August 20 Hilaire Belloc: The Hippopotamus; Brad Leithhauser: Trauma

So, I’m going to end rhyme time with an all out rhyme-extravaganza. Actually, I’m just finishing out the textbook’s (Introduciton to Poetry, 7th Ed., Kennedy) topic on it, but doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate it.

Rhyme, actually, in my mind, cause for celebration, because when it’s done well (to make the topic seem more significant) or in a fun way (I’m thinking a la ee cummings, Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss) it makes whatever your reading more fun, compelling and interesting. People often say that cartoons reach a more subconscious level of the viewer, I believe that rhyme reaches a more primal part of the reader. It seems to live where the origins of us live. I’ve watched kids use rhyme as a game that brings them many hours of joy. My friends and I used to spend hours trying to come up with as many rhymes as we could for the sentence, “there’s a rail on my tail.” Haiku was invented because of a poetry game, perhaps it was rhyming one. I’ve even heard stories about the ancient Norse people’s having rhyming poetry contests to make it through the long winter days when they had to hold up in their community halls (though their rhymes were alliterations; they used to see how many words they could use with the same first letter in the same sentence).

Today, I’m going to finish up rhyme with Consonance, End Rhyme, Internal Rhyme, Masculine Rhyme and Feminine Rhyme. This is a follow up from Alliteration, Assonance, Exact Rhyme and Slant Rhyme (which I won’t discuss, because I’ve already done so in former postings).

Consonance: this is a type of slant rhyme. This were words or phrases rhyme because they have the same consonant (or consonants), but not the same vowels. “Chitter” and “Chatter” are words with consonant rhyme. Other examples: “Milder” and “Malder”, “reader” and “rider”.

End Rhyme: This just means that the rhyme comes at the end of the line.

Internal Rhyme: In contrast, this means that the rhyme comes in the middle of the line.

Masculine Rhyme: This is more about where the reader emphasizes the word, if the rhymed words have multiple syllables, the emphasis is on the end of the word. But also If the rhymed words have one syllable they are considered masculine rhymes. So examples of words in this category are: “job” and “mob”, “di-VORCE” and “re-MORSE”, “sta-PLE” and “ma-PLE”. The book even suggests “horse” and “re-MORSE” are a masculine rhyme pair.

Feminine Rhyme: This is also about where the word is emphasized, but all feminine rhymes are two or more syllables, but the stress is on any syllable except for the last. “TUR-tle” and “FER-tile”. The book uses Byron’s rhyme of “in-tel-LECT-u-al” and “hen-PECKED-you-all”.  Anne Sexton rhymed “Scissors” with “His. Hers.” But Feminine Rhyme is hard to sustain without getting silly. Like this bit of poem from Thomas Hood’s “The Bridge of Sighs”

Still, for all slips of hers,
One of Eve’s family-
Wipe those poor lips of hers,
Oozing so clammily.

(Even the Sexton rhyme sounded kind of silly.)

So, in celebration of the silly, here’s a silly poem.

The Hippopotamus

by Hilaire Belloc

I shoot the Hippopotamus
with bullets made of platinum,
Because if I use leaden ones
his hide is sure to flatten ’em.

So there you have it, unless you want to count Eye Rhyme as a rhyme, but it’s kind of not, because it isn’t words that sound alike, it’s words that look alike. Those pairs are words like “rough” and “dough”, “idea” or “flea”, “Venus” and “menus”. I suppose if you want to get technical, they’re rhymes, but I don’t, so, for me, they’re not.

I also noticed that on the “Eye Rhyme” entry on Wikipedia it is mentioned that some medieval poems have eye rhymes now not because the words didn’t sound the same at the time they were written, but because English pronunciation has changed. They no longer sound the same any more, so they became accidental eye rhymes. Some examples of old English words that used to rhyme are “same” and “psalm”, “feet” and “fate”, “wipe” and “weep”. Even in one of my favorite poems “The Tiger” by William Blake, there is a sort of accidental eye rhyme perhaps because of his dialect. “What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” (Everybody in our class thought it was because he’s Scottish. Though I suppose we should have just done our homework and looked it up.)

Here’s a more serious poem that has examples of end rhymes. For some reason the editor of the textbook used this as the example for an eye rhyme, but in all honesty, the words look alike, because, well, they are alike – they rhyme. Who knows. But it is a nice reminder that rhyme can also serve a serious poem as well (and it can be more memorable for it). And there’s something about the rhyme that makes the pain carried in the poem feel more powerful and more true. Every time I read it, I nod and say, “too true, too true.”


By Brad Leithhauser

You will carry this suture
Into the future.
The past never passes.
It simply amasses.

If one were to do an eye rhyme, might it go something like this?

The boat he had to row/and to the king he did bow

About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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