I do a lot of rhyming in my scribbles. Some of it is good, some of it is plain awful, but regardless of what I try to do, it usually ends up rhyming. So what is rhyme, really? Yes, dear friends, it'll be one of those long, muddled posts about the basics of poetry that you know so well, or think you do.
According to Wikipedia, a rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words often used in poetry or songs. True enough, we hardly go around rhyming in our everyday speech, do we? The word in itself comes from Old Frankish language and means series or sequence. But, and here is the nub of the whole thing, there is far more than one type of rhyming and rhyming is a lot more difficult, at least if you want to master poetry-speak, than just using the words 'hat' and 'mat' at the end of two lines in your poem.
Two words rhyme if their final stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical. Thinking about it that way makes me stressed, so I am not surprised at the poor vowel's stress levels! It also says that two lines of poetry rhyme if their final stressed positions are filled with rhyming words.
For a rhyme to be considered a perfect rhyme it has to use an identical vowel sound in both words and the articulation before the rhyming vowel must differ between the two words ('leave' and 'believe' are not perfect rhymes, whereas 'spleen' and 'been' would be).
There is also a form of rhyming that can be done using homonyms (and I had to look that word up) and homophones, which means that both words use the same stressed vowel sound, these would not have a different articulation before the rhyming vowel and can therefore not be called perfect rhymes. I think an example would be the use of the word 'stalk' (as in stem of a flower) and the word 'stalk' (as in following someone), and these rhymes are called mirror rhymes. Please remember that not every word that starts with homo- has something to do with sexuality. Homo is a Greek prefix that means 'the same'.
Now on to what most of us probably do when we are writing poetry (I know I do, anyway), general rhyming. A general rhyme is any kind of word that has a phonetic similarity to another word. In other words, they have a similar sound. These general rhymes can be classified depending on the extent to which they do rhyme, as follows:
- syllabic rhyme: the last syllable in each word sounds the same, but does not necessarily contain a vowel. (pitter - patter)
- imperfect rhyme: one word contains a stressed vowel and the other does not. (wing - caring)
- semirhyme: one word contains an extra syllable. (bend - ending)
- oblique (slant/forced) rhyme: the words are not perfectly matched in sound. (one - thumb)
- assonance: the vowels of the words match (not necessarily making them rhyme). (shake - hate)
- consonance: the consonants of the words match. (rabies - robbers)
- half (sprung) rhyme: the final consonants of the words match. (bent - ant)
- alliteration (head) rhyme: the initial consonants of the words match. (short - ship)
The funny part (if there is such a thing here) is that if one of the words being rhymed is the entirety of the other (ball - all), it is not considered a rhyme at all, whereas 'gun' - 'begun' would be considered a super-rhyme since not only the vowels, but the onsets of the rhyming syllables are identical.
So why all this talk of rhyming? Can't we just leave the words be and let them come to us? Believe it or not (and I have no scientific foundation for this) but we are coming up on the time of the year where more people than ever engage in the activity of writing poetry. Christmas and the weeks leading up to it have to be our high season, really, and we might want to think about that. Why? Well, many families in many different countries are preparing to exchange gifts over the holidays, and who has not at least thought of adding a rhyme to the Christmas present? Giving dad yet another tie? Something like 'Around your neck, this should go - to once again say I love you so', perhaps? A perfume for your partner/wife/girlfriend? 'I promise and I truly swear - that this will not clash with whatever you wear'.
Are you in a Christmas rhyme writing mood? Or do you just want to share some of your poetry with a community that promotes and supports on-line poets in a friendly atmosphere? Please feel free to join in this week's Poetry Picninc Week 17: Photos, Nostalgia, Memories and Families or why not enter the Poets Rally Week 58 over at The Poetry Palace? I hope to see you back here next week for some more bubbly and a chit-chat about poetry forms.