Leishman, J. B. The Metaphysical Poets: Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, Traherne. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934.

RHYME Rhyme refers to two or more words in poetry containing identical or similar sounds in their final syllable. The Greek term rhythmos, from which the word rhyme derived, was refined by old French to rime, also an acceptable modern spelling. Several types of rhymes exist, the more common of which will be explained here.

In perfect rhyme the words sound identical with the same vowel sounds preceded by different consonants, an example seen in the terms pine and fine, employed by Robert Herrick in his "The Mower's Song" from The MOWER Poems: "But these, while I with sorrow pine, / Grew more luxuriant still and fine." These lines also represent masculine rhyme in which the final syllables are stressed, as well as tail rhyme, the most common form of rhyme, occurring at the lines' ends. In feminine rhyme the penultimate syllable rhymes, as at the end of these lines from Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man: "To sigh for ribbands if thou art so silly, / Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, of Sir Billy." Eye rhyme indicates two words that look as if they should be perfect rhymes but are pronounced differently. In some cases pronunciation changes over time, causing a once-perfect rhyme to become eye rhyme. In oblique or slant rhyme the words sound similar but are not identical. In these four additional lines from Herrick's "The Mower's Song" the first two end in eye rhyme, while the second two end in oblique or slant rhyme:

And thus, ye meadows, which have been

Companions of my thoughts more green,

Shall now the heraldry become

With which I shall adorn my tomb.

In internal rhyme words within the line rhyme, or a word within the line rhymes with the line's final term. An example may be seen in the words to and due in a line from Pope's An ESSAY ON CRITICISM: "That not alone what to your Sense is due." Identity rhyme means the use of identical words, as in a line from Herrick's "The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn," also an example of internal rhyme: "Twould stay, and run again, and stay." Imperfect rhyme is seen in words in which an unstressed syllable rhymes with a stressed one, as in another line from that same poem, "The brotherless Heliades / Melt in such amber tears as these." In dactylic rhyme stress occurs on the third from the last syllable, seen in these lines from Pope's An Essay on Man, "In Faith and Hope the world will disagree, / But all Mankind's concern is Charity."

Rhyme has been used to help dictate fixed form poetry, as in rime royal, a format in which each seven-line stanza adopts the meter of iambic pentameter with the set rhyme scheme ababbcc. The lines may be set either in tercet and two couplets, ababbcc, or a tercset with one quatrain, ababbcc.

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