Friday, 6 May 2011

To rhyme or not to rhyme.....

After my sad admission to being a failed songwriter (it's okay I can talk about it now!!) I'd like to move on to poetry rhyming schemes or even whether they matter.  When I first started writing poetry I rhymed virtually everything and some people say that if it doesn't rhyme it's not poetry. I, and many others, disagree.  I have been though a long period of writing 'free verse', which while it does not have rhyme endings to lines it does incorporate internal rhyme, alliteration, assonance and more. Even in free verse there is a sort of system if you want your poem to work. For a free verse example read 'The Wood Pigeons' elsewhere on this blog. There are many 'systems' in poetry writing and like any craft you can learn it. There are also many rhyming schemes but to keep things simple here is a basic one: a,b,a,b

a  The whilte fluffy cat
b  Slept by the kitchen door
a  On a brown fluffy mat
b  Licking is dirty paw

Here are two other slightly different examples based on a three line verse:
a  The white fluffy cat
a  Had a brown fluffy mat
b  To lay down on to sleep

a  The white fluffy cat
b  Had a bed by the table
b  Which wasn't very stable

(You will also notice that brown and down are internal rhymes)

Shakespeare is a good example to look at as his Sonnets rhyme (there is more than one type of Sonnet but here I am looking at the Shakespearean one). The rhyme scheme is a,b,a,b,c,d,c,d,e,f,e,f,g,g.
Once you have your rhyme scheme you carry on using it for the following verses.

Recently I have begun to revisit rhyming poetry and am writing a few of my own again. The structure of rhyming can be a great challenge and for me one way back into it has been to look at poems and write something similar keeping to the rhyme scheme the poet used. My margins are filled with words that rhyme with whatever word I used at the end of a line so I can structure what comes next. I have been pleasantly surprised with what I have written.

I cannot emphasise enough that in order to write poetry you must read widely, find poets you like and emulate them. Look at the poems, take them apart line by line, see what works, what structure is it and what rhyming scheme is used. I have a quick reference book called The Poet's Craft by Sandy Brownjohn (ISBN 0 340 80292 8). It is a small handbook of rhyme, metre and verse. It's well worth buying because as the advert says 'it does what it says on the tin' and uses examples from real poems to emphasise what is said.

Post your examples here but please bear in mind that if you are hoping to enter any work to magazines or compeitions do not submit them here first or you will disqualify your entry.  Only post things that are 'works in progress', things you know you will not want to send elsewhere or work that has been published first with which you still own the copyright. Some magazines will take previously published work (including online) you just have to check things out as different magazines/sites/compeitions have different rules!!

Happy rhyming!

1 comment:

  1. To take up the challenge to rhyme!

    Here is a poem I did as an excercise for a writing class: We were asked to play with rhyme, assonance, and alliteration. The poem is in sonnet form, a pattern I like. It is not meant to be taken seriously!

    My jewellery box (title)

    My jewellery box is jammed with gems
    Gifts from boyfriend, husband and friend.
    The trinkets twine like the twisting Thames,
    The length they'd be if laid end to end.

    Under the canopy the colours clamour,
    Gold like the flash from a parrot wing,
    Rubies red as blood spilled by the hammer,
    Silver so fine it made the smith sing.

    Emeralds from Africa, green as envy,
    Sapphires as blue as a summer sky,
    Diamonds like stars in a distant galaxy,
    Hard as my heart, whoever might try.

    Now I'm alone, I don't miss the attention.
    I'm just glad the gems are my pension.

    (By Alibren)