Internal Rhyme

Could you spare a moment of your time for us to chime in about sublime internal rhyme? (the rhymes we'll be looking at aren't all as bad as this, promise).

Internal Rhyme Internal Rhyme

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    Ever wonder why your favourite song is so catchy, why that work of poetry rolls off the tongue, and what makes that rapper's verses so melodic? Chances are, internal rhyming has something to do with it. We're often more familiar with end rhymes (where the final words in lines of poetry rhyme) than we are with internal rhymes. Internal rhymes often fly under the radar, discreetly making a poem more musical without us noticing. We're here to change this. By the end of this lesson, you'll have all the inside knowledge of inside rhymes, and you'll be noticing them in all of your favourite songs!

    Let's start by looking at the meaning of internal rhyme, exploring the three main types of internal rhyme, and then looking at some examples of internal rhyme to explain why it's so effective.

    Meaning of internal rhyme

    Let's start with a simple definition of internal rhyme:

    Internal rhyme (also known as 'middle rhyme') is a type of rhyme that occurs in the middle of lines of poetry. In contrast, rhymes that appear as the final word in two lines of poetry are known as end rhymes.

    Here's a simple example of internal rhyme:

    Walking into that cave at night

    I knew I had to brave the dark.

    As you can see, the rhyming words in this couplet ('cave'/'brave') are in the middle of the lines. In contrast, a couplet with an end rhyme might look this:

    Walking into that cave

    I knew I had to be brave.

    An internal rhyme can take place across multiple lines, or it can be contained within a single line. Let's look in more detail at the different variations of the technique.

    Types of internal rhyme

    There are three common variations of internal rhyme. Let's define each and look at some quick examples to aid our understanding.

    Same line

    Internal rhyme can occur within the same line of a poem:

    I felt a great deal of pain coming from the sprain in my ankle.

    Separate lines

    It's also possible for internal rhyme to be spread across multiple lines:

    I felt a great deal of pain coming

    from the sprain in my ankle.

    End/middle of a line

    Internal rhyme can also take place between the end of one line and the middle of the following line:

    I felt a great deal of pain

    coming from the sprain in my ankle.

    You'll notice that all three verses are made up of the same sentence. This tells us that we can reposition the same rhyme into numerous configurations simply based on how we arrange the lines. Each time a poet ends a line, we refer to this as a line break.

    A line break is where a poet chooses to end one line of a poem and begin the next.

    By using line breaks, poets can completely change both the position of a rhyme and the layout of the verse as a whole. We could even make the above verse an example of end rhymes by placing line breaks after both 'pain' and 'sprain':

    I felt a great deal of pain

    coming from the sprain

    in my ankle.


    Remember! Changing between variants of internal and end rhyme can hugely impact a poem's structure, rhythm and meter. Just because it's easy to change where the line break falls in a poem doesn't mean it doesn't matter where we place it.

    Let's look in more detail at the impact of internal rhyme, how it compares to end rhyme, and why a poet may choose to employ a specific rhyming scheme for effect within their poetry.

    Internal Rhyme Coffee and Poems StudySmarterFig 1. - A poet may choose to employ a specific rhyming scheme to create different effects.

    Internal rhyme: effect

    How rhymes are structured can significantly impact how we read poetry, and the difference between end rhymes and internal rhyming is especially significant. This is partly because we naturally emphasise the last word of every line, so end rhymes can be much more recognisable than internal rhymes, which can sometimes go completely unnoticed.

    Let's return to two examples from before:

    I felt a great deal of pain coming from the sprain in my ankle.

    I felt a great deal of pain

    coming from the sprain

    in my ankle.

    Read each verse aloud. Notice how much more you emphasise the rhymes when they are placed at the end of the line, rather than in the middle? You may also comment that the second example with end rhymes has a more distinct rhythmic quality to it. This is because the structure of the poem gives us clues about which words to accentuate and where to take pauses.

    On the other hand, internal rhymes make a poem more rhythmic, beautiful to read, and easier to comprehend without us ever realising it. Modern poetry favours internal rhyme over end rhyme because its musicality is more discreet. This means that a poem can have a distinctly rhythmic quality without the inclusion of rhymes seeming forced or over the top.

    Remember! Sometimes internal rhymes are subtle because they aren't perfect rhymes.

    In a perfect rhyme, the main vowel sound and subsequent syllables sound exactly the same. For example: 'stave' and 'grave', 'clicked' and 'flicked', or 'trouble' and 'bubble'.

    However, remember that a rhyme doesn't have to be perfect for it to be beautiful; imperfect rhymes are important too!

    Imperfect rhymes are rhymes that are formed by similar but not completely identical sounds. Usually, the consonants differ while the vowel sound remains the same, or vice versa.

    Words like 'teen' and 'regime', 'fan' and 'ham', 'leave' and 'love' all share some similar characteristics that give them a rhythmic quality while still being distinct from one another.

    Examples of internal rhyme

    Let's explore some prominent examples of internal rhyme within poetry.

    'The Cloud'

    Percy Bysshe Shelley's 'The Cloud' (1820) contains some wonderful examples of internal rhyme:

    I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,

    From the seas and the streams;

    I bear light shade for the leaves when laid

    In their noonday dreams.

    In this poem, Shelley personifies a cloud, following it on its journey as it provides water for flowers and shade for leaves. The poem has a light-hearted feel to it, owing partly to the internal rhyming, which makes the verses feel joyous and whimsical. Notice how Shelley also imperfectly rhymes 'seas' and 'streams'; the effectiveness of this tells us that a rhyme doesn't need to be perfect for it to be successful.

    'The Raven'

    Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven' (1845) is filled with internal rhyming. Here's an excerpt of the first stanza:

    'Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

    "’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

    Only this and nothing more."'

    'The Raven' follows two different internal rhyme schemes. The first line of each stanza has an internal rhyme, 'weary'/'dreary') and then lines three, four, and occasionally five have internal rhymes spread throughout them. As Poe writes in an unusually lengthy trochaic octameter (that's sixteen syllables per line!), the internal rhyme is essential to the poem's rhythmic quality.

    'The Chimney Sweeper'

    For a lesson in subtlety when it comes to internal rhyme, look no further than William Blake's 'The Chimney Sweeper' (1789):

    When my mother died I was very young,And my father sold me while yet my tongueCould scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!"So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

    You'll first pick up on the internal rhyming between 'weep', 'sweep' and 'sleep' in this stanza. The repetition of this rhyme pattern in the final two lines makes the poem feel urgent, as though the chimney sweep is crying out in desperation. Harder to notice is the repetition of the 'I' sound replicated across 'my', 'died', 'while' and 'cry'. At first glance, these words have very little in common, but when read aloud, they cleverly combine to make the poem sound more melodic. Try it for yourself!

    Internal rhyme: poems

    For further reading, here are some more poems and plays that contain excellent examples of internal rhyming.

    AuthorLiterary WorkPublication Date
    Edgar Allan Poe'Annabel Lee'1849
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'1798
    Rudyard Kipling'Pink Dominoes'1886
    W.S GilbertPatience1881
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning'How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)'1850
    Wallace Stevens'Anecdote of the Jar'1919

    Internal Rhyme - Key takeaways

    • Internal rhyme (also known as 'middle rhyme') is a type of rhyme that occurs in the middle of lines of poetry.
    • Internal rhyme can occur within one line or spread across multiple lines.
    • Whether a poem contains internal rhyme or end rhyme depends entirely on where the poet places their line break.
    • Internal rhymes are rhythmic without being too obvious; their effectiveness lies in their subtlety.
    • Some examples of poems containing internal rhyme are Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven' (1845), Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' (1798), and Percy Bysshe Shelley's 'The Cloud' (1820).
    Frequently Asked Questions about Internal Rhyme

    What is internal rhyme?

    Internal rhyme (also known as 'middle rhyme') is a type of rhyme that occurs in the middle of lines of poetry. In contrast, rhymes that appear as the final word in two lines of poetry are known as end rhymes.

    What is an example of internal rhyme?

    'I felt a great deal of pain coming from the sprain in my ankle'.

    What are the three types of internal rhyme? 

    The three main types of internal rhyme are:

    - Internal rhymes in the same line

    - Internal rhymes spread across multiple lines.

    - An end rhyme followed by a middle rhyme.

    What is internal rhyme used for? 

    Internal rhyme is used to give a verse subtle rhythm and melody.

    How is internal rhyme different from end rhyme? 

    It occurs in the middle of poetry. In contrast, end rhymes appear as the final word in two lines of poetry.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What is internal rhyme also known as?

    An internal rhyme can only take place across multiple lines. Is this true or false?

    How many types of internal rhyme are there?

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