Explain the rhyme scheme in "First Fight. Then Fiddle". Would be the poem equally effective if it did not include end rhyme? Why or why not?

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"First Fight Then Fiddle" is a poem written in 1949 by African American poet Gwendolyn Brooks . The poem is a traditional Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet. This means that it consists of fourteen lines and is divided into two parts, an eight-line octave and a six-line "sestet" with a "turn"...

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"First Fight Then Fiddle" is a poem written in 1949 by African American poet Gwendolyn Brooks. The poem is a traditional Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet. This means that it consists of fourteen lines and is divided into two parts, an eight-line octave and a six-line "sestet" with a "turn" or change of focus/subject between the two parts.

The octave consists of two "open quatrains"—that is, it would be marked ABBA ABBA. The sestet of a Petrarchan sonnet uses three rhyme sounds, with almost any arrangement permissible. In this case, the scheme is CDDCEE. By ending with a couplet, the poet chooses to emphasize a second turn with a crisp, epigrammatic style of conclusion similar to that of a Shakespearean sonnet.

The form of the poem suits the content, briefly stating its theme and then emphasizing the leisurely production of music in the octave, having a sharp turn toward fighting, and then resolving its tension with the conclusion that fighting creates the preconditions necessary for fiddling. Thus the form does make the logical structure of the poem clearer and makes the poem more effective.

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This poem takes the form of a sonnet, although not a typical sonnet.  It mixes both the Shakespearean sonnet and the Italian sonnet.  A Shakespearean sonnet's rhyme scheme is abab cdcd efef gg.  An Italian sonnet has an octet first, with the rhyme scheme abbaabba; then, the sextet can be any rhyme scheme but cannot end in a couplet.  As one can see, Brooks uses both sonnet forms in different ways.  One could say she bends and molds the sonnet forms to make her own.  eNotes states:

The rhyme scheme of the poem reflects the influence of the Shakespearean sonnet—three quatrains, abba, abba, cddc, followed by a rhyming couplet, ee. However, in the development of thought, it follows the Petrarchan model of structuring the poem in an octave—an eight line stanza—followed by a sestet—a six-line stanza. The first eight lines, after the initial imperatives, picture the lives of artists, and the next six lines advocate fighting the war against discrimination or tyranny in order to create an environment safe enough for nurturing art.

The poem needs the rhyming at the end for effect, so it is necessary.  Without it, the same effect wouldn't be achieved.

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