The Elements of Poetry Part 2: Rhyme

For week two of National Poetry Month, April, I will continue my brief introductions to the four elements of poetry. These four elements are Prosody, Rhyme, Form, and Diction. The second in the four-part series I will discuss on the elements of poetry is Rhyme. A poem need not rhyme but the use of this element can enhance the goals of the writer. The lyrics of many songs rhyme adding a sing-song effect to the rhythm of the lyrics or poem. There are a few ways one can create repetitive patterns of sound in poetry that most people are not aware.

Rhyme is most often identical sounds or similar sounds placed at the end of lines. Identical sounds called hard-rhymes (true, blue) and similar sounds called soft-rhymes (hate, fake). These hard and soft-rhymes can occur in the middle of lines depending on the effect the writer wants. Another type of repetition of sound is alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of letters or letter sounds at the beginning of two or more words (Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers). Assonance and Consonance are other ways to create repetitive patterns of sound.

Assonance is the use of similar vowel sounds within a word as opposed to the beginning or end of a word (go slow over the road). Consonance is the repetition of a consonant sound throughout a sentence without putting it at the beginning of words (some mammals are clammy). Rhyme schemes are a structured way of using repetitive patterns. Labeled as “aabb” where the first two lines of a poem rhyme and the following two rhyme. But the four lines do not use the same rhyme sound. Classic structured form poetry uses rhyme schemes more than contemporary poetry. 

I recommend writers play around with different patterns of sound in their poetry. It develops the mastery of language. This device can benefit writing prose as well but only when used in small amounts. Repetitions of sound in poetry are most effective with spoken word poetry.