Rhyme, coupled with meter, contributes to the musicality of a poem. A regular rhyme in traditional poetry enhances memory for reciting and provides predictable pleasure. A rhyming pattern known as a "scheme" also aids in the formation of the form. For example, an abab pattern helps students recognize the sonnet form.
Without rhyme, some modern poets feel compelled to repeat words or phrases to compensate for the lack of melody. This often results in a poem that sounds awkward or unpleasantly repetitive.
Rhyme can also contribute to the meaning of a poem. For example, the repetition of words like "sky" and "sea" in Emily Dickinson's poems creates a sense of infinity. She uses this effect to express her belief that nothing truly ends; everything is simply transformed into something new.
Finally, rhyme can be used to great effect as a decorative element in a poem. The iambic pentameter rhythm common in English poetry was originally developed by the Greek poet Simonides in 500 B.C. As one would expect from such an ancient text, few modern poets attempt to imitate its style word-for-word. But they do use rhymes to add color to their work, especially when they are using iambic pentameter themselves.
As you can see, rhyme has many effects on a poem.
Rhyme interrupts the rhythm and adds surprising flavor to modern free poetry, emphasizing the lines that rhyme. The use of meter, which is the regulated repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables within a line, helps readers recognize speech patterns and sounds associated with different emotions.
In "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," each stanza begins with a quatrain (four-line) verse section followed by a tercet (three-line) verse section. This form is called "rhymed couplet" because it contains two pairs of rhymes: "sailor/navy; mariner/maiden." In addition, some linguists consider the final line of each section to be an acrostic, or a poem that spells out the name of its subject. These names are "Columbus" and "America" for the first quatrain section, "Poe" and "Homer" for the second quatrain section, and "Blake" and "Milton" for the third quatrain section.
The use of rhyme in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" creates a melancholy tone. The sailor tells his story while the maiden weeps, and both characters are touched by his tale.
Rhyme generates a musical rhythm that helps you to anticipate what will happen next. If you recall the first line of a poem, you are more likely to remember the second line if it rhymes. This pattern construction also allows the poet to interrupt the pattern, which can cause you to feel startled or bewildered, or it can provide comedy. For example, if the second line doesn't rhyme with the first, then it can be different instead of repeating a word or phrase.
In addition to helping readers retain information, poets use rhyme and meter to express themselves creatively. Rhyme is used in many songs and poems about love, such as "A Lover's Question" by Edgar Allen Poe or "The First Rose of Spring" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Authors may choose to use rhyme because of its personal meaning to them; for example, Walt Whitman used rhyming couplets to describe the passion he felt for other men during this time in American history when homosexuality was considered a crime.
Meter is the system poets use to arrange their lines into stanzas, paragraphs, and chapters. Meter gives rhythm to a poem or song and helps define its structure. Many great poems have used iambic pentameter—five-beat lines divided into two pairs—because it is easy to sing or say.
Poetry, like other genres of literature, is written to communicate ideas, convey emotions, and generate imagery. Poets select words based on their meaning and acoustics, then arrange them to produce a meter. Some poems use rhyme systems with two or more lines that conclude in words that sound similar. This similarity creates a pattern that echoes the original theme or idea.
In general, poems are sequences of lines that include a beginning, middle, and end. The first line of a poem usually includes a title or subject, and the last line often brings the poem to a close. Between these two lines, various parts may be included to help shape the narrative flow of the poem.
These different parts are known as stanzas. A stanza is a group of lines that form a complete thought or feeling. Most poems contain three or four stanzas. Each stanza has a distinct structure that helps define its role within the poem.
The opening stanza introduces key elements of the poem, while the closing stanza serves to summarize them. In between, the stanzas provide balance by including some detail about one topic and some speculation about another. These details and predictions give readers insight into the author's mind as he created the poem.
A poem can also have a prologue and epilogue.
Meter, rhyme, shape, tone, and rhythm are all components of poetry (timing). These components are used in a variety of ways by various poets. Some poets employ no rhyme at all. Some poets utilize couplets, while others may rhyme only the second and fourth lines of a stanza. Still other poets might choose to end each line with a full stop (period), while others might choose to end some lines with a hyphen or a semicolon.
A poem is a sequence of lines that conform to the rules of grammar. A poem can be as few as ten lines or as many as hundreds. Poems can be written in prose and then formatted as poems by using italics and punctuation marks appropriately. For example, the sentence "The dog ran up on the porch" would be considered prose because there is no indication of meter or rhyme scheme. However, if this same sentence was separated into three lines with one new paragraph after each, it would now be considered a poem because it indicates that this is a sequence of lines conforming to the rules of grammar with a regular beat that repeats at the end of each line. This form of poem is called an Alexandrine stanza because the first two lines follow the pattern "Alexandrine verse: abba caaaa-daaa." That is, one syllable is stressed on the first and last words of each line (abba) while the middle words have less stress (caaaa and daaa).
While rhyming is very easy to measure (simply check for the similar sounds at the ends of the lines), meter is more difficult. The rhythm of a poem is referred to as its meter. Even if the terms have the same origin, this is not the same as rhyming. Rhyming is just one way that meters can be measured.
There are many different kinds of meters used in poetry. Some are simple while others are complex. Most use syllables rather than letters as their basic unit of measurement. A syllable is any sound that produces a vibration of the vocal cords, such as a spoken word or phrase. Many languages have different names for certain syllables; these are used by poets when they want to indicate that particular sound. For example, in English there is a syllable called "ly" that has a short sound like "y" or a long sound like "I". These two types of syllables are known as "strong" and "weak", respectively. It is possible to use both strong and weak syllables in the same line of poetry; this is often done when trying to emphasize a particular word or words within the line.
In addition to having different names, each syllable has a unique sound quality that can be described as "heavy" or "light". When reading poetry, try to imagine which syllables are heavy and which ones are light.