External Rhyme: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 The Melody of Poetry
  • 0:36 Rhyme Defined
  • 1:00 External Rhyme Defined
  • 1:50 Rhyme Scheme Defined
  • 3:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

In this lesson, you will review the definition of rhyme and why it is a common trait of poetry. Then you will further analyze one type of rhyme: external rhyme.

The Melody of Poetry

Think of your favorite song. What about it makes it your favorite? Is it the beat? The words? You most likely know the song so well, you can sing it without the music. Songs are actually the most popular types of poetry, which can be broadly defined as rhythmical literature written in stanzas instead of paragraphs.

Poetry must have some sort of beat. This is why songs can be memorized so easily. As with songs, poetry is meant to be spoken orally, and not read from a page. This allows for the musicality and melody to be heard. But what makes a written piece have a melody or a rhythm?

Rhyme Defined

One of the most common strategies to make a poem have a beat or melody is to create a pattern of sounds, which makes the words much easier to remember. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use rhyme. Rhyme is simply using two or more words, which repeat the same sounds. There are many types of rhyme, but we will look at one in particular.

External Rhyme Defined

External rhyme is rhyme that occurs in the last words of each line in a poem. Because it is at the end of each line, it is also known as end rhyme. Look at the first stanza from Ernest Thayer's poem 'Casey at the Bat'.

'The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day;

The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.'

Which lines have end rhyme? You should be able to see every line has external rhyme. 'Day' rhymes with 'play', and 'same' rhymes with 'game'. This is a great example of using end rhyme to create the rhythm. The entire poem continues with each line rhyming with the next.

Rhyme Scheme Defined

Part of what makes external rhyme create the beat or rhythm of a poem is following a specific pattern of rhyme. The pattern of end rhyme is called rhyme scheme. Some poets follow a specific rhyme scheme to create a certain beat, which makes their message more easily imprinted on the reader or listener.

A simple type of poem to use rhyme scheme is the limerick. A limerick is a five-line poem that follows the rhyme scheme AABBA and usually focuses on humor and has some sort of joke. Look at the limerick by an anonymous author and notice, which lines rhyme.

'A flea and a fly in a flue

Were caught, so what could they do?

Said the fly, 'Let us flee.'

'Let us fly,' said the flea.

So they flew through a flaw in the flue.'

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