Gwendolyn Brooks

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How does Brooks's use of end rhyme and internal rhyme in "The Bean Eaters" contribute to the overall meaning of the poem?

Brooks's use of end rhyme and internal rhyme in "The Bean Eaters" emphasizes the unity of the old couple and the simple rhythm of their shared life.

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"The Bean Eaters" does not follow any formal scheme of rhyme and meter, but Brooks makes extensive use of rhyme over the course of its eleven lines. The end-rhymes follow the pattern aaba bcdc eff, meaning that the poem begins and ends with a couplet . This unusual arrangement...

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"The Bean Eaters" does not follow any formal scheme of rhyme and meter, but Brooks makes extensive use of rhyme over the course of its eleven lines. The end-rhymes follow the pattern aaba bcdc eff, meaning that the poem begins and ends with a couplet. This unusual arrangement emphasizes that the poem is about a couple, particularly as the first rhymed word is "pair." A rhyme is itself a pairing, and the pair described here are so inextricably linked that every statement the poet makes refers to both of them.

This point about the unity of the old couple is made again with the internal rhymes of the second stanza:

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day ...
The prominent rhyme of the consecutive words "Two who" suggests that the couple are always together, living in the same state and reacting in the same way.
The rhymes also establish a simple rhythm for the life of the couple "as they lean over the beans." The repeated sounds suggest a repetition of the same actions and even the same memories. The final rhyme of "twinges" with "fringes" counteracts the effect of the meter.
The last line is much longer than the others, suggesting that the objects enumerated may bring back memories that will take the old couple away from the present; but the strong feminine rhyme brings them back within the framework of their shared existence again.
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