Explore the glossary of poetic terms.
Rhyme is the correspondence of sounds in words or lines of verse.
History of Rhyme
Rhyme is often considered a defining feature of poetry, but it is a relatively new technique. Ancient Greek and Roman poetry did not rhyme, and early European poetry did not rhyme either. In the West, rhyme began to emerge during the medieval period. In other countries, such as China, rhyming occurred much earlier. In fact, the earliest surviving evidence of rhyming dates back to China in the tenth century BC.
There are many different types of rhymes characterized by the syllables of the words and the placement of the words in a line or stanza. Perfect Rhyme, the typical example of rhyme, occurs if the words’ final stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical. For example, bright and flight are perfect rhymes.
Poetry usually uses End Rhyme, the rhyming of the final syllables of a pair or group of lines. When two words in the same line rhyme, it’s called Internal Rhyme. Poets might also use Slant Rhyme, which describes words that sound similar, but don’t exactly rhyme, such as young and long.
Poems that use various types of rhyme include “A Dream of T’ien-mu Mountain” by Li Po, “Because I could not stop for death” by Emily Dickinson, “Batter my heart, three person’d God (Holy Sonnet 14)” by John Donne, “August Moonrise” by Sara Teasdale, and “Testimony: 1968” by Rita Dove.