Lesson one

1.1       RHYMES

A Rhyme refers to two words or lines of poetry that end with a similar sound. E.g cat and hat.

It can also be defined as the identity of sound between two words extending from the last fully stressed vowels. For instance,the poem below portrays rhymes . 


Through the house what busy joy, (a)

Just because the infant boy (a)

Has a tiny tooth to show! (b)

I have got a double row, (b)

All as white and all as small; (c)

Yet no – one cares for mine at all. (c)

He can say but half a word, (d)

Yet that single sound’s preferred (d)

To all the words that I can say (e)

In the longest summer day. (f)

He cannot walk, yet if he put (f)

With mimic action out his foot, (g)

As if he thought he were advancing, (g)

It’s prized more than my best dancing. (g)

                                          Charles and Mary Lamb.

The following pairs of words from the poem rhyme since in each pair, we notice that the vowel sound of the two words is the same, but the initial consonant sound is different.

Joy         –      boy

Show      –     row

Small      –     all

 Word      –     preferred

Say          –    day

Put          –     foot

When the last words in a line of poetry rhyme, we call this type of rhyme END RHYME.

When rhyme occurs within a line of a poem, we call it INTERNAL RHYME. An example of internal rhyme is in line 5 of the poem above: All as white and all as small. 

1.2       RHYME SCHEME

End rhyme scheme is the way we identify the end rhyme pattern of a poem. In order to understand it, all you have to do is look at the last words of each line. Below are the rules:

  1. Using the letters of the alphabet, assign the first letter (a) to the last word of the first line.
  1. Look at the last word of the second line. If it rhymes with the last in the line above , it gets the same letter,(a) if it doesn’t rhyme with the word above , it gets a new letter(the next one in the alphabet which will be” b”).
  1. Continue the process described in (2) above throughout the whole poem. Be sure to look at all the lines above to see if the last word of the line you are working on rhymes with any of the last words above.

Following the rules identified above, we can now establish the rhyme scheme of the poem “The first tooth”

1.3       Exercise

What is the rhyme scheme of this poem? 


I shall return again. I shall return

To laugh and love and watch with wonder-eyes

At golden noon the forest fires burn,

Wafting their blue – black smoke to Sapphire skies.

I shall return to loiter by the streams

That bathe the brown blades of the bending grasses,

And realize once more my thousand dreams

Of waters rushing down the mountain passes.

I shall return to hear the fiddle and Fife

Of village dances, dear delicious tumes

That stir the hidden depths of native life,

Stray melodies of dim – remembered tunes,

I shall return. I shall return again.

To ease my mind of long,long years of pain.

                           By Claude McKay ( Jamaica )