What is rhyme scheme?
A rhyme scheme is found in poetry (and in songs). It is a pattern of rhyme that is used, with similar sounds found at the end of lines grouped together.
[A rhyme scheme is] the pattern of end rhymes or lines. A rhyme scheme gives the scheme of the rhyme; a regular pattern of rhyming words in a poem (the end words).
The rhyme found at the end of lines can be seen in the following example from Shakespeare's Sonnet 29:
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Sounds are assigned letters. One sound is assigned an A; when a new sound at the end of a line is introduced, it is given a B. If a sound is repeated in two subsequent lines at the start of the poem, the duplicated sounds are shown as AA.
In a poem where the first and third lines rhyme and the second and fourth lines rhyme, it is "charted" as ABAB, also as seen in Sonnet 29:
When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
"Eyes" and "cries" rhyme, and "state" and "fate" rhyme—they have the same sound. This is a popular rhyme scheme—charted, as mentioned, as ABAB.
Another popular rhyme scheme is seen with ABCB. Refer to the stanza (four-line section) below from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic (long) poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound! (58-61)
With this example, "there" (A) and "howled" (C) do not rhyme (and are given different letters to reflect the different sounds), but "around" (B) and "swound" (B) do rhyme, and the rhyming pattern of this stanza is written as ABCB.
Poetry is very much like music. A variety of literary devices can create a musical quality in a poem. One of these devices is found in the end rhyme of a group of lines, where a pattern of rhyme has been followed by the author. This is the rhyme scheme—the rhyming pattern that the author uses in writing his poem.
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