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.
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?
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.'
You should see how the first two lines, ending with 'flue' and 'do' rhyme. Then the third and fourth lines, 'flee' and 'flea', also rhyme. Lastly, the fifth line, 'flue', rhymes back with the first and second lines. The rhyme scheme for this is AABBA. Since the first, second and fifth lines rhyme, they all get the same letter. The third and fourth lines, then, get a different letter, which in this case is B.
Poems can continue on, using all the letters in the alphabet, depending on the length of the poem and the varying sounds of rhyme. In this way, poets can use external rhyme to create a specific rhythm.
Poetry is any form of literature written in lines and stanzas that has rhythm or a beat. Poets can use a number of devices to create the rhythm, but one of the easiest is to use rhyme, which is repeating similar sounds. External rhyme occurs when the last word in the lines of a poem rhyme, which is also known as end rhyme. Poets use end rhyme to create a rhyme scheme, which is a specific pattern of end rhyme using letters of the alphabet to indicate which lines rhyme. Overall, rhyme is just one way authors can create a melody, all with the purpose of etching the piece into the reader's mind.
External Rhyme Terms & Definition
|Poetry||rhythmical literature written in stanzas instead of paragraphs|
|Rhyme||using two or more words that repeat the same sounds|
|External rhyme||rhyme that occurs in the last words of each line in a poem|
|Rhyme scheme||the pattern of end rhyme|
|Limerick||a five-line poem that follows the rhyme scheme AABBA and usually focuses on humor and has some sort of joke|
After you are done here, you should be ready to:
- Define external rhyme
- Describe rhyme in poetry
- Give examples of external rhyme
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