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Pararhyme

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Pararhyme

There are many different types of rhyme used in poetry. One of these is pararhyme; let's look at it in more detail.

Rhyme and pararhyme

Rhyme is when two words sound the same. Rhyming words either have identical vowels and final consonants in the final syllable, or have similar sounding vowels and consonants.

A pararhyme is a half-rhyme in which the rhyming words share an identical pattern of consonants but different vowels.

Pararhymes can occur between two or more lines, or as internal rhymes within a line of poetry. An example of pararhyme is 'hall' and 'hill'. Both have identical consonants (h-ll) but different vowel sounds (/hɔːl/ and /hɪl/).

Pararhyme was coined by Edmund Blunden to describe the concept of 'near rhyme'.

Here are some examples of pararhymes:
  • Black and block

  • Well and will

  • Gray and green

Pararhyme is often referred to as impartial or imperfect rhyme. Unlike perfect rhyme, the rhyming words in pararhyme do not share identical vowel sounds.

Feminine pararhymes

Feminine rhyme, or double rhyme, is the rhyming of two-syllable words.

Feminine pararhyme is a form of pararhyme in which two-syllable words share an identical pattern of consonants but different vowels. They may share one identical vowel sound but have one sound that differs (eg. butter and batter) or entirely different vowel sounds (torn up and turnip).

Examples of feminine pararhymes:

  • Drawer and dryer
  • Blindness and blandness
  • Lover and lever

Feminine pararhyme can also occur between multiple syllables in monosyllabic words. For example:

  • Come on and came in
  • Dole out and deal it
  • Torn up and turnip

Pararhyme Female sign StudySmarterFeminine pararhyme is when two-syllable words have identical consonant patterns. - Wikimedia Commons

Here is an example of some feminine pararhymes in poetry:

Seamus Heaney's 'The Strand at Lough Beg' (1979):

Along the road, a high, bare pilgrim's track

Where Sweeney fled before the bloodied heads,

Goat beards and dogs' eyes in a demon pack

Blazing out of the ground, snapping and squealing.

What blazed ahead of you? A fake road block?

The red lamp swing, the sudden brakes and stalling

Engine, voices, heads hooded and the cold-nosed gun?

'Squealing' and 'stalling' is not an example of a perfect feminine rhyme because the two words do not have identical vowel and consonant sounds after the first letter. However, they do have feminine pararhyme.

The two syllable words have identical beginning and final consonant sounds (sk-wee-ling) (st-all-ling), making this a feminine pararhyme.

Pararhymes vs. half-rhyme

It is crucial to establish the difference between a pararhyme and a half-rhyme to avoid confusion.

A half-rhyme occurs between two or more words that have identical final consonant sounds but different vowel sounds.

The difference between pararhyme and half-rhyme is that the words must have entirely identical consonant patterns to be a pararhyme, while only the final consonants must be identical in order to be a half-rhyme.

All pararhymes are half-rhymes, but not all half-rhymes are pararhymes.

  • Words that are pararhymes and therefore half-rhymes (the earlier examples):
    • Bl(a)ck and bl(o)ck

    • W(e)ll and w(i)ll

    • Gr(ai)n and gr(oa)n

    • Dr(aw)er and dr(y)er

  • Words that are half-rhymes but not pararhymes (final consonant sounds):
    • (B)l(a)ck and (c)l(o)ck

    • (We)ll and (ta)ll

    • (G)r(ai)n and (Sc)r(ee)n

    • (D)r(aw)er and (f)r(y)er

Here is an example of a half-rhyme in poetry that is not a pararhyme:

Ted Hughes, 'Snowdrop' (1960):

Now is the globe shrunk tight

Round the mouse's dulled wintering heart.

Weasel and crow, as if moulded in brass,

Move through an outer darkness

Not in their right minds,

with the other deaths.

She, too, pursues her ends, [...]

The half rhymes here occur between the final word of each line (tight-heart, brass-darkness, minds-ends).

When you read these words aloud you get the sense that these words almost rhyme but not quite - this is because they share final syllables. For example, 'darkness' and 'brass' have different vowel sounds but identical 'r' and 'ss' consonant sounds, which make the words sonically similar despite not perfectly rhyming.

If the rhyme in the final two lines was between 'minds' and 'mends', this would be a pararhyme. However, because only the final 'nds' consonant sounds are identical and there is no initial identical consonant sound, this is just a half-rhyme.

Here is an example of a half-rhyme in poetry that is also a pararhyme:

Emily Dickinson, 'Poem 744/Remorse is Memory Awake' (1891):

Remorse is cureless, — the Disease

Not even God — can heal;

For 'tis His institution — and

The Adequate of Hell

The rhyming words, 'heal' and 'hell', have identical consonant patterns and only their vowel sounds differ (h-ee-l and h-eh-l). If the first letter of either word changed, for example the rhyming words were 'heal' and 'tell', then this would be a half-rhyme instead of a pararhyme because only the final consonant sound is identical.

The pararhyme between 'heal' and 'hell' adds weight to the intentions of Dickinson's words. A dichotomy is painted between the feelings of purity that words like 'God' and 'heal' evoke, and the feelings of impurity evoked by 'disease' and 'Hell'. The pararhyme reinforces the contrast Dickinson establishes between the ideas of purity and impurity in order to conceptualise 'remorse' to the listener/reader.

A dichotomy is a contrast between two things that are completely different.

Examples of pararhymes in poems

Let's explore the use of pararhymes in poetry and the effect pararhymes have on a listener or reader's interpretation of a poem.

The most famous example of pararhyme in poetry is arguably seen in Wilfred Owen's, 'Strange Meeting' (1919). This poem describes the atrocities of World War I in incredibly vivid detail, using the imperfect nature of pararhymes to reinforce the destructive nature of war.

Pararhyme, war and destruction, StudySmarterOwen used pararhyme in his poem Strange Meeting. - pixabay.com

Some of the pararhymes throughout the poem: escaped/scooped, groaned/groined, bestirred/stared, hall/hell, grained/ground, moan/mourn, years/yours, wild/world, hair/here, laughed/left...

Pararhyme in Exposure

Let's analyse the pararhymes in another Owen poem to establish the possible reason for Owen's use of this type of rhyme. 'Exposure' (1918) describes the agonisingly long wait soldiers endured in the trenches during World War I. The waiting is described in a way that makes the environment feel lively and active, despite the relative calm in the lulls between periods of active warfare.

Wilfred Owen's 'Exposure' (1918):

Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us . . .
Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent . . .
Low drooping flares confuse our memory of the salient . . .
Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,
But nothing happens.

Here, each end rhyme is a feminine pararhyme. Owen here rhymes 'Knive us' (n-y-v uh-s) with 'nervous' (n-er-v-uh-s) and 'silent' (s-y-l-ent) with 'salient' (s-ay-l-ee-ent). Both sets of words have identical initial and final consonant sounds, and the slight word variation here arguably leaves the listener/reader with an unsettled feeling. The imperfect pararhymes reflect the tension and distress of war which the poet conveys to his audience.

Pararhyme, Wilfred Owen, Study SmarterWilfred Owen used pararhyme in his WW1 poem Exposure to describe the soldier's conditions in the trenches. - pixabay.com

Owen makes frequent use of pararhyme. This is arguably because pararhymes add to the vivid imagery he uses to depict war. Imperfect rhyme, such as pararhyme, are potentially more useful than perfect rhyme, which is typically a more sonorous form of rhyme.

Pararhyme poem examples

Robert Graves' 'In Dedication [To the White Goddess]' (1948):

All saints revile her, and all sober men Ruled by the God Apollo's golden mean - In scorn of which I sailed to find her In distant regions likeliest to hold her Whom I desired above all things to know, Sister of the mirage and echo.

Here, the pararhyme is between the last word of the first two lines 'men' and 'mean'. The vowel sound in 'men' (m-eh-n) is emphasised in 'mean' (m-ee-n). The words are so sonically similar that in this case pararhyme almost mimics the effect of repetition. This is reinforced by the case of actual repetition between lines 3 and 4 that follow.

The poem is dramatic, and the pararhyme draws attention to this by emphasising the divinity of the goddess Graves describes. The pararhyme's reinforcement of 'men' seems to present a dichotomy between how masculinity is presented in the poem and how femininity is presented in divinity.

Emily Dickinson 'Poem 889/Crisis Is A Hair' (1945):

Crisis is a hair

Toward which the forces creep

Past which forces retrograde

If it come in sleep

[...]

It may jolt the hand

That adjusts the hair

That secures Eternity

From presentins Here

Dickinson pararhymes 'hair' and 'here' in this poem, where 'a hair' is a metaphor for 'crisis'. This minor word variation reinforces the alliteration used to end lines 1, 3, and 4 of the final stanza. There is a sense of fluidity felt as each line leads to the next; the pararhyme connects the title of the poem (the beginning) to the final line of the poem, creating a sense of completion. In other words, this adds a cyclical narrative to the poem.

Why use pararhyme?

We use pararhyme in poetry for many of the reasons we use other forms of rhyme. One might use it to:

  • Reflect the feelings a poet wants to evoke in the listener/reader.
  • Emphasise a particular line of poetry.
  • Create a sense of fluidity throughout the poem.
  • Add a cyclical narrative to a poem.

Pararhyme - Key takeaways

  • A pararhyme is a half-rhyme in which the rhyming words share an identical pattern of consonants but different vowels.
  • Pararhymes can occur between two or more lines, or as internal rhymes within a line of poetry.
  • The difference between pararhyme and half-rhyme is that the words must have entirely identical consonant patterns to be a pararhyme, while only the final consonants must be identical in order to be a half-rhyme.
  • One might use it to: Reflect the feelings a poet wants to evoke in the listener / reader, emphasise a particular line of poetry, create a sense of fluidity throughout the poem, or add a cyclical narrative to the poem.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pararhyme

No. To be a pararhyme the words must have entirely identical consonant patterns. To be a half rhyme only the final consonants must be identical. All pararhymes are half-rhymes, but not all half-rhymes are pararhymes.

A pararhyme is a half-rhyme in which the rhyming words share an identical pattern of consonants but different vowels. (hall and hill, drawer and dryer)

Pararhyme is when the rhyming words share identical consonant patterns but have different vowels.

When pararhyme is used in a poem, it can create the effect of a cyclical narrative and add flow to the poem. It also gives the effect of emphasising particular lines or phrases of a poem so that they stand out to the reader.

Pararhyme is used to reflect the feelings of a poet, to create emphasis of a particular line, to create fluidity, or to add a cyclical narrative to a poem.

Final Pararhyme Quiz

Question

Which of these is not a pararhyme

Show answer

Answer

Block and black

Show question

Question

True or False: All half-rhymes are pararhymes.

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Answer

False - all pararhymes are half rhymes, but many half rhymes are not pararhymes.

Show question

Question

Fill in the blanks: The difference between pararhyme and half-rhyme is that the words must have ______ identical consonant patterns to be a pararhyme, while only the _____ consonants must be identical in order to be a half-rhyme.  

Show answer

Answer

entirely; final

Show question

Question

Is 'black' and 'clock' a pararhyme or a half-rhyme? Why?

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Answer

It is a half-rhyme, only the final consonants are identical.

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Question

Which of these is a half-rhyme, but not a pararhyme?

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Answer

Block and Clock

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Question

Point out the pararhymes in these lines from Owen's 'Strange Meetings':


And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.

“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.” 

“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,

The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,

 

Show answer

Answer

'moan' and 'mourn'; 'years' and 'yours'

Show question

Question

Is pararhyme a type of imperfect rhyme or perfect rhyme?

Show answer

Answer

Imperfect rhyme.

Show question

Question

Fill in the blanks: _______ rhyme is when two syllable words have identical consonant patterns.

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Answer

Feminine pararhyme.

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Question

What is the difference between double rhyme and feminine pararhyme?

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Answer

Double/Feminine rhyme is the rhyming of two-syllable words. Feminine pararhyme is when two-syllable words share identical consonant patterns.

Show question

Question

Which of these is feminine pararhyme?

Show answer

Answer

Lover and liver

Show question

Question

Decipher which of these is pararhyme, feminine pararhyme, and feminine rhyme:


Came in and Come on

Clipping and Slipping

Water and Waiter


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Answer

Came in and Come on - feminine pararhyme

Clipping and Slipping -feminine rhyme

Water and Waiter - pararhyme

Show question

Question

What word is defined as 'a half-rhyme in which the rhyming words share an identical pattern of consonants but different vowels.'

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Answer

Pararhyme.

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Question

Fill in the blanks: A ________ occurs between two or more words that have identical final consonant sounds but different vowel sounds.

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Answer

A half-rhyme occurs between two or more words that have identical final consonant sounds but different vowel sounds.

Show question

Question

John the poet tells Jane that half-rhymes are pararhymes. Is he right or wrong?

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Answer

John is wrong - pararhymes are a form of half-rhyme, but not all half-rhymes are pararhymes.

Show question

Question

Why are 'blindness and blandness' and 'dole out' and 'dial it' both examples of feminine pararhyme?

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Answer

They are both examples of feminine pararhyme because feminine pararhyme can occur between duo-syllabic words or between multiple syllables on monosyllabic words. 

Show question

Question

What is an example of pararhyme in poetry?

Show answer

Answer

An example of pararhyme in poetry can be seen between 'heal' and 'hell' in Emily Dickinson's 'Poem 744':

Remorse is cureless — the Disease
Not even God — can heal 
For ’tis His institution — and
The Adequate of Hell — 

Show question

Question

What is a pararhyme?

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Answer

A pararhyme is a half-rhyme where words share the same consonant patterns but have different vowels.

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Question

Where can pararhyme occur?

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Answer

Between two or more lines or as internal rhymes within a single line.

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Question

What is another name for pararhyme?

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Answer

Imperfect rhyme

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Question

Why is pararhyme not perfect rhyme?

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Answer

Because the vowels in pararhyme are not the same. Vowels in the final syllable of words have to be the same for words to have perfect rhyme.

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Question

What is feminine rhyme?

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Answer

Feminine rhyme occurs when two-syllable words rhyme.

Show question

Question

Can feminine rhyme also be pararhyme?

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Answer

Yes

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Question

True or false: All pararhymes are half rhymes, but not all half-rhymes are pararhymes.

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Answer

True

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Question

Which of these word pairs is not an example of a pararhyme?

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Answer

laughed / shaft

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Question

True or false: pararhyme can be used to emphasise particualar lines of poetry?

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Answer

True

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