A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhyme between
lines of a poem or song. It is usually referred to by using letters to indicate which lines
rhyme; lines designated with the same letter all rhyme with each other. Therefore, it is
the pattern of end rhymes or lines. Thus its own associations and resonances to
cause a particular effect on the reader. A basic distinction is between rhyme schemes
that apply to a single stanza, and those that continue their pattern throughout an entire
poem. There are also more elaborate related forms, like the sestina – which requires repetition
of exact words in a complex pattern. In English, highly repetitive rhyme schemes
are unusual. English has more vowel sounds than Italian, for example, meaning that such
a scheme would be far more restrictive for an English writer than an Italian one – there
are fewer suitable words to match a given pattern. Even such schemes as the terza rima,
used by Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy, have been considered too difficult for English. Example rhyme schemes
Alternate rhyme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH… Ballade: Three stanzas of “ABABBCBC” followed
by “BCBC”. Chant royal: Five stanzas of “ababccddedE”
followed by either “ddedE” or “ccddedE”. Cinquain: “A,B,A,B,B”
Clerihew: “A,A,B,B” Couplet: “A,A”, but usually occurs as “A,A,
B,B C,C D,D …” McCarron Couplet: “AABBABCCDDCDEEFFEF” a contemporary
take on a classic rhyming pattern, introduced by the academic James McCarron.
Enclosed rhyme: “ABBA” “Fire and Ice” stanza: “ABAABCBCB” as used
in Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” Keatsian Ode: “ABABCDECDE” used in Keat’s
Ode on Indolence, Ode on a Grecian Urn, and Ode to a Nightingale.
Limerick: “AABBA” Monorhyme: “A,A,A,A,A…”, an identical rhyme
on every line, common in Latin and Arabic Ottava rima: “A,B,A,B,A,B,C,C”
The Raven stanza: “ABCBBB”, or “AA,B,CC,CB,B,B” when accounting for internal rhyme, as used
by Edgar Allan Poe in “The Raven” Rhyme royal: “ABABBCC”
Rondelet: “AbAabbA” Rubaiyat: “AABA”
Scottish stanza: “AAABAB”, as used by Robert Burns in works such as “To a Mouse”
Simple 4-line: “ABCB” Sonnet ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
Petrarchan sonnet: “ABBA ABBA CDE CDE” or “ABBA ABBA CDC DCD”
Shakespearean sonnet: “ABAB CDCD EFEF GG” Spenserian sonnet: “ABAB BCBC CDCD EE”
Onegin stanzas: “aBaBccDDeFFeGG” with the lowercase letters representing feminine rhymes
and the uppercase representing masculine rhymes, written in iambic tetrameter Sestina: ABCDEF FAEBDC CFDABE ECBFAD DEACFB
BDFECA, the seventh stanza is a tercet where line 1 has A in it but ends with D, line 2
has B in it but ends with E, line 3 has C in it but ends with F
Spenserian stanza: “ABABBCBCC” Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening form:
“AABA BBCB CCDC DDDD” a modified Ruba’i stanza used by Robert Frost for the eponymous poem.
Tanaga: traditional Tagalog tanaga is “AAAA” Terza rima: “ABA BCB CDC …”, ending on “YZY
Z”, “YZY ZZ”, or “YZY ZYZ”. Triplet: “AAA”, often repeating like the couplet.
The Road Not Taken stanza: “ABAAB” as used in Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, and
in Glæde over Danmark by Poul Martin Møller. Villanelle: A1bA2 abA1 abA2 abA1 abA2 abA1A2,
where A1 and A2 are lines repeated exactly which rhyme with the a lines.
Rhyme schemes in hip-hop music Hip-hop music and rapping’s rhyme schemes
include traditional schemes such as couplets, as well as forms specific to the genre, which
are broken down extensively in the books How to Rap and Book of Rhymes. Rhyme schemes used
in hip-hop music include – Couplets
Combinations of schemes Whole verse
Couplets are the most common type of rhyme scheme in old school rap and are still regularly
used, though complex rhyme schemes have progressively become more frequent. Rather than relying
on end rhymes, rap’s rhyme schemes can have rhymes placed anywhere in the bars of music
to create a structure. There can also be numerous rhythmic elements which all work together
in the same scheme – this is called internal rhyme in traditional poetry, though as rap’s
rhymes schemes can be anywhere in the bar, they could all be internal, so the term is
not always used. Rap verses can also employ ‘extra rhymes’, which do not structure the
verse like the main rhyme schemes, but which add to the overall sound of the verse.
The number of rhyme schemes The number of different possible rhyme schemes
for an n-line poem is given by the Bell numbers, which for n = 1, 2, 3, … are
1, 2, 5, 15, 52, 203, 877, 4140, 21147, 115975, ….
For instance, there are five different rhyme schemes for a three-line poem, ABC, AAB, ABA,
ABB, and AAA. Historically, the first exhaustive listing of rhyme schemes appears to be in
the Tale of Genji, an 11th-century Japanese novel whose chapters are headed by diagrams
representing the 52 rhyme schemes of a five-line poem. The number of rhyme schemes in which
all lines rhyme with at least one other line is given by the numbers
0, 1, 1, 4, 11, 41, 162, 715, 3425, 17722, ….
For instance the four such rhyme schemes for a four-line poem are AABB, ABAB, ABBA, and
AAAA. Both sequences of numbers may be found on either side of an augmented version of
the Bell triangle. References External links
Lingua::Rhyme::FindScheme — Perl module to find the rhyme scheme of a given text.