Before we begin looking at rhyming poetry, let’s start by finding out what rhyme is!

A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds (often, these sounds are the same) in the final syllable of two or more words. This type of language is usually used for artistic effect as part of the last words in rhyming poetry or song lyrics.

Many poets and songwriters choose to make use of rhyme schemes. These can create a sense of structure. In addition, traditional rhyme schemes, such as the one in an ABAB poem, make it easier to memorize and recite poetry.

Common Places to Find Rhymes

Now that we know a bit more about rhyme let’s look at where rhyme is commonly used.

Rhyme is a common feature in songwriting, as well as in rhyming poetry. Poets have used rhyming couplets and other rhyme schemes to structure their poems for centuries. Songwriters also used this same tradition to develop emotional connections in the listener, create transitions between different song lyrics, and link words together.

Children often find it constructive to use songs to learn about rhyming structures and schemes. This is because children are introduced to themes and rhythm very early in their education, and this can be used to help them understand the rhythm of poetry as they look at more complex poetic structures.

What is internal rhyme?

Now that we know a bit about rhyme, let’s look at how it’s used within rhyming poetry or other forms of literature. To start with, let’s look at internal rhyme!

Internal rhyme occurs within a single line of a poem or the inner content of a poem across multiple lines. This is different from end rhyme, which only features rhyming words at the end of each line. Have a look at some examples down below to help explain what we mean by internal rhyme:

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe – “For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams.”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – “The ship was cheered, the harbor cleared.”

Internal rhyme is used for similar reasons to that of end rhyme. Its purpose is to increase the rhyme of writing when read aloud and make a poem more memorable and easy to follow. Internal rhyme is commonly used when writing music, as it is a great way to make a song easy to remember and catchy when heard.

What is an end rhyme?

End rhyme in poetry is the most commonly used type of rhyme in writing. End rhyme is the rhyming of the last word of a line or the last syllables of the previous word. At least two lines of a poem rhyme at the end of the sentence for it to be defined as an end rhyme.

Some examples of famous poems with end rhymes include:

  • The Tyger by William Blake –

“Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night.”

  • I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth –

“Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

  • The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe –

“Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.”

End rhyme is used in poetry as a way to create rhythm in the poem when read aloud. As poetry is intended to be performed and spoken aloud, rhyming the end words creates a musical effect and helps the words flow and become more impactful in their delivery. End rhyme is also used in children’s poetry, as it simplifies the poems and makes them easier to remember and follow through with word association.

What are Rhyming Schemes?

A rhyme scheme is a format or method by which a poet, writer, or musician decides which lines or lyrics will rhyme. Different lines, verses, stanzas, or words will rhyme depending on your chosen rhyme scheme. Writers choose which format they want to write in carefully because each design will create a different structure for the poem or song.

Below, we’ve included some of the most common schemes you’re likely to find in rhyming poetry and songs. Let’s go ahead and learn more about them!

ABAB Rhyme Scheme

The ABAB rhyme scheme is widely used in rhyming poetry. In this popular rhyme scheme, the poet decides that each stanza will have an alternate rhyme (when each verse skips a line).

In an alternate rhyme, also known as an ABAB poem, the first and third lines and the second and fourth would rhyme. This rhyme scheme is seen in most of William Shakespeare’s sonnets and four-line stanza poems. Check out this example of an ABAB poem in action:

Sometimes I dream that I can fly.
I lift and flap my arms just so,
And soon, I’m soaring to the sky.
Graceful like a bird, I go.

Skipping through the cool grass
with eyes shining bright,
heart beating fast,
Awaiting a magical night.

The English sonnet, which features an ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme, is also a Shakespearean sonnet.

AABB Rhyme Scheme

Each stanza (another word for verse) will have two rhyming couplets in this rhyme scheme. The first line will rhyme with the second, and the third line will rhyme with the fourth. This line is often referred to as a coupled rhyme. Here’s an example of how this rhyme scheme looks in rhyming poetry:

I saw a little hermit crab
His coloring was oh-so drab

It’s hard to see the butterfly
Because he flies across the sky

The Function of a Rhyme Scheme

So, we know the answer to the question, ‘What is a rhyme scheme?’, but that doesn’t tell us its purpose in rhyming poetry. The rhyme scheme of a poem is a super important part of its structure that can be used to add to or manipulate the meaning of the writing.

The rhyme scheme shapes the poem’s tone in conjunction with the meter, phrasing, rhythm, word choice, and more. Rhyme works most closely with rhythm. Certain rhyme schemes can change the rhythm of the writing and, in doing so, create a sense of tension, calm and other effects. Rhyme can also highlight specific words or phrases in the poem.

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