Poems with ABAB Rhyme Scheme: Examples & Definition

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  • 0:01 Introduction
  • 1:16 Examples
  • 1:48 Robert Frost
  • 3:41 Shakespeare
  • 6:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Megan Pryor

Megan has tutored extensively and has a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Fiction.

In this lesson, we will delve into the wonderful world of poetry. Specifically, we will analyze poems with the ABAB rhyme scheme. After a few examples, we will analyze how poets implement this type of rhyme scheme to create memorable poems. We will conclude our lesson with a brief quiz.

ABAB Rhyme Scheme: Definition

One of the first choices a poet needs to make when writing a new poem involves the structure of the poem. Some poems are written in free verse or open form, which means that the poem does not have a particular structure. Other poems are written with non-rhyming structures that pay attention to the number of syllables. A haiku is an example of this type of form. Finally, other poems are written with a certain type of rhyming scheme.

Shakespearean Sonnets
Picture of Sonnet 18

Today we will examine the ABAB rhyme scheme. The ABAB rhyme scheme means that for every four lines, the first and third lines will rhyme with each other and the second and fourth lines will also rhyme with each other. There are many different types of rhymes that occur within lines, but for the purposes of this lesson, we will focus on the last word in each line only.

The most important thing to take away from the concept of the ABAB rhyme scheme is the fact that every other line rhymes. This is in contrast to the AABB rhyme scheme, where lines rhyme in consecutive pairs.


To get a better understanding of this format, it's best if we just dive into some examples. Let's look at two famous authors who wrote using the ABAB rhyming scheme in their poems: Robert Frost and William Shakespeare. Both Frost and Shakespeare's poems had a lasting impact on their audiences. Part of this impact was due to the way the rhymed lines create a rhythm that lingers in the minds of people who either read these poems or hear them out loud. Now, let's take a look at a few poems that employ the ABAB rhyme structure.

Robert Frost

We will begin with Robert Frost's famous poem, 'Neither Out Far Nor In Deep.'

'The people along the sand

All turn and look one way.

They turn their back on the land.

They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass

A ship keeps raising its hull;

The wetter ground like glass

Reflects a standing gull.

The land may vary more;

But wherever the truth may be---

The water comes ashore,

And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.

They cannot look in deep.

But when was that ever a bar

To any watch they keep?'

There are four separate stanzas in the Robert Frost poem, but in each stanza the ABAB rhyme scheme applies. Take the first stanza, for example. 'Sand' rhymes with 'land,' and 'way' rhymes with 'day.' Sometimes in ABAB poems, the rhyme scheme will continue throughout the entire poem, but sometimes the exact rhyme will change between stanzas. If you wrote the rhyme scheme out for this poem, it would be 'ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH.' In order for the poem to be written out 'ABAB ABAB ABAB ABAB,' the rhyme would have to stay consistent for all the 'A' lines and all the 'B' lines. All the odd lines would have to rhyme with 'sand,' and all the even lines would have to rhyme with 'way.'

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