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Rhyme Scheme

Aug 30, 2022

Read the following stanza from a poem: 

We come from haunts of coot and hern, 

We make a sudden sally, 

And sparkle out among the fern, 

To bicker down a valley. 

-The Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson 


You must have read the poem out loud, right?  

While doing so, did you hear yourself repeating some patterns at the end of the lines like hern-fern andsally-valley

What do we call these patterns? 

Well, these patterns called the rhyme schemes will be our main topic of discussion in today’s session. 

Without further ado, let’s have a quick look at it. 


A rhyme scheme is a sound pattern that repeats at the end of a line or stanza. Rhyme schemes can change from line to line, stanza to stanza, or throughout a poem. Poems with rhyme schemes are typically written in formal verse with a strict meter: a repeating pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. 

Rhyme scheme patterns can be formatted in a variety of ways. Letters of the alphabet are used to encode the patterns. Lines beginning with the same letter rhyme with one another. For examplethe rhyme scheme ABAB means that the first and third lines of a stanza, or the ‘As,’ rhyme with each other, and the second and fourth lines, or the ‘Bs,’ rhyme together.  


Of the night that covers me,(A) 

Black as the pit from pole,(B) 

I thank whatever gods may be (A) 

For my unconquerable soul. (B) 

-Invictus by William Ernest Henley 

Some types of poems are distinguished by specific rhyme schemes and fixed verses. A Shakespearean sonnet, for example, is a fourteen-line poem with three four-line stanzas, called the quatrains  and a concluding couplet, which is a two-line stanza. The sonnet rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. A Shakespearean sonnet’s rhyme scheme and verse structure are unique. 


I compare thee to a summer’s day

Thou art lovely and more temperate

Rough winds move the dearest buds of May

And summer’s lease acquire all too short a date

Times too hot the eye of paradise shines

And often is gold complexion dimmed

And every fair from fair times declines

By chance, or nature’s changing line, untrimmed

But thee eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose custody of that fair thou ow’st

Nor shall death boast thou wanderest in his shade

Then in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st

Very long as human can breathe, and eyes can see

Very long lives this, and this gives life to thee

The above example has followed the rhyme scheme, ABAB CDCD EFEF GG


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