Alliteration is when the same initial consonant sound repeats in close succession. You can see an example in the Poe verse above: “While I nodded, nearly napping…” Alliteration brings a more subtle form of music to an otherwise flat line.
Assonance is when the vowels in a given line rhyme. For example, “weak and weary” offers both alliteration and assonance.
Consonance is when one or two consonants in the words of a given phrase repeat in close succession, although the words themselves may not technically rhyme in the traditional “hat, sat, cat” sense. The rhyme is created within the internal structure of the words, based on the consonants. Examples: clip, clop.
Half rhyme is when the final consonants repeat: bowl, trawl.
Pararhyme can have much in common with the forms above. Pararhyme is when the consonants match, but the vowels are different. The consonance examples are also pararhyme (drip, drop). Sometimes, pararhyme may be called partial rhyme or imperfect rhyme.
Reverse rhyme is the opposite of what we think of as typical rhyme. Instead of the like sounds coming at the end of the words (fighter, lighter), the like sounds arrive at the beginning (gorge, gourd).
At Writer’s Relief we have worked with poets who specialize in rhyme, but the poetry must be exceptional. Learn how you can submit your poems for publication through Writer’s Relief.
QUESTION: Which of the above techniques have you found to work best in your rhyming poetry?