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Bring out the rhyming words and scheme in the poem "If."

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aswetambari | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 26, 2009 at 10:45 AM via web

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Bring out the rhyming words and scheme in the poem "If."

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted July 26, 2009 at 11:13 AM (Answer #1)

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The general rhyme scheme found in each stanza of Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" is ababcdcd. (Now, if you had asked about the rhythm and meter, I would have mentioned that it is also written in iambic pentameter which is the language of Shakespeare.)  The only strange variation to this rhyme scheme is in the very first four lines because all of them rhyme (and therefore would be deemed aaaa).  Of course, whenever that same rhyming sound is used again, one must return to the original letter.  Therefore, the words "sinew" and "you" found in the third stanza still take on the letter a in the rhyme scheme.  In regards to rhyme scheme, each similar letter represents the same rhyming sound.  Here is the full poem with the letter pertaining to the rhyme scheme after it:

If you can keep your head when all about you         a
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;                  a                                    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,    a
But make allowance for their doubting too:             a
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,            b
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,                    c
Or being hated don't give way to hating,                b
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;        c

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master d
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,    e
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster               d
And treat those two impostors just the same:          e
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken       f
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,             g
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,    f
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;       g

If you can make one heap of all your winnings          h
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,                i
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,           h
And never breathe a word about your loss:              i
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew      a
To serve your turn long after they are gone,            j
And so hold on when there is nothing in you            a
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"         j

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,    a
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,    k
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,         a
If all men count with you, but none too much:        k
If you can fill the unforgiving minute                      l
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,             m
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,         l
And — which is more — you'll be a Man, my son!     m

Each word preceding each italicized letter of rhyme scheme will rhyme with another word beside the corresponding letter.  The most used letter (a) is, therefore, found beside the words you, you, you, too, sinew, you, virtue, and you.  All of those words, of course, rhyme.  (And, of course, any word rhymes with itself.)

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