Forms of Verse, Fall 2000

The following are some student questions and answers regarding rhyme.  You may click on any of these topics to go right to that discussion, or you can scroll through this document and read all the commentary.

Understanding where rhyme occurs in a line.
A discussion of "consistency" in contemporary prosody.
Some comments on the use of analyzed rhyme.
Using more than one kind of rhyme.

I don't know why I'm just now confused about this [so late in the semester];  I'm in need of clarification (as I scratch my head over the 15 blank lines before me, which are supposed to take on the appearance of a rondeau).  Does the rhyme scheme of a form--in this case, rondeau--"aabba" etc.--dictate that those a's and b's occur as the last word of the line?  Or can the a's and b's occur anywhere in the line we want them to?  I know that in order to accommodate some of the types of rhymes described in Turco's handbook (i.e. linked rhyme and enjambed rhyme), the answer must be in agreement with the latter, but I need to hear it from you.  In the 7th grade it had been pounded into me that "abab" (as in the sonnet) meant, without exception, the last word of the line.  Thus I am slow to grasp the notion that in a form poem, one can deviate from that formula.
Kristi Bell

This is a good question, and certainly not too late in the semester.

Rhyme is a magical thing, and thinking of it as occurring only as the last word in a line--though this is often our first thought--is only a very narrow interpretation of its possibilities.  *aabba* etc.--in this case for the rondeau, but pertaining to all similar rhyme schemes--refers to rhyme regarding those lines, but not with particular or absolute reference to the last words in those lines.  So, if you want to use linked rhyme or enjambed rhyme, or head or internal or interlaced rhyme, or any other, go ahead!  That, too, satisfies the *aabba* requirement. 

Incidentally, for a quick reference to all these choices, go to the following (which I also handed out):


I have read your posting on rhyme, and it helps, but then when I come to my own poems my will is weak and I sense I am "cheating." You have stressed that consistency is the most important thing when creating a rhyme scheme--how consistent is consistent? For example, in the poem I am working on I am using assonance at the ends of lines. However, sometimes the last word in a line is one syllable, and other times it is a multisyllabic word. Must the assonant rhyme be in the last syllable at all times, or can it move to the first syllable of a multisyllabic word?

Jennifer Dobbins

Well, this is interesting, and understandably difficult or frustrating, I know.  In theory, it is the stricter interpretation; in practice, of course, it is the looser approach. My advice, however--at least for now--is to try and keep at the consistency as carefully as you can, which means the assonance falls on the same syllable throughout. But really, I won't be bothered at all if there is some wavering.  That's the truth of the practice, after all.  What I am saying, though, is to be sure
you have worked at it.  Make certain of that first, and don't start out assuming you can't do it, or that's it's all right not to do it.  If, after that, the best solution is clearly a little variance, well then all right.  Okay?  Okay.  But be sure.--AR


I am trying to work with analyzed rime for my Kyrielle, but how it
actually fits an a b a b scheme has me a little puzzled.  Assume that my a is "sweet" and my B(r) is "up".  Analyzed rimes off those would be "-eep"  and "-ut" sounds.  So is it the vowel sound or the terminal consonant that defines the a vs. b-ness?  that is,

          sweet   a
          deep     b
          but       a
          up        B

OR would it be


or do I have latitude to do it however I want, I hope? 

Pam Willson

It's the analyzed part that is considered the rhyming effort--it need not be the last syllable, or even, necessarily, the second-to-last syllable.  In your case, you may choose which part of your words is the "analyzed" part--either the vowel or the consonant.  Thereafter, however, you must be consistent.  So, the short answer is, you have the leeway to choose, just be consistent after that.  When you state that your rhyme is analyzed rhyme, tell us what the "choice" is.  This is a good question, and I'm glad you are working with this.--AR


What makes the examples used analyzed rhyme rather than near rhyme or assonance?  i guess i can see that Pam [above] arrived at the rhyming words by way of analysis, but isn't the end result here really assonance?  and if we used a rhyme scheme of this sort, it seems that we could certainly call it assonance and no one would argue?  i guess for me, i take an Ockham's Razor approach to theory, so i would have simply decided "assonance!" and then found the necessary words in my mental lexicon rather than going through the process of "analyzing" the words.  does analysis create a difference; in other words, does it ever create anything that we couldn't/wouldn't classify as something else that already exists (e.g. the conclusion that, somehow, deep rhymes with pass)?

John Ferra

This is a good question (your Q&A is fulfilled!).  Your deduction is essentially correct.  Analyzed rhyme is something like a closed form, rather than an open form.  An open form is simply a way to do something, but it doesn't have further rules.  A closed form has a way to proceed and possibly other finite requirements.  For example, terza rima is an open form, and therefore can go on and on without other requirement--no set number of lines, no rules about refrains, and so on.  However, it can also be used to complete a closed form, and often is.  There can, for example, be a terza rima sonnet.  The sonnet does have definite requirements that typify the form.  The terza rima is an open form, therefore, while the sonnet is a closed form.  And they can indeed merge, and often do.  The same is true for analyzed rhyme.  Assonance (like an open form) can be used to complete a poem using analyzed rhyme (like a closed form).  I hope this helps. --AR

Prosody Q & A | Rhyme | Rondeau

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Tuesday, October 10, 2000
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