What is a Rhyme Scheme?

Did you know plants respond to the sounds of our voices? Sounds like an opportunity to read your poetry aloud! (Talking to Plants)

Hello Word Crafters! As I continue to introduce more syllabic poetry forms featuring an end rhyming scheme, I thought we would discuss what an end rhyme scheme is. Here is a quick definition:

A rhyme scheme is the pattern of sound found at the end of lines. These rhyme schemes are given a letter, usually beginning with the letter A.

A four-line poem with a rhyme scheme is something like this:

The first line rhymes with the third line, and the second line rhymes with the fourth line. The rhyme scheme is ABAB.

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
Shakespeare is dead?
I had no clue.

Let’s use the Abhanga syllabic form as an example. The Abhanga is written in any number of four-line verses. The syllable count is 6/6/6/4 per stanza.

In this form, only L2 and L3 rhyme. Often, the letter x, is used to denote an unrhymed end word. This rhyme scheme is:

xaax, x = unrhymed.

magic is found within 
breathe deep into your core 
open your heart and soar 
find inner peace 

©2021 Colleen M. Chesebro

We use rhymes in all different kinds of poetry. They aren’t always used in patterns or at the end of lines, which means not all rhyming poetry has a rhyme scheme.

We only use rhyme schemes for poems that use end rhyme—which is rhymes at the end of lines.

Litcharts.com has an excellent discussion of end rhyme schemes you can read HERE.

Other Types of Rhyme Schemes

Alternate rhyme is ABAB CDCD EFEF used in ballads.

Coupled rhyme schemes occur in pairs like AABBCC. The rhymes are called couplets.

Momorhyme use one rhyme through the poem like AAAA.

Sandwich rhyme schemes are like ABA or ABBA.

Chain rhyme is where stanzas are linked together by rhymes that carry over from one stanza to the next, like ABA BCB CDC.

That’s just a few of the different rhyme schemes. For now, we will continue to work with the Abhanga syllabic form until I find a few more forms to share and experiment with. If you find an interesting syllabic form with a rhyme scheme, link to this post and I’ll check it out! Thanks.

More interesting poetry facts from hubspages:

  • With free verse poetry, you refrain from using a specific pattern of rhyme or meter.
  • With freestyle poetry, you don’t have a formatted style or pattern, but you use rhyme most of the time and therefore create a catchy beat with your words, similar to rap.
  • With traditional poetry, there is usually a specific meter, rhyme scheme, syllable count, style, or form that you have to follow. This type of poetry is usually harder to write than free verse or freestyle poetry.

Types of Traditional Poetry

Traditional poetry comprises many forms and styles that have a specific format and a specific set of rules that must be followed. Some of the popular and more known forms of poetry include Shakespearean sonnet, villanelle, haiku, and senryu.

Out of these four forms of poetry, a villanelle is probably the hardest to write. It has the most number of lines, has more than one stanza, is written in iambic pentameter, has a repeating rhyme scheme, and repeating lines.

Unless you’ve been writing villanelles on a regular basis, it is very unlikely that your first villanelle will come with ease and become a masterpiece. But don’t worry about that. Practice makes perfect. The more villanelles you write the better you get at writing and mastering them. (end quote)

Who’s ready to write some syllabic poetry?

27 thoughts on “What is a Rhyme Scheme?”

      1. Yes, I would be spending hours with the thesaurus rejecting all of the words that rhyme with the word that needs to have a rhyme because meaning, connotation, and/or sound aren’t right.

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    1. Well, these are rhyme schemes that you can try on your own. I’ll find some more syllabic forms that use some of these rhyme schemes for our challenge. I’ll have another form this week. ❤️

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  1. A wonderful lesson for those who sometimes use rhyming and didn’t even know there was special names for such.
    Going to copy and paste this info into a document that I can print to reference with ease!!!


    (Oh we are expecting 3-5 inches of fluff which just started a few moments ago. I haven’t looked a the weather pattern to see where it came from or where it is going… so just stay safe and warm!)

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    1. Thanks, Jules. I’ve got a couple more forms up my sleeve. These rhyming schemes can make a difference in our poetry. It certainly challenges us in syllabic poetry to find the perfect word to rhyme with meaning. It’s windy here! 35 F and all the snow is melting. It’s a slushy mess! ❄️❤️

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      1. Oops. Thanks for correcting that, Colleen:) I haven’t really rhymed in years, but lately, I’ve been studying lyrics and paying attention to the flow and rhyming of songs while listening to them while exercising.

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        1. And tanka poems were considered songs to the Japanese when they first began writing them. The rhyme schemes are fun but make writing the syllabic forms quite a challenge. I want to add a couple for the more advanced poets to keep them engaged. ❤

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