Stymied by rhyme?

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To rhyme or not to rhyme, if you choose to rhyme, you must rhyme well, for if you don’t it will sound like . . . Well, you understand don’t you?

From the Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce – RIME, n. Agreeing sounds in the terminals of verse, mostly bad. The verses themselves, as distinguished from prose, mostly dull. Usually (and wickedly) spelled “rhyme.”

When asked about English words without a rhyme, most will quite correctly say orange, purple and silver. There are actually many words in the English language lacking a partner in perfect rhyme.

If it’s true rhyme you’re looking for, you may want to steer clear of the words: anything, January, stubborn, apricot, dictionary and xylophone. Good luck with chaos, angry, hostage, rhythm, shadow, circus, crayon and glimpsed. Angst and empty, depth and width will be tough to rhyme, just like glimpsed and else and diamond and chocolate. Penguin and galaxy do not have any true rhymes, nor does elbow or engine, anxious or monster.

A perfect rhyme, sometimes referred to as true rhyme or full rhyme, is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as; a rhyme in which the final accented vowel and all succeeding consonants or syllables are identical, while the preceding consonants are different, for example, great, late; rider, beside her; dutiful, beautiful.

Pure rhyme can be broken down even further. Words such as dog and log are single pure rhymes. Silly and willy would hence be referred to as double pure rhymes. An example of a triple pure rhyme would be mystery and history.

The longer the word, the harder it will be to find a perfect rhyme, this doesn’t mean they cannot be used in the context of rhyme however. Para-rhymes are defined as a partial or imperfect rhyme, often using assonance or consonance only, as in dry and died or grown and moon. This is also called half rhyme, near rhyme, oblique rhyme, slant rhyme or forced rhyme. This refers to words that do not completely rhyme, but use like sound to form the desired effect. A common example is the word discombobulate, to create a fluid sounding rhyme, three syllables must be utilized, populate would work well as a half rhyme in this instance. Hill and hell or mystery and mastery are examples of para-rhyme.

Masculine rhyme, or monosyllabic rhyme, is among the most common; this technique stresses the final syllable of each word, as in sublime and rhyme, or went and sent. Feminine rhyme differs in that the stress is on two or more syllables such as pleasure and treasure or fountain and mountain. Identical rhyme is simply using the same word twice.

There are various other examples of rhyme; eye rhyme is a rhyme consisting of words, such as lint and pint or love and move with similar spellings, but different sounds. Rich rhyme is a word rhymed with its homonym such as blue with blew, guest with guessed.

Scarce rhymes are words with limited rhyming alternatives like wisp and lisp, motionless and oceanless. Wrenched rhyme is the rhyming of a stressed syllable with an unstressed syllable as in words like lady and bee or bent and firmament.

Internal and external multi-syllable rhymes utilize the rhyming of more than one word, in this example, bleak and seek are internal rhymes; words within the body of the stanza, while night and light are external rhymes and fall at the end of a line.

So she found him
in the bleak of night,
lost on his quest
to seek the light.

Assonance rhyme is the matching of the vowel sounds, feast and feed, fever and feature. In syllable rhyme, the last syllable in each word is matching, pitter and patter, batter and matter. Consonance rhyme is matching the consonants in each word, her and dark. Alliteration is matching the beginning sounds of each word, often used in a series; perfect, poetic, personification.

Many people wrongly assume writing a rhymed poem is an easy task, until they actually try to write one, that is . . . There is much more to it than seeking words that rhyme, but we’ll discuss it at length some other time.

Crystal R. Cook

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