If you bought this book because you love poetry and want to compose it, chances are you already know about rhyme — at least from a typical reader's perspective. Doesn't everyone? As children, we are enthralled by words that sound the same and laugh at all those Horton Hears a Who or The Cat in the Hat rhymes by Dr. Seuss. Or we memorize Mother Goose rhymes and sing along. Then, in elementary school, we try our own hand at rhyming poems, usually finishing the ditty "Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue" with something sweet or clever: "I love my mother/And she loves me too!" or "Flamingoes are pink/And live in the zoo!" Soon we encounter our first serious poems in middle school, and they almost always rhyme, from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" to Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." Finally, in high school, we meet and memorize Shakespeare and attempt to pen our first sonnet — rhyming fourteen lines according to a predetermined scheme. Thereafter some of us decide to keep reading and writing poetry . . . and others vow never to touch the stuff again!

But, no matter how we feel about poetry, we all associate rhyme with it.

There is more to rhyme, though, than choosing words with exact or approximate sounds and tacking them on the ends of lines. Used in such manner, all rhyme does is help the poet end a line so he or she can hurry to the next one, without caring much about the effect the rhyme is having on the poem proper.

Rhyme is capable of accomplishing much more. Not only can it help shape a work, it also can:

• Combine with meter to add melody to a beat.

• Augment the meaning of a poem.

To illustrate the power of rhyme, here is a sentence in prose, free verse, meter, meter and slant rhyme (approximate-sounding but un-

rhyming last syllables), meter and rhyme, and meter and double rhyme (two or more ending syllables that rhyme):


Since the dawn of time, people tap fingers and toes to music. It seems we are pentadactylic for a reason.

(Free Verse)

We are pentadactylic. We tap toes and fingers for a reason. (Meter)

Mortals mark time on their fingers and toes, Humming the mantras of Adam and Eve.

(Slant Rhyme and Meter)

We are pentadactylic, as everyone knows, Marking off meter according to laws.

(Rhyme and Meter)

We are pentadactylic, as everyone knows, Marking off meter with fingers and toes.

(Double Rhyme and Meter)

Adam and Eve were made pentadactylic. Only a snake would find that idyllic.

As you can see, each time the rhyme combines with meter or changes mode, the sound of the couplet also changes, even though the meaning of the words basically remains the same: an observation about the human having five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. In each version, we can sense how sound —especially rhyme — affects or shades that meaning. The slant rhyme and meter version, for instance, has a slight tension to it, whereas the double rhyme and meter version has a comic element. The power of rhyme is even greater than illustrated above, depending on the sound, placement and emphasis given to words whose vowels and consonants blend to produce certain effects in poems. Let's study them.

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