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Passions in Poetry

Basics Of Rhyme

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turtle
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since 01-23-2009
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0 posted 02-16-2009 09:28 PM       View Profile for turtle   Email turtle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for turtle

Basics Of Rhyme

First I want to emphasize that I am not an expert. There are many other writers
that are much more versed in the mechanics of verse than I. If any of them feel that
I am mistaken in my humble attempt at assisting other novices to understand the
basics of rhymed verse in this rudimentary outline, please feel free to correct me.

Greeting card poetry is often the first choice of many new poets, I am no exception.
In their innocence they often rhyme without reason. This post is not intended to
criticize their efforts, but, out of laziness on my part, is intended as a brief and
basic explanation of the elements of rhyme, with links to web sites that explain
these elements in greater depth and detail. This is simply so that I don't have to
keep repeating myself and in the future can just refer to this post.

Here, I am merely going to cover the four basic elements of rhymed verse: form,
rhythm, rhyme and meter. There are many aspects of verse, syntax, grammar,
alliteration, simile, metaphor, etc. But these are tools used for all verse, including
rhymed and free verse.

Form is a basic predetermined structure ie., Sonnet, Ballad, Villanelle, etc. in
which line length, rhyme scheme, stanza form are preset and expected to be followed.
In addition many forms are intended to be used for specific types or moods of poems.
For example; if you wanted to write a love poem it might be best served to use a
Sonnet, or Ode format, or if you wanted to write something whimsical you might
want to use a Pantoum format.

Rhythm is one of the easier concepts to get one's mind around (At least for me).
This is a consistent beat in a poem (based on syllable count) that gives a
poem its rhythmic, song like quality, To explain this, here is an example of a
line in pentameter:

"Where scrub prairie grass rolls on bitter wind."
Where / scrub / prai / rie / grass / rolls / on bit /ter / wind."

The structure of a line, in structured verse, is based on the number of syllables
in a line and NOT the number of words. When you look at a line of poetry in these
terms, you'll find  it's easier to see whether or not it has a consistent rhythm.
What you want to strive for is a pattern that repeats in each stanza, or throughout
the poem. This might be an 8 syllable count stanza "tetrameter" (8,8,8,8,) for example,
or a 6 syllable count stanza, "trimeter" (6,6,6,6) or perhaps an alternating tetra/trimeter
(8,6,8,6) stanza etc. Most poems are broken up into "stanzas". A stanza is like a
paragraph. Several sentences that convey a complete thought with a space before
starting a new thought. This lets the reader know and understand that your thought/poem
is composed of a number of elements or ideas.

Rhyme, as well, is fairly straight forward, in that, there are 3 basic types.
Couplet rhyme, expressed as aabb, cross rhyme, abab, and envelope rhyme,
abba. To explain this,  look at the end rhymes in these stanzas:

"Your heart has never been all yours to own
It's posessed by the bleak blackness of dark
In adulthood now you stay always alone
In childhood the dark came and left its mark

Since giving me rations of love to eat
You have pushed me away strongly and well
I know now that I can never beat
What I cannot see, that you cannot tell"

"own" rhymes with "alone" and "dark" rhymes with "mark". Because "own" is the
first word to have a partner rhyme it is known as the "a" rhyme and because "dark"
is the second word to have a partner rhyme it is known as the "b" rhyme. So the
rhymes in the first four lines of this poem are expressed as "abab". In the fifth
line, (next stanza) "eat" rhymes with "beat", in the seventh line. Now, because "eat" does not rhyme
with "own" or "dark", then it is the third rhyme "c", if the fifth line had ended
in a word that rhymed with "own" however, it would again be an "a" rhyme, or if
the line had ended in a word that rhymed with "dark" it would be another "b' rhyme.
This continues on through the entire poem. So the rhyme scheme for the poem (excerpt
above) would be expressed as "abab cdcd". There are many variations on the basic
types however, and there are other elements at play such as syllable stress, which
determines whether a rhyme is "masculine" or Feminine", half rhyme, sight rhyme
etc.. Here is an example of the basic types of stanzaic rhyme schemes:

couplet rhyme(aabb)

Gimballed compass on Sheesum stand
Guides this heart to distant strand.
Little vessel, nautical friend,
Your prow pounds eastward into wind.

cross rhyme(abab)

You've heard the frightful tales once told
Around your candle's creamy white.
Goblins, ghouls, and ogres of old
Add haunting dreams to child's delight.

envelope rhyme(abba)

Darkness creeps as sunlight pales.
Hanker grows for August days.
Drivers lost in foggy haze.
On icy streets where siren wails.

Meter is a little more difficult to understand. It is based on what is
called a syllablic "foot". In iambic and trochee meter (The two most
commonly used, there are others) each "foot consists of a pair of adjoining
syllables. So Trimeter (6 syllables) has 3 feet. Tetrameter (8 syllables) has
4 feet. Pentameter (10 syllables) has 5 feet and so on. Each syllable has,
what is called a stress factor. Using the following line from a poem as an
example, this is how the unstressed (U) and stressed (S) syllables are arranged
in "iambic" tetrameter.

.U...... S... / ...U...... S....../..U.. ....S..../ .U... S
What pur / pose serves / this emp / ty pad

Or perhaps it would be easier to understand this as:

What purpose serves this empty pad

To explain this, if you take the first "foot" "What pur" and say it out loud
You should notice that you hear "pur" a little stronger than "What", therefore
The unstressed syllable in this foot is "What" and the stressed syllable is
"pur". Each "foot" is an independent entity and the syllable stress is not
influenced by the preceding or following "foot", but is determined, based
solely on the (In this case) two syllables in that foot weighed one against the
other. Now this can mean that a syllable stress on a word in a line might differ
if used in another line. For example:

The moonlight glows on farm and field

The farmer works by pale moonlight

In line 1 the stress is on "moon" and in line 2, the stress is on "light"
That is because the unstressed syllable of the first foot in line one is "the"
And the unstreased syllable in the last "foot" of line two is "moon"

Let me repeat this, this is important to understanding meter.

Each "foot" is an independent entity and the syllable stress is not
influenced by the preceding or following "foot", but is determined, based
solely on the (In this case) two syllables in that foot weighed one against the
other.


By now you may be asking yourself what is so important about all this
technical hogwash??? Go and read some longfellow, or Dickinson, or Tennyson,
or especially (The master of word play) Frost. See how they use these tools
in their writing. I think you might find that these are the elements in a poem
that really make them memorable to read and stay in your mind as a great and
life influencing treasure.

Links:

http://instructional1.calstatela.edu/tsteele/TSpage5/rands.html

   http://instructional1.calstatela.edu/tsteele/TSpage5/meter.html  

        
olijay
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since 03-01-2009
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1 posted 03-01-2009 07:32 PM       View Profile for olijay   Email olijay   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for olijay

I found this to be very informative and well written so it was easy for a novice like me to understand. thanks a bunch!
turtle
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since 01-23-2009
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2 posted 03-01-2009 07:45 PM       View Profile for turtle   Email turtle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for turtle

You're welcome sisko, and welcome to PIP.

Balladeer
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3 posted 03-01-2009 10:02 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

The poetry workshop has been hijacked by a turtle!!! (and happily so).

Good job, turtle. I'm sure many will be helped by these examples and instructions and that's what the workshop is all about.

Nicely done....and, when you can convince me that moonlight has the accent on the last syllable, I'll say EXCELLENTLY done!
turtle
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4 posted 03-02-2009 12:42 AM       View Profile for turtle   Email turtle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for turtle

Not hijacking the workshop Balladeer. This is your baby. I put the stress on "light" because it is the end syllable in the line Thus it carries both the stop and the rhyme for that line. It is probably me though I just stress "light" natually when I pronounce the word "moonlight".....Sort of like "Delight" I do believe though "moonlight" is a compond word and the stress is normally carried equally on the two syllables. I'll have to recheck.

If you want me to move this post out of here.....I guess I could put it in the alley.

Sorry Balladeer, I do recognize this as your forum and do not intend to intrude.

turtle
Balladeer
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5 posted 03-02-2009 01:18 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

No no no, my hardshelled friend. That was just my humorous way of saying....I like it!

Your entry is very welcome and, as I said, it may help many people learn from it. Don't go anywhere, please!

"moonlight" can be a touchy word. It can easily be considered a spondee or, to my way of thinking..

I love to watch the moonlight overhead

is perfect iambic.

On the other hand, the Beatles came out with a song MR. MOONLIGHT, where they placed the accent solely on the last syllable...so who am I to doubt a turtle or a beatle?  
turtle
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6 posted 03-02-2009 02:56 AM       View Profile for turtle   Email turtle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for turtle

Yes Balladeer you are correct. Thank you.

http://www2.nkfust.edu.tw/~emchen/Pron/stress.htm


For those that read this post I will find another example that is correct.
This does not change the meaning of what I'm saying though and the
position of the stress in the foot is the point.
turtle
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since 01-23-2009
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7 posted 03-02-2009 03:04 AM       View Profile for turtle   Email turtle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for turtle

Hey Balladeer

You know, I've been going back through the threads in CA and I found
where you just told these guys a few months ago, almost the same thing
about poetry forms I'm discussing with Brad in the alley.


......What the?

lol
Balladeer
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8 posted 03-02-2009 03:18 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Great minds think alike???
turtle
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9 posted 03-02-2009 03:57 AM       View Profile for turtle   Email turtle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for turtle

lol

God I hope not......

Maybe somebody is just not paying attention?...lol

Nan
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10 posted 03-02-2009 08:12 AM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

All this time I thought it was my baby..

Deer - Answer your mail!
Balladeer
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11 posted 03-02-2009 11:33 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Nan, I answered my mail two days ago. did you not receive my reply?
Bob K
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12 posted 03-02-2009 11:28 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K




Dear Turtle,

quote:


Rhythm is one of the easier concepts to get one's mind around (At least for me). This is a consistent beat in a poem (based on syllable count) that gives a poem its rhythmic, song like quality, To explain this, here is an example of a line in pentameter:

"Where scrub prairie grass rolls on bitter wind."
Where / scrub / prai / rie / grass / rolls / on bit /ter / wind."

The structure of a line, in structured verse, is based on the number of syllables
in a line and NOT the number of words.




     The line is not pentameter.  Pentameter does not refer to the number of syllables in a line.  There are ten syllables in this line, for example.  Pentameter refers to the number of feet in the line.

     There are a few ways of counting the number of feet in a line.  The traditional way, from Latin and Greek, was by weight of the vowel.  This is rarely done in English any more.  Robert Pinsky does an excellent little description of the ins and outs of the basics of this in his little book on basic craft, should you feel interested in exploring it.

     The classic languages and the romance languages, you see, were languages of flow, and the way that one syllable could be distinguished in terms of rhythm from another was by the fullness of the vowels used.  The classic distinction was between heavy and light vowels.  In French, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese and Spanish as well as Greek and Latin this is still a distinction they maintain today.  They will first, count the number of syllables and then determine the weight of each syllable and then determine how the syllables clump together.  

     In English, because we are a language with stresses, we have for the most part substituted stress for weight in looking at how we separate our feet into feet.  It is possible but very very rare for an English foot to have more than a single stressed syllable.  Usually these feet have two or three syllables.  Five of these feet together in a single verse compose a pentameter line.  The example that Turtle offers seems to have six stresses to my count and it would be a very difficult line to generate a solid regular rhythm with that would be recognizable as poetry.  It would and this is to my own ear, I confess break down swiftly into prose over two or three repetitions, and would be suitable for a poem probably only as a variant line given some fairly strongly patterned form that it works with.  Call me silly, I don't know.

     Ten syllables, yes.  Pentameter, probably not.  Perhaps

-   /         -    /         -    /          -    /        -      /
I wake/ to sleep/ but take/ my wak/ ing slow


which is from "The Waking,"  by Theodore Roethke.


Nosily enough, Bob Kaven
Bob K
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13 posted 03-02-2009 11:34 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



** duplicate entry **

[This message has been edited by Balladeer (03-03-2009 07:48 AM).]

turtle
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14 posted 03-03-2009 12:51 AM       View Profile for turtle   Email turtle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for turtle

Bob.........

You're repeating yourself again Bob

I don't know......

Quote:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The line is not pentameter. Pentameter does not refer to the number of syllables in a line.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Where / scrub / prai / rie / grass / rolls / on / bit /ter / wind."

Thank you for pointing out my typo Bob.
This will serve my pupose fine.

While merely trying to explain how to recognize the syllables in a line of
verse to someone who doesn't even know what meter is yet, I want to
keep it simple.

I have a thread in the Alley, please take this discussion there.

turtle


[This message has been edited by Ron (03-03-2009 10:35 AM).]

Balladeer
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15 posted 03-03-2009 07:56 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

I tend to agree. The Alley thread would be more appropriate for this type of exchange.

The workshop is a simpler world, where those interested in bettering their craft can come for tips on how to do so. Turtle has provided much information here which will help those interested in the basics. Debating here will only serve to confuse. It's not the appropriate place for it.
turtle
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16 posted 03-04-2009 12:04 AM       View Profile for turtle   Email turtle   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for turtle

Sorry folks I made a boo-boo when I wrote this.

ADDENDUM:


The convict marched in to the court.
The jury said we must convict.


In line 1 the stress is on "con" and in line 2, the stress is on "vict"
That is because the unstressed syllable of the first foot in line one is "the"
And the unstreased syllable in the last "foot" of line two is "con" and you
should hear the change in stress when you read the two lines.

[This message has been edited by turtle (03-05-2009 05:20 AM).]

Dr.Moose1
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17 posted 03-09-2009 01:52 PM       View Profile for Dr.Moose1   Email Dr.Moose1   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dr.Moose1

turtle,
Speaking of addendums, I apologize for my overly brief reply to your comments on the sestina I posted in open. I wrote a more detailed response should you care to revisit it.Thanks.
Doc
 
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