Calliope Corner #6

Rhyming Schema

“Rhyming scheme is the pattern of rhymes at the end of each line of a poem or song. It is usually referred to by using letters to indicate which lines rhyme; lines designated with the same letter all rhyme with each other.”

“The rhyme patterns that are used have various , and can be used to:

  • Control flow: If every line has the same rhyme (AAAA), the stanza will read as having a very quick flow, whereas a rhyme scheme like ABCABC can be felt to unfold more slowly.
  • Structure a poems message and thought patterns: For example, a simple couplet with a rhyme scheme of AABB lends itself to simpler direct ideas, because the resolution comes in the very next line. Essentially these couplets can be thought of as self-contained statements. This idea of rhyme schemes reflecting thought processes is often discussed particularly regarding sonnets.
  • Determine whether a stanza is balanced or unbalanced
  • Help to reinforce the feeling being expressed: If the writer wants to express stubbornness, they may use tight structured rhyme schemes, whereas if one was writing about feeling lost, then perhaps the stanza would only have one rhyme (XXAXXXA).

A basic distinction is between rhyme schemes that apply to a single stanza, and those that continue their pattern throughout an entire poem (see chain rhyme). There are also more elaborate related forms, like the sestina – which requires repetition of exact words in a complex pattern. Rhyming is not a mandatory feature of poetry; a four line stanza with non-rhyming lines could be described as using the scheme ABCD.”

“Notation used below:

  • ABAB – Four-line stanza, first and third lines rhyme at the end, second and fourth lines rhyme at the end.
  • AB AB – Two two-line stanzas, with the first lines rhyming at the end and the second lines rhyming at the end.
  • AB,AB – Single two-line stanza, with the two lines having both a single internal rhyme and a conventional rhyme at the end.
  • aBaB – Two different possible meanings for a four-line stanza:
    • First and third lines rhyme at the end, second and fourth lines are repeated verbatim.
    • First and third lines have a feminine rhyme and the second and fourth lines have a masculine rhyme.
  • A1abA2 A1abA2 – Two stanzas, where the first lines of both stanzas are exactly the same, and the last lines of both stanzas are the same. The second lines of the two stanzas are different, but rhyme at the end with the first and last lines. (In other words, all the “A” and “a” lines rhyme with each other, but not with the “b” lines.)”

Notable rhyme schemes:

We’d rather have the iceberg than the ship,
although it meant the end of travel.
Although it stood stock-still like cloudy rock
and all the sea were moving marble.
We’d rather have the iceberg than the ship;
we’d rather own this breathing plain of snow
though the ship’s sails were laid upon the sea
as the snow lies undissolved upon the water.
O solemn, floating field,
are you aware an iceberg takes repose
with you, and when it wakes may pasture on your snows?

This is a scene a sailor’d give his eyes for.
The ship’s ignored. The iceberg rises
and sinks again; its glassy pinnacles
correct elliptics in the sky.
This is a scene where he who treads the boards
is artlessly rhetorical. The curtain
is light enough to rise on finest ropes
that airy twists of snow provide.
The wits of these white peaks
spar with the sun. Its weight the iceberg dares
upon a shifting stage and stands and stares.

The iceberg cuts its facets from within.
Like jewelry from a grave
it saves itself perpetually and adorns
only itself, perhaps the snows
which so surprise us lying on the sea.
Good-bye, we say, good-bye, the ship steers off
where waves give in to one another’s waves
and clouds run in a warmer sky.
Icebergs behoove the soul
(both being self-made from elements least visible)
to see them so: fleshed, fair, erected indivisible.

What poems are you reading/writing this week?

Prompt: Endings/beginnings