Rhyme Scheme

Last Updated: March 20, 2024

Rhyme Scheme

In the realm of poetry, where words metamorphose into intricate works of art, rhyme schemes play a pivotal role in sculpting the melody of verses. A well-executed rhyme scheme can infuse poems with depth, enhancing their impact on the reader’s senses. In this article, we will delve into the world of rhyme schemes, exploring their definition, crafting process, and some illustrative examples to fuel your poetic endeavors.

What is Rhyme Scheme?

The rhyme scheme of a poem or song refers to the pattern of rhymes at the end of each line. It’s usually represented by letters to indicate which lines rhyme; lines designated with the same letter rhyme with each other. For example, a simple four-line poem where the first line rhymes with the third, and the second line rhymes with the fourth, would have an ABAB rhyme scheme.

Types of Rhyme Scheme with Examples

Types of Rhyme Scheme

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1. Couplet (AA)

  • Description: Each pair of lines rhymes with each other.
  • Example: Shakespeare’s sonnets often end in a rhyming couplet.

2. Alternating Rhyme (ABAB)

  • Description: The first and third lines rhyme with each other, and the second and fourth lines rhyme with each other.
  • Example: Much of traditional and folk poetry uses this scheme.

3. Enclosed Rhyme (ABBA)

  • Description: The first and fourth lines rhyme with each other, and the second and third lines have their own rhyme.
  • Example: Often found in more complex poetic forms like the Italian sonnet.

4. Chain Rhyme (ABA BCB CDC)

  • Description: The rhyme from the end of one stanza carries into the beginning of the next.
  • Example: This scheme can create a linked, continuous effect across stanzas.

5. Limerick (AABBA)

  • Description: A humorous five-line form with a distinctive rhythm, where the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme, and the third and fourth lines form a rhymed couplet but are usually shorter.
  • Example: Limericks are often nonsensical or whimsical.

6. Monorhyme (AAAA)

  • Description: Every line in the stanza rhymes with each other.
  • Example: This can be used for dramatic emphasis or in light, playful poetry.

7. Triplet (AAA)

  • Description: All three lines in a stanza or a section of a poem rhyme with each other.
  • Example: This scheme can offer a compact and intense rhyming effect.

8. Ballad Stanza (ABCB)

  • Description: The second and fourth lines rhyme, while the first and third lines do not. It’s typical of many folk ballads.
  • Example: This structure is common in narrative poems and songs.

9. Terza Rima (ABA BCB CDC)

  • Description: An interlocking three-line rhyme scheme. It’s sophisticated and was famously used by Dante Alighieri in “The Divine Comedy”.
  • Example: This creates a flowing, interconnected poetic texture.

10. Villanelle (ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA)

  • Description: A complex scheme involving five tercets followed by a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the first tercet recurring alternately at the end of each subsequent stanza and then together in the final stanza.
  • Example: This form is known for its repetition and intricate rhyme, seen in poems like Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night”.

Rhyme Example

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Rhyme Scheme Description Example
ABAB Alternate lines rhyme. The second line rhymes with the fourth, while the first rhymes with the third.
AABB Consecutive lines rhyme in pairs. The first two lines rhyme with each other, as do the next two lines.
ABBA The first and fourth lines rhyme, as do the second and third, creating a sandwich-like pattern. Common in quatrains.
ABCB Only the second and fourth lines rhyme, leaving the first and third lines unrhymed. Often used in ballads.
ABCABC A more complex scheme for longer stanzas, with no immediate repetitions. Varied rhymes throughout.
ABAC Rhymes are interlaced, with the first and third lines rhyming, and the second line rhyming with a line in the next stanza. Creates a link between stanzas.

How to Identify Rhyme Scheme?

  • Read the Poem: Start by reading the poem aloud. Hearing the poem can make it easier to catch rhymes that might not be as obvious on paper.
  • Focus on the Last Words: Pay attention to the last word in each line, as the rhyme scheme is determined by these end sounds.
  • Assign Letters to Rhymes: Start with the letter ‘A’ for the end sound of the first line. If the second line rhymes with the first, it also gets an ‘A’. If it doesn’t, assign it the next letter in the alphabet, ‘B’. Continue this process for each line. Lines that rhyme with each other receive the same letter.
  • Look for Patterns: Once you’ve assigned letters to all the lines, look at the pattern that emerges. This pattern is the poem’s rhyme scheme.
  • Consider Near Rhymes: Keep in mind that some poems use near rhymes (where the end sounds are similar but not identical). Decide whether you want to count these as rhymes depending on the strictness of your analysis.
  • Identify the Scheme: Use the letters you’ve assigned to summarize the poem’s rhyme scheme. This might be a simple repeating pattern like AABB or a more complex one like ABABCC.
  • Check for Exceptions: Some poems might have a consistent rhyme scheme but include a line or two that deviates. Note these exceptions as they can be significant to the poem’s overall structure or meaning.
  • Consider the Poem’s Structure: Some poems, especially longer ones, may have different sections or stanzas with their own distinct rhyme schemes. Identify the scheme for each section separately.

What is a Rhyme Scheme in Poetry?

A rhyme scheme in poetry is the pattern of rhymes at the end of each line of a poem or song. It is denoted using letters to indicate lines that rhyme with each other. Each letter in the scheme corresponds to a particular end sound; lines that share the same letter rhyme, while different letters indicate different rhymes. The identification of a rhyme scheme helps in understanding the structure and form of the poem, as well as its rhythmic and musical qualities. Here are some key points about rhyme schemes:

  • Purpose: Rhyme schemes can add harmony, rhythm, and beauty to poetry, enhancing its emotional effect and making it more memorable.
  • Patterns: Common patterns include ABAB (where the first and third lines rhyme, and the second and fourth lines rhyme), AABB (consecutive lines rhyme in pairs), and ABCB (the second and fourth lines rhyme, but the first and third do not).
  • Variety: Rhyme schemes can vary widely, from simple to complex patterns, depending on the poet’s intentions and the poem’s structure.
  • Not Universal: While many poems utilize rhyme schemes, not all do. Free verse poems, for example, do not follow a specific rhyming pattern.

Single-Stanza vs. Whole-Poem Rhyme Schemes

Feature Single-Stanza Rhyme Scheme Whole-Poem Rhyme Scheme
Definition A pattern of end rhymes that applies to a specific stanza within a poem. A pattern of end rhymes that applies consistently across the entire length of a poem.
Application Used within individual sections or stanzas of a poem, potentially varying from stanza to stanza. Used uniformly from start to finish, maintaining the same pattern throughout.
Flexibility Offers flexibility, allowing for different rhyme schemes in different stanzas. Less flexible, as it requires adherence to a single scheme throughout the poem.
Purpose Can emphasize shifts in tone, theme, or perspective between stanzas. Provides cohesion and a unified rhythmic structure to the poem as a whole.
Examples – ABAB in one stanza and AABB in another. – ABAB throughout the entire poem.
Common Forms Found in longer poems with distinct sections, like ballads or odes. Common in sonnets, limericks, and villanelles.
Effect on Reading Encourages attention to shifts and contrasts within the poem. Creates a predictable rhythm and rhyme that enhances memorability and musicality.

Differences between Perfect Rhyme, Imperfect Rhyme, and Rhyme Scheme

Feature Perfect Rhyme Imperfect Rhyme Rhyme Scheme
Definition Rhymes involving words whose final syllables sound exactly alike. Rhymes where the correspondence between the sounds is close but not exact. The pattern of rhymes at the end of each line of a poem, marked by letters to indicate which lines rhyme.
Sound Match Complete match in the sound of the stressed syllables and any following sounds. Partial match; often the consonants match but not the vowels, or vice versa. Not about sound match but the pattern created by matching sounds.
Examples “Hat” and “cat”, “dive” and “alive”. “Love” and “move”, “home” and “same”. ABAB, AABB, ABCB, etc., indicating lines that rhyme or form a specific pattern.
Usage Often used for a strong, clear rhyming effect. Used to create a subtler rhyme, enriching the text with complex sounds. Used to organize poems and give them structure, affecting the flow and feel.
Effect Creates a more traditional, musical quality in the poem. Adds depth and texture, allowing for more flexibility in expression. Influences the poem’s rhythm, pace, and how it is read or heard.
Types of Poems Common in formal and traditional poetry. Frequent in modern and contemporary poetry. Present in almost all types of poems, regardless of the rhyme types used.

Why Do Writers Use Rhyme Schemes?

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Rhyme schemes add a musical quality to poetry, making it more pleasing to the ear. The repetition of sounds can create a harmonious effect that enhances the overall aesthetic experience of the poem.
  • Memory Aid: Rhymes make poetry easier to remember. Historically, this was especially important for oral storytelling and the transmission of stories and knowledge before the widespread use of writing.
  • Emphasize Ideas: By rhyming particular words, poets can draw attention to specific ideas or themes within their work, underscoring their significance.
  • Create Rhythm: Rhyme schemes contribute to the rhythm of a poem. The patterned repetition of sounds at the end of lines can produce a predictable rhythm that propels the reader through the poem.
  • Structural Coherence: Rhyme schemes can provide a sense of unity and coherence to a poem. They offer a structured framework that can tie together disparate ideas, emotions, or images.
  • Enhance Emotional Impact: The use of rhyme can intensify the emotional effect of a poem. The way certain sounds resonate with each other can amplify feelings of joy, sadness, tension, or tranquility.
  • Convey Tone and Mood: Different rhyme schemes can create different tones and moods, from the light-heartedness of a limerick to the solemnity of a sonnet. The choice of rhyme scheme can subtly influence how the content of the poem is perceived emotionally.
  • Innovation and Creativity: Experimenting with unconventional rhyme schemes allows writers to explore new forms of expression and creativity, challenging traditional poetic forms and conventions.
  • Engage the Reader: A well-crafted rhyme scheme can make a poem more engaging and enjoyable to read, inviting the reader to anticipate the rhyming words and engage more deeply with the text.

Why are Rhyme Schemes Important?

  • Rhythmic Structure: Rhyme schemes provide a consistent pattern of sounds that contribute to the rhythm of a poem. This rhythmic structure can make the poem more pleasing to hear and easier to remember.
  • Emotional Impact: The repetition of sounds in rhymes can amplify the emotional effect of a poem. It can create a sense of harmony, emphasize key moments, or intensify the mood being conveyed.
  • Unity and Cohesion: A consistent rhyme scheme can unify a poem, tying its lines and stanzas together. This cohesion helps in reinforcing the poem’s theme and enhancing its overall structure.
  • Aesthetic Pleasure: The musical quality introduced by rhyme schemes can be inherently pleasing. It adds a layer of beauty to the poem, making it more enjoyable to read or listen to.
  • Emphasis and Focus: Rhyme schemes can be used to highlight certain words, ideas, or themes within a poem. By placing rhymes in strategic positions, writers can direct the reader’s attention to important elements.
  • Tradition and Form: Many traditional poetic forms, such as sonnets and villanelles, rely on specific rhyme schemes. Using these schemes connects contemporary work with literary traditions and offers challenges that can inspire creativity.
  • Variety and Creativity: The choice of rhyme scheme can also introduce variety and creativity into poetry. Experimenting with different schemes allows poets to explore new ways of expression and find unique voices.
  • Memory and Recitation: Poems with rhyme schemes are often easier to memorize and recite. This quality has historical importance in oral storytelling and continues to make poetry accessible and engaging.

1. Rhyme Scheme Practice Example

Rhyme Scheme Practice


2. Rhyme Scheme Poem Example

Rhyme Scheme Poem


3. Significance of Rhyme Scheme Example

Significance of Rhyme Scheme Example


4. Mapping Rhyme Scheme Example

Mapping Rhyme Scheme Example


5. Rhyme Scheme Example

Rhyme Scheme Example1


6. Christmas Rhyme Scheme Example

Christmas Rhyme Scheme Example


7. Rhyme Scheme Poetic Form Example

Rhyme Scheme Poetic Form Example


8. Rhyme Scheme Template

Rhyme Scheme Template


9. New Rhyme Scheme Example

New Rhyme Scheme Example


10. Find Rhyme Scheme Example

Find Rhyme Scheme Example


11. 7th Grade Rhyme Scheme Example

7th Grade Rhyme Scheme Example


12. Virtual Lesson Rhyme Scheme Example

Virtual Lesson Rhyme Scheme Example


13. Rhyme Scheme Checklist Example

Rhyme Scheme Checklist Example


14. Rhyme Scheme Activity Example

Rhyme Scheme Activity Example


15. Marking Rhyme Scheme Example

Marking Rhyme Scheme Example


16. Types of Rhyme Scheme Example

Types of Rhyme Scheme Example


17. Rhyme Scheme Example

Rhyme Scheme Example


18. Short Rhyme Scheme Example

Short Rhyme Scheme Example


19. aabba Rhyme Scheme Example

aabba Rhyme Scheme Example


20. Ballad Rhyme Scheme Example

Ballad Rhyme Scheme Example


21. Rhyme Scheme Pattern Example

Rhyme Scheme Pattern Example


22. Shakespearean Rhyme Scheme Example

Shakespearean Rhyme Scheme Example


23. Class 10 Rhyme Scheme Example

Class 10 Rhyme Scheme Example


24. Villanelle Rhyme Scheme Example

Villanelle Rhyme Scheme Example


25. English Rhyme Scheme Example

English Rhyme Scheme Example


26. Rhyme Scheme Planning Sheet Example

Rhyme Scheme Planning Sheet Example


27. 14 Line Rhyme Scheme Example

14 Line Rhyme Scheme Example


28. Standard Rhyme Scheme Example

Standard Rhyme Scheme Example


29. Free Rhyme Scheme Example

Free Rhyme Scheme Example


What is a Rhyme Scheme?

At its core, a rhyme scheme is a pattern of rhyming words found at the end of lines in a poem. This pattern not only lends a musical quality to the poem but also acts as a unifying thread that guides the reader through the verses. The arrangement of rhymes is denoted using letters, with each unique rhyme sound assigned a different letter of the alphabet. Rhyme schemes can vary widely, from simple and repetitive patterns to intricate and complex arrangements that weave an intricate web of sound.

How to Craft a Rhyme Scheme

To embark on your journey of crafting a captivating rhyme scheme, follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose a Poem Type and Theme

Before diving into the realm of rhyme schemes, select the type of poem you wish to write and identify its theme. Whether it’s a sonnet with strict rules or a free verse poem, understanding the elements and characteristics of the chosen poem type will guide your creative process.

Step 2: Set the Tone and Stanza Structure

Determine the tone you wish to convey through your poem. This will influence your choice of words and the overall mood of the verses. Additionally, decide on the stanza structure – the number of lines per stanza – as this will impact the rhyme scheme’s arrangement.

Step 3: Create Analogies and Imagery

Weave analogies and vivid imagery into your verses to enhance the thematic depth of your poem. Analogies help the reader relate to complex concepts, while imagery paints a visual picture that resonates with their senses, making your poem memorable and engaging.

Step 4: Establish the Rhyme Scheme

Now comes the crux of the matter: establishing your rhyme scheme. Assign a letter to each unique rhyme sound present in your poem. Follow the pattern consistently throughout the poem, ensuring that each line adheres to the rhyme scheme you’ve chosen.


What is the most common rhyme scheme?

The most common rhyme scheme is ABAB. This pattern involves alternating lines rhyming with each other (the first line rhymes with the third, and the second with the fourth), creating a pleasing and straightforward rhythmic structure.

How do you identify a rhyme scheme?

To identify a rhyme scheme, examine the end words of each line for rhymes, assigning a new letter (starting with A) to each unique rhyme sound. Lines that rhyme share the same letter, mapping out the pattern throughout the poem.

What songs have the AABA rhyme scheme?

Songs with an AABA rhyme scheme include classics like “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” This structure features two repeating sections, a contrasting bridge, then a return to the initial theme.

What is a AABB poem called?

A poem with an AABB rhyme scheme is often called a couplet when the pairs of rhyming lines are considered independently, but when this pattern extends throughout the entire poem, it may simply be referred to as having an AABB pattern without a specific name.

What does ABCB mean in poetry?

In poetry, ABCB is a rhyme scheme where the second and fourth lines rhyme, while the first and third lines do not, creating a pattern where every other line rhymes. This scheme is common in ballads and narrative poems.

What’s the objective of using a rhyme scheme in a poem?

A rhyme scheme serves multiple purposes. It adds a musical quality to the poem, making it more pleasing to the ear. Additionally, it helps create a sense of unity and structure, guiding the reader through the poem’s flow.

Can I use a cliche in a poem with a rhyme scheme?

While it’s advisable to avoid cliches in your writing, a well-placed cliche within a poem can work if it serves the theme and tone effectively. However, strive to infuse your work with fresh and original language whenever possible.

Can I mix different rhyme schemes within a single poem?

Yes, you can experiment with multiple rhyme schemes within a poem to create dynamic shifts in tone or emphasize specific sections. However, ensure that the transitions between different schemes are smooth and enhance the overall coherence of the poem.

Crafting a compelling rhyme scheme is akin to composing a melodic symphony with words. By understanding the nuances of different rhyme schemes, mastering the steps involved, and infusing your poetic endeavors with creativity, you can create verses that resonate deeply with your readers. As you continue your poetic journey, remember that each rhyme scheme is a unique brushstroke on the canvas of literature, contributing to the rich tapestry of human expression.

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