What is the rhyme scheme of the poem "A Contemplation upon Flowers?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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To denote the rhyme scheme of a poem one needs to first understand what rhyme scheme is. A rhyme scheme is the regular pattern of a rhyme which extends throughout a poem. (Rhyme is where words have similar sounds--like dad, mad, lad.)

To determine a rhyme scheme of a poem, one simply needs to examine the last word of each line in a poem. In regards to King's poem "A Contemplation Upon Flowers," the final words in each line are as follows (stanzas are denoted by separate lines):

you, vain, show, again, birth, earth

I, spring, die, thing, view, you

fear, truce, bier, spruce, breath, death

To define the rhyme scheme, begin with the last word of the first line: "you." This word is denoted with an "a." The next word is "vain." "Vain" does not rhyme with "you"; therefore, it is denoted with a "b." "Show" does not rhyme with either "you" or "vain." Therefore, it is denoted with a "c." "Again" is the last word in the fourth line. It rhymes with "vain" and is given the same denotation of "b." "Birth" does not rhyme with any of the preceding words, it is denoted with a "d." The last word under consideration is "earth." "Earth" rhymes with "birth" and is denoted with a "d."

Therefore, the rhyme scheme of the first stanza is as follows:

a,b,c,b,d,d.

When beginning to denote the rhyme scheme of a new stanza, one must continue one with the existing scheme--do not start over.

"I" does not rhyme with any of the previous words and is denoted with an "e." The next word is "spring." It does not rhyme with any previous words and is denoted with an "f." "Die" rhymes with "I" and is denoted with an "e." Likewise, "thing" rhymes with "spring" and is denoted with an "f." Both "view" and "you" rhyme with the word "you" from the previous stanza and is denoted with an "a."

Therefore, the rhyme scheme of the second stanza is as follows:

e,f,e,a,a

The third, and final, stanza follows the same pattern as the second stanza, but not the same rhyme scheme. "Fear" does not rhyme with any of the previous words and is denoted by a "g." "Truce," again, does not rhyme with any previous words and is denoted with an "h." "Bier" rhymes with "fear" and takes on a "g." "Spruce" rhymes with "truce" and takes on an "h." The final two lines end with rhyming words: "breath" and "death." Given that both rhyme with words seen in stanza one, "birth" and "earth," they are each denoted with a "d."

Therefore, the rhyme scheme of the final stanza is as follows:

g,h,g,h,d,d

In the end, spaces are used between the letters denoting the rhyme to indicate stanzas. (Be sure to ask your teacher which they prefer when applying either upper or lower case letters to denote rhyme scheme.)

Complete rhyme scheme for King's poem "A Contemplation upon Flowers":

Lower case:

abcbdd efeaa ghghdd

Upper case:

ABCBDD EFEAA GHGHDD

On a side note, both stanza two and three are written in the verse form called Venus and Adonis. This type of stanza and rhyme scheme consists of an iambic pentameter quatrain (four lines) and couplet (two lines). Given that stanza one's rhyme scheme (abcbdd) does not follow the rhyme scheme typical of the Venus and Adonis stanza (ababcc), it is not considered one.

 

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