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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Placing rhymes

In traditional verse, rhymes usually take place at the end of a line and are, therefore, called end-rhyme in end-line rhyme position.  Poets use that pattern so often, we assume end-rhyme appeals to poetry readers too, but, despite its popularity, it does have its drawbacks. 

One problem can be a jingle-jangle effect that’s especially jarring when lines come to an abrupt halt. In light forms, such as limericks or other humorous verse, jingles can be effective, but in serious verse, heavy end-line rhymes can ruin a tone or mood.


To soften the jingle-jangle jolt of rhymes, try these techniques:


• Build up an echo, internally within the lines, by choosing words with similar vowel sounds.


• Let "liquids" flow in the consonants you select – for instance, rhymes containing l, m, n, r. (If you say those letters aloud, you'll hear their flow.)


• Drop the syllabic stress at the end of lines by using rhymes that have a down-beat or a last syllable without any emphasis.


• Try alliteration within the lines to soften the end-line rhyming sounds.


• Use enjambment.


For more on enjambment, see the previous post, “Enjambment and rhyme placement tone down jangling rhymes.”


For more on alliteration, see "Using Alliteration for Sound Echoes and for Fun."

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©2021, Mary Harwell Sayler, from her book, A Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry



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