What is the rhyme scheme of "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Rhyme refers to the pattern or rhythm of sounds a poet creates in his/her poetry by using similar sounding words. A rhyme scheme refers to the recurrence of similar sounding words at the end of each line in a poem, thus creating a pattern. Rhyme schemes not only provide a rhythmical quality to the poem, but can also be used to accentuate an idea or thought or as a binding agent which creates unity in the stanzas or in the entire poem. Any deviation from the pattern would, therefore, place more emphasis on the line that is different.
 
When identifying a rhyme scheme, one should consider the end rhyme, i.e. the pattern of sounds repeated at the end of each line. Starting with the first letter of the alphabet, 'A,' one denotes the rhyme for the first line. Every first line will, therefore, be allocated an 'A.' One then determines whether the end rhyme of the first line is repeated and, if so, the same notation is used. After that, a line which does not repeat the same sound in its end is indicated with a 'B.' The process is repeated until the end of the poem, using the letters of the alphabet in capitalized form.
 
Using this method, then, one can see that the rhyme scheme in Frost's poem is ABAAB; CDCCD; EFEEF; GHGGH. Frost uses a very particular rhyme scheme that is quite original. He utilizes full rhyme throughout the poem with the exception of lines 17 and 20, where he uses half rhyme. It is obvious that the syllables at the ends of these lines do not rhyme perfectly: "hence" (line 17) and "difference" (line 20), unless one emphasizes the third syllable in "difference" and pronounces the 'e' as the first syllable in "hence."
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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost is divided into four five-line stanzas, with the breaks between stanzas indicated by blank lines. The rhymes in the poem form a regular pattern, with each stanza having an identical rhyme scheme. The rhyme words occur at the ends of the lines, and are mostly regular in that they repeat both a vowel and a consonant sound. 

Literary critics usually describe rhymes by indicating the rhyme sounds with capital letters, with the first rhyme sound of a stanza assigned an "A", the second a "B", the third a "C", etc. When the same sound recurs, critics repeat the letter. Thus in the first stanza, one would label the rhyme scheme as follows (rhyme words italicized and labels bolded):

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,   A

And sorry I could not travel both         B

And be one traveler, long I stood         A

And looked down one as far as I could   A

To where it bent in the undergrowth;    B

Thus the rhyme scheme of the stanza is described as "ABAAB". 

All four stanzas of the poem use the same rhyme scheme, albeit with different rhyme words. The rhyme words are all the final words of the lines, and are thus known as "end rhymes". 

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