Introduction to Rhyme 

Midge Goldberg


“We’ve moved beyond rhyme…,” “only Hallmark cards rhyme...,” “Nobody writes in rhyme anymore…”— I’ve heard every bad thing that can be said about writing rhyming poetry. It’s time to take back rhyme!

Rhyme in poetry can accomplish many things. With its innate ability to set up expectations for the ear, it can satisfy, disappoint, or “bring a poem home” just like a song. Nothing signals the conclusion of a sonnet like a well-written couplet. Rhyme can, of course, add humor. By being unexpected, it can shock. And when you’re pushed to find a rhyme, it can suddenly take your poem in a direction that you didn’t imagine, and yet takes it in exactly the direction the poem was meant to go.

The course will start with the basics of rhyme: the definition of a rhyme, masculine and feminine rhymes, slant rhymes, identicals.

We’ll then move on to examine rhyming forms—sonnets, villanelles, ballad stanzas, triolets, rap poems, and rhyme that can be found in any form (think Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess”). As in the meter class, the idea is to notice how a poet chooses a particular rhyme scheme or rhyming form to engender a particular mood or reaction. And even within the same form, the choice of rhymes affects the mood of the poem. Though rhyme is often associated with humor, some of the darkest moments in poetry are accomplished by using rhyme effectively (think Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”).

The class will be a combination of instruction, discussion, some in-class exercises, and a small assignment for the Saturday afternoon free writing time.

It’s time to rhyme!



Sponsored by the Trustees of the Robert Frost Farm and the Hyla Brook Poets