Rhyming Rhythms

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One thing about the rhythm we discussed on the last post: rhyme can help accent the rhythm. What do I mean by that?

Traditional rhyme patters rhyme the final syllable(s) of alternating lines, such as this one from Emily Dickinson, her “#303:”

“The Soul selects her own Society –

Then – shuts the Door –

To her divine Majority –

Present no more – ”

The first and third lines end with feminine syllables (although they have an iamb feel), the rhymed words accenting this feel. The other two lines end in masculine syllables, both implying some sense of finality.

In this line by D.H. Lawrence’s “The Ship of Death,”

“Now it is autumn and the falling fruit”

contains what’s called internal rhymes – the “au” of autumn, and “all” of falling, amplify strongly accented syllables in the line. This helps reinforce the sense of a modified iambic pentameter line. Since these rhymes aren’t literal, (same or similar spelling) they’re called slant rhymes.

On the famous line from that post, you have a near-perfect example of internal rhyming:

“In Xanadu did Kublai Khan”

Remember not to force the rhymes any more than you’d force an iambic pentameter rhythm. The line’s meaning, along with rhythm and rhyme must flow in the manner of spoken language.

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