Internal Rhyme: Definition

When you think of rhymes, you likely first think about ‘end rhymes,’ or rhymes that happen at the end of a line or sentence. But did you know there are other types of rhyme too? Two of the most notable are half rhymes and internal rhymes. We will be looking at internal rhyme today.

An internal rhyme definition would be a rhyme created within a singular line of poetry. It can also be found in songs and plays too. Here are some examples of sentences with examples of internal rhymes examples:

  • It would be easy to spend hours wandering across this field of flowers!
  • I can’t think of a word to describe this bird!
  • What on Earth is going on in Perth?
  • I will share my roast potatoes, and maybe I will share the gravy.

Internal rhyme is a useful literary device that children will need to learn about when exploring literary analysis in their Language and Literacy lessons. In addition, recognizing and commenting on the effect of devices like internal rhyme will be useful as young learners progress through their educational journey.

Did you know? Internal rhyme is sometimes called ‘middle rhyme’!

Internal Rhymes: Examples of Internal Rhyme

One of the most famous examples of internal rhymes examples can be found in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

“Double, double toil and trouble,

Fire burn and cauldron bubble,

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron, boil and bake;

Eye of a newt and the toe of a frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burns and cauldron bubbles.

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.”

The internal rhyme and end rhyme combined make these lines feel rhythmic, like the witches are chanting or in a trance. It adds to the creepy atmosphere. The repetition of this internal rhyme adds to this too. Combined with the alliteration of ‘fillet of a fenny snake’ and the pairs of disgusting-sounding ingredients, this makes a powerful image in the reader’s mind. Just imagine them all speaking these lines together in a play performance!

For another spooky example, we can look at The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly, there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

This some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door….”

The internal rhyme here creates an unsettling feeling. It allows Poe to highlight certain words to draw attention to them and emphasize their importance to the mood he creates within the poem. Poe uses a lot of internal rhyme in this poem to create tension. You grow to expect internal rhyme in almost every line. He then chooses to break it at certain points, creating unease. This poem is a perfect example to use when teaching older children about the purpose of internal rhyming in a poem.

Here is another less spooky example from a poem by Edward Lear:

“There was an old man in a tree,

Who was bored by a bee,

When they said, “Does it buzz?”

He replied, “Yes, it does!

It’s a regular brute of a bee!”

This poem uses internal rhyme in conjunction with repeated words. Limericks are very short poems, so re-using the same words ‘does’ and ‘buzz’ more than once creates a sense of irritation within the poem, like an old man muttering to himself.

Edward Lear is especially well known for his limericks. Limericks often use internal rhyme to create an enhanced rhythm and musicality on top of the end rhyme structure of AABBA. It means that the first, second, and fifth lines all rhyme, and the third and fourth lines rhyme, forming a rhyming couplet.

What is the purpose of internal rhyming in a poem?

Internal rhyme can have many purposes within a poem, play, or song lyric. A common reason is to make the writing more rhythmic. It could be a musical rhythm or a plodding rhythm, like footsteps. On the other hand, it could create an erratic rhythm to evoke a sense of frenzy or skittishness. There are lots of ways that internal rhyme can be used!

Poets, playwrights, and lyricists can use different words and amounts of internal rhyme to create other effects that match the narrative. If something can be made, it can be broken. For example, poets can break a rhythm they have made with an internal rhyme to unsettle the reader or change the poem’s mood.

What other poetic devices should children learn about?

Internal rhyming in a poem aims to create a specific effect. This effect can be enhanced by using other literary devices or structures. Here are some poetic devices that can be used alongside internal rhyme. It will be helpful for children to recognize these devices when they begin to look at literary analysis.

  • Alliteration – Alliteration means using words that start with the same letter. This repetition gives the line or stanza a kind of pulse-like beat. It can be gentle and lulling or draw attention to certain words.
  • Personification – Personification involves giving human characteristics to non-human things in your writing. It could be an animal or even an object! For example, ‘the sun was smiling on us that day, ‘the cat sneered at the dog in victory,’ or ‘the trees danced together in the storm.’
  • Onomatopoeia – Onomatopoeia can be described as using words that imitate, suggest, or even look like the word it represents. For example, many animal noises such as ‘oink’ or ‘meow’ are considered onomatopoeias, as well as words like ‘bang’ or ‘bosh.’ These are short words, often like a quick, surprising hit or explosion, which is what these words are often used to describe.
  • Simile – Similes are comparisons to help describe something. They can be figurative, e.g., ‘eating the pasta felt like falling in love, or concrete, e.g., ‘the statue looked like a huge kidney bean.’
  • Metaphor – A metaphor is somewhat similar to a simile in that it involves inviting the reader to picture something to conjure a feeling or a particular mental image. However, a metaphor doesn’t include words like ‘like.’ Instead, with a metaphor, you state that something is something else, e.g., the famous idiom ‘life is a rollercoaster. While life is not a rollercoaster, it is understood that this phrase means that life has many surprises, twists, and turns, which can also be said about the experience of riding a rollercoaster.
  • Sibilance – Note the beginning of the last point about metaphor and the word choice used there – ‘somewhat similar to simile.’ It is an example of sibilance. A sibilance is a specific form of alliteration in which you use words starting with the letter ‘s’ to create a kind of hissing effect on your writing. It can be used in other ways, like drawing attention to the ‘s’ words. For example, if you use many emotive ‘s’ words like ‘sorrow’ and ‘sadness,’ why not try to add in other ‘s’ words and create some sibilance?
  • Iambic pentameter – Iambic pentameter is most famously used in Shakespeare’s sonnets. Pentameter means five meters, as ‘penta’ means ‘five.’ So a line of poetry written in iambic pentameter has five feet five sets of stress, then unstressed syllables. For example, the line “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ from Sonnet 18 follows this pattern. Every second syllable is the one you emphasize or ‘stress.’ Sonnets also typically end with a rhyming couplet.
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