How can I assign a rhyme scheme to an Emily Dickinson poem?

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To demonstrate how to assign a rhyme scheme to any poem, let's take this one by Emily Dickinson (39):

I never lost as much but twice -

And that was in the sod.

Twice have I stood a beggar

Before the door of God!

Angels - twice descending

Reimbursed...

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To demonstrate how to assign a rhyme scheme to any poem, let's take this one by Emily Dickinson (39):

I never lost as much but twice -

And that was in the sod.

Twice have I stood a beggar

Before the door of God!

 

Angels - twice descending

Reimbursed my store -

Burglar! Banker - Father!

I am poor once more!

 

Begin with the first line of the poem and label it A. Now take the second line, and compare its last word with the last word of the first line. If it rhymes, label it A. If it doesn't, label it B. "Sod" does not rhyme with "twice," so we have AB so far. Now look at the third line. Does it rhyme with either of the previous lines? No, it does not, so it gets the next letter that hasn't been used yet--C. The fourth line rhymes with the second--"God" rhymes with "sod." So we assign it the same letter we gave that line, namely B. So far we have ABCB. Do the same thing in the second stanza, using the next available letters of the alphabet. "Descending" doesn't rhyme with anything we've had, so it gets D. "Store" gets E. "Father" gets F. And "more" rhymes with "store," so it gets the same letter "store" got, namely E.  Putting that all together, our rhyme scheme is ABCBDEFE. For a longer poem, you would just keep going, adding new letters if the word at the end of the line doesn't rhyme with any previous words, and assigning the same letter to any words that rhyme with a previous word. With Emily Dickinson, it is important to recognize "slant rhymes" or "near rhymes" as rhymes, as noted in one of the other answers. Words that you might not think rhyme, such as "noon" and "stone," or "port" and "chart" should be considered rhymes in Emily Dickinson's poems. 

 

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