What Is A Perfect Rhyme In Poetry

Background Information

Rhyme is a form of artistry in poetry and literature that involves the matching of two or more words with a similar sound. Unlike general poetry, perfect rhyme matches the final syllables in two or more words – like “cat” and “hat”. In fact, perfect rhyme is sometimes referred to as true rhyme or full rhyme. In perfect rhyme, the sound of the final syllables of two words need to be exactly the same. This kind of rhyme is often used to create rhythm and beauty in poetry, to create a sense of closure or to add artistic flair.

Experts’ Perspective

According to Matthew T. Gibson, professor of Writing, Literature & Publishing at Emerson College, for a poetic line to contain a perfect rhyme, “The words must begin with different consonantal sounds, but in the same general semantic areas, and only their vowel sounds and the sound following them must be identical.” To explain this, he uses the example of “pain” and “gain” – even though they don’t have the same consonant beginning, they have the same ending vowel sounds plus a consonant following them.
Dr. Emma Gritt, a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Derby, adds that a perfect rhyme contrasts with an imperfect rhyme, which can make use of words like “friend” and “find,” because they have the same beginning consonants but a different vowel plus a different ending consonant. It can also refer to slant rhyme, which is where the words have an assonance or consonance, but not a full or perfect rhyme. This usually involves words with different endings or beginnings, which still sound similar enough to create a desired sound or atmosphere.

Data and Analysis

Perfect rhyme is often used in traditional poetry forms like the sonnet, villanelle or limerick. Many of the greatest works of poetry in the English language feature perfect rhyme. Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening” is a famous example. In each verse of the poem, the last two words are almost always a perfect rhyme. “Shine” and “mine”, “light” and “night”, “house” and “mouse” – each of these pairs exemplifies perfect rhyme.
Another fascinating example is A. A. Milne’s classic poem, “Four Feet”. This poem, which consists of four verses, is a perfect example of perfect rhymes. Each verse has a perfect rhyme at the end, with words like “hide” and “spied”, “dads” and “lads”, and “tale” and “pail”.
It’s interesting to note that perfect rhyme is not the only type of rhyme used in poetry. The sonnet, for instance, often features half rhymes and slant rhymes, which are two type of distorted, or less perfect, rhymes. Furthermore, many poets often take creative license with rhyme and use words with similar sounds, but not necessarily identical ones – as long as it adds to the meaning and effect of the poem.

Aesthetic Experimentation

Although it has been a staple of English poetry since the Middle Ages, many contemporary poets have broken new ground in their use of perfect rhyme. An example of this is the poetic form known as the Ghazal, which is a type of Persian poetry that dates back to the 7th century. Ghazals feature a repeating pattern of perfect rhyme, with each verse having a different pair of words that rhyme.
Furthermore, many modern poets reject the established rules of perfect rhyme, creating interesting and innovative effects in their works. Such experimental poetry often features near rhymes, or so-called “sloppy rhymes”, which involve words with vowel sounds that are similar, but slightly different. This approach is employed by many renowned contemporary poets, such as Seamus Heaney and John Ashbery, who often use near rhymes to create a more textured, diverse and varied soundscape.

Role in Readability and Interpretation

The use of perfect rhyme plays an important role in the readability of a poem or piece of literature. For example, a perfect rhyme can be used to create a rhythmic flow in the text, making it easier to read and understand. Furthermore, perfect rhyme can be used to emphasize certain words, thus bringing special emphasis to certain points in the text. In fact, many poets use perfect rhyme to add a layer of emphasis and impact to the overall poem.
Moreover, the use of perfect rhyme is also important in the interpretation of poems and literature. For example, a perfect rhyme can create a sense of closure at the end of a poem or verse, thus tying up the narrative or giving it a resolution. Similarly, in longer pieces of literature, perfect rhyme can be used to emphasize certain points or ideas and tie different sections of the text together.

Creative Liberaty of Verse

In addition to being used for emphasis and readability, perfect rhyme can also be used to add a layer of creativity to the text. For example, poems and literature that feature a lot of perfect rhyme often have a more lyrical quality, thus making the text more enjoyable to read. Furthermore, perfect rhyme can be used to create memorable phrases or powerful images that stand out in the reader’s mind.
Moreover, perfect rhyme can also be used as a way to play with language. Many modern poets, for example, make use of surprise rhymes, or unexpected pairs of words that share the same vowel sound but have different meanings. This technique adds a layer of creative flair to the poem and leaves readers with a sense of surprise.

Social Commentary of Rhyme

Perfect rhyme can also be used to make social, political or cultural commentary. For example, many poets, from Chaucer to Longfellow to Larkin, have used perfect rhyme to make scathing social commentary, often towards the government or a certain class of people. By using perfect rhyme to create an evocative and powerful narrative, they have been able to put a point across and make a statement.
Furthermore, perfect rhyme can also be used to explore complex themes or ideas, like life, death, love or loss. By using perfect rhyme, many poets have been able to explore these themes in a way that is both emotive and evocative. From John Donne to Dorothy Parker, many of the greatest works of poetry have used perfect rhyme to create multi-layered and powerful explorations of the human condition.

Emotional Tonality of Verse

Finally, perfect rhyme can also be used to create a desired emotional tone in a text. By using perfect rhyme, a poet can create a feeling of joy, sadness, optimism or despair in a text. Furthermore, by mixing perfect rhyme with imperfect or slant rhyme, a poet can create a complex and nuanced emotional landscape, conveying a range of different feelings and emotions.
From Shakespeare to Wordsworth, many of the most renowned poets have used perfect rhyme to express a range of emotions in their work. By combining perfect rhyme with other poetic devices, they have been able to evoke a range of powerful and moving effects.

Creative Departure of Flow

Perfect rhyme can also be used to break conventional rules of poetry and storytelling. For example, many poets have used perfect rhyme to create unexpected stories or to challenge accepted notions of narrative structure. By using perfect rhyme to create chaos or confusion, they have been able to explore metaphysical, political or philosophical issues in a unique and creative way.
From Charles Baudelaire to Jean-Paul Sartre, many of the greatest poets and writers have used perfect rhyme to create narratives that defy convention. By combining unexpected narrative shifts and lyrical rhymes, they have been able to create complex and compelling works of art that challenge the reader and open up new avenues of thought.

Rules of Perfect Rhyme in Present Day Poetry

In present-day poetry, the use of perfect rhyme may not be as strict as it was in the past. Many poets now use perfect rhymes combined with imperfect or slant rhymes to create a more nuanced sound. Furthermore, some poets also take creative liberties with perfect rhyme, using words that aren’t technically perfect rhymes, but still have a similar sound.
In addition, many popular songs also feature perfect rhymes. Hip-hop, for example, often uses perfect rhyme to create a rhythm and cadence that is both catchy and accessible. Furthermore, rap often contains perfect rhymes combined with slant rhymes or near rhymes, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the text.
Finally, the use of perfect rhyme in poetry and song has changed over time. In the past, perfect rhyme was often strictly observed, with poets adhering to its rules to create beautiful and evocative works of art. However, in the modern day, poets and songwriters often take creative liberties with perfect rhyme, creating works that break the boundaries of traditional rhyming.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

Leave a Comment