Arts & Culture

Poetry + Art: Rhyming Verse

It’s November, late fall, and we are well into the school year!  Hopefully, everyone has fallen into a bit of a rhythm.  Rhythm in poetry is often created by end rhyme, in which the last word of each line, or alternating lines, rhymes.  This pattern propels the reader through the poem.  When well crafted, rhythm in poetry seems effortless, like the synchronized steps of a beautiful dance.

 

Caterpillar

By Christina Rossetti

Brown and furry

Caterpillar in a hurry,

Take your walk

To the shady leaf, or stalk,

Or what not,

Which may be the chosen spot.

No toad spy you,

Hovering bird of prey pass by you;

Spin and die,

To live again a butterfly.

 

The above poem depicts the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.  Despite the structured end rhyme present, the poem’s lines seem a bit unbalanced.  This is intentional; short lines alternate with long lines to create a caterpillar-like rhythm with a wind up and release, mimicking an insect inching along.  The poet also correlates the emergence of the butterfly from the pupa to a resurrection in the last two lines, presenting readers with the opportunity to take their own interpretations of the poem to a more abstract level.

Every Heart’s a Hurricane

By Erin Hanson

Every heart’s a hurricane,

Each soul a starlit sea,

Every mind’s a meteor

Unbound by gravity.

And everybody’s wishing

They could learn to tame their tides,

When nothing more than nature

Is what’s echoing inside.

 

Every life’s a lighting bolt,

Yet everyone’s told no;

Bite back all your thunder

And don’t let the wild things show.

Every heart’s a hurricane,

Everyone’s a world within,

Every life too short for loathing

Any storms beneath your skin.

 

The above poem is an example of perfectly constructed rhyme, using an ABAB end rhyme scheme (alternate rhyming of lines).  This makes the poem very rhythmic and pleasant to read.  In addition, the poet makes use of two eight line stanzas (an octave) instead of the more common format involving four quatrains (four line stanzas).  This stylistic choice further influences the rhythm, creating a more smoothly intertwined and flowing poem.

Indoor Badminton

Red ball

Varnished hall

Pound the wall

Landfall

I wrote the above poem.  It was inspired by a game my family was playing, a badminton-like permutation of ping pong.  We used tiny rackets and a small red ball in a hallway of the house.  Every time the ball hit the wall, ceiling, or floor, sharp pinging noises would result.  In this poem, I adopted a sort of rhythmic onomatopoeia to mimic the sound pattern of the ball hitting surfaces.  Although it has an extremely simple rhythm, it is still an expressive poem.

 

Rhyming poetry is meant to sound effortless; consequently, one challenge of writing a good rhyming poem is ensuring that there are no forced rhymes.  Through this exploration of rhythm in poetry, I hope you have gained an appreciation for the hard work necessary for choreographing the beautiful dance that is rhyming poetry; the dancers have trained long and hard to make their dance seem easy and beautiful.

 

Now it’s your turn!  Write an original poem that features any end rhyme scheme on any topic and post it in the comments below.  Online rhyming dictionaries like Rhymezone can help!

Sources:

 

  1. “Quatrain.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 13 July 2017. <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/quatrain>

 

  1. “If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.” If you cannot be a poet, be the poem. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2017.  <http://thepoeticunderground.com>

 

2 Comments

  1. Great job Rachel! I like your poems.