Rhyme Scheme in Poetry | Meaning, Types and Examples in Literature

Rhyme Scheme in Poetry | Meaning, Types and Examples in Literature

Rhyme Meaning

Rhyme means the recurrence of similar sound at the closing syllables of different lines in a verse.

Thus, in Wordsworth’s lines

“The days are cold, the nights are long

The north wind sings a doleful song“

there is the recurrence of the similar sound at the closing syllables of the lines.

Similarly, there is the recurrence of the similar sound at the end of the following verses :

“Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,

Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.”


“There she sees a damsel bright,

Drest in a silken robe of white.”

– Coleridge

“Think not, when woman’s transient breath is fled.

That all her vanities at pmce are dead.”

– Pope

A rhyming poem is a piece of poetry that contains vowels that rhyme at particular times. Similar vowel sounds that rhyme are known as “assonance”. Apparently similar consonantal sounds that rhyme are known as “consonance”.

However it is not mandatory that all poems should rhyme. Such as Blank Verse is a type of poetry that consists of perfect rhythm (Iambic Pentameter) but no rhyme at all. In Free Verse rhyme and rhythm do not occur at all.

Rhyme is this correspondence of sounds in the terminating syllable or syllables of verses.

Rhyme Vs Rhythm

Rhyme, however, should not be confused with rhythm. The former denotes the recurrence of the similar sounds at the closing syllables, while the latter consists in the periodical recurrence of pauses and accents.

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Examples of Rhyme in Poetry

Rhyme may occur in consecutive as well as alternate lines. The Rhyme existing between consecutive lines has already been noted. Two examples of the other variety are now given:

“You’re wrong. He was the mildest manner’d man

That ever scuttled ship or cut a throat,

With such true breeding of a gentleman,

You never could divine his real thought.”


(Here ‘man’ rimes with ‘gentleman’, ‘throat’ with thought.)

“Again the wild flower wine she drank:

Her fair large eyes ‘gan glitter bright,

And from the floor whereon she sank,

The lofty lady stood upright.”


(The rhyme is here existing between alternate lines in the words ‘drank” and ‘sank’ and ‘bright’ and ‘upright’.)

Rhyme may occur in other forms, too:

“That dies not, but endures with pain.

And slowly forms the firmer mind

Treasuring the look it cannot find.

The words that are not heard again.”


(Here the rhyme is found in the first and fourth lines and the second and third lines.)

Types of Rhyme

Rhymes are of different varieties–

  1. Single or Male Rime

Here the sounds of the last syllables of the verses only are similar, e.g..

“On either side the river lie

Long fields of barley and of rye.”


  1. Double or Feminine Rhyme

In this case, the last two syllables of the lines agree : e.g.

“Rich the trea-sure.

Sweet the plea-sure.”


Both the closing syllables of the first line rhyme with those of the second.

  1. Triple Rhyme

In this case, the last three syllables of verses rhyme, e.g.

“Alas! for the ra-ri-ry

Of Christian cha-ri-ty.”


The last three syllables of the first line rhyme with those of the next

N.B. Double and Triple times are generally used for comic or satirical purposes.

  1. Line Rhyme

In this case, two accented syllables are used in a verse to form a perfect rhyme with each other, Usually, the end of the verse is found to Rhyme with the middle. Here are some examples:

“I bear light shade for the leaves when laid,”

– Shelley

(‘Shade’ rimes with ‘laid’.)

“And ice mast-high came floating by.”


(‘high’ rimes with ‘by’.)

“By forms unfashion’d fresh from Nature’s hand.


(unfashion’d’ rimes with ‘hand’.)

N.B. These line- rhymes are called Leonine, after the name of Leoninus, a Latin poet of the twelfth century, who used this pattern of versification.

  1. Imperfect Rhyme or Assonance

When the same vowel sound in the closing syllables of verses is followed by different consonant sounds, there is a sort of imperfect rime, called assonance. Thus, in the example

“Let me choose, and on such shore

Will I plant my lowly home-“  

the same vowel sound is followed by different consonant sounds.

  1. Slant Rhyme or Consonance

Slant Rhyme is type of rhyme where words sound similar but do not have exact rhyming. For this reason it is also called near rhyme or oblique rhyme.

Such as “worm” and “swarm” sound similar, but they do not rhyme exactly.

“It seemed that out of battle I escaped

Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped.”

(Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen)

  1. Eye Rhyme

An eye rhyme is a type of rhyme that looks like almost similar in naked eye but pronounced differently.

“The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;
The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.”

(Hamlet, William Shakespeare)

Here the words “flies” and “enemies” ends in –ies but both the words sounds differently.

  1. End Rhyme

End rhyme occurs when two consecutive lines of poetry end with similar rhyming words.

“Tyger, tiger burning bright,
In the forest of the night.”

(The Tyger by William Blake)

“Whose woods these are, I think I know,
His house is in the village, though.”

(Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost)

  1. Rich Rhymes

Rich Rhyme occurs when two different words take same sounds (homonyms).

“ Partake the fire divine that burns,
 In Milton, Pope, and Scottish Burns,
 Who sang his native braes and burns.”

(A First Attempt in Rhyme by Thomas Hood)

  1. Identical Rhyme

Identical Rhyme happens when same word using twice.

 “We paused before a House that seemed
 A Swelling of the Ground
The Roof was scarcely visible—
The Cornice—in the Ground—“

  1. Nursery Rhyme

A nursery rhyme is the traditional type of poetry usually sung for amusing baby.

Baa baa black sheep

Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!
One for the master, one for the dame,
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

Conditions of Perfect Rhymes

A perfect rime should satisfy the following conditions:

(i)The vowel sound of the closing syllables and any consonantal sound, that may follow it, must be the same.

N.B. Rime depends on the sound, and not on the spelling, of the word and so the pronunciation is to be noted only.

(ii) The articulation preceding the vowel sound must be different. When the consonants before the vowel are identical the time does not become a happy one.

(iii) The riming syllables must be accented,

Perfect rimes are pleasing, and make the verses easily comprehensible. In the language of Prof. Bain, rime stands ‘higher than any other poetic artifice in popular estimation.’


The flow of rimes requires some occasional pauses for a greater effect. In fact, in all elegant poetical compositions, there is a pause or rest of the voice, and this is quite distinguishable. Of course, this pause may occur in different places of the verse and is shown strongly sometime by punctuation marks.

(a) The pause may occur at the end and is indicated by punctuation marks, as in the following verses

“Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,

Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.”


“He is gone on the mountain,

He is lost to the forest.”

– Scott

(b) In some cases, there is no punctuation mark at the end, but the break in the sense is indicated, though not so strongly.

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world

Like a Colossus……”


“What is he but a brute

Whose flesh hath soul to suit.”


(c) There may be a metrical pause in or near the middle. This occurs in a verse of four or more measures and is known as the Cesura (meaning ‘cutting off’)

Ring out the grief || that saps the mind.”


“Honour and shane || from no condition rise:

Act well your par ||, there all the honour lies”.

– Pope

“Of man’s first disobedience || and the fruit

Of that forbidden tree || whose mortal-taste

Brought death into the world.||”


N.B. The position of the Caesura is indicated by double vertical lines.

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