Rhyme means words that sound the same or similar in their endings. Poems and popular song lyrics often use rhyme. A simple poem can also be called a rhyme.
Many examples of rhyme are in folk songs, children's songs, and of course in nursery rhymes. Rhymes at the ends of the lines in a song or poem are normal:
- Roses are red, violets are blue,
- Sugar is sweet, and so are you.
- Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow,
- And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
The counting song
- One, two, buckle my shoe,
- Three, four, shut the door,
- Five, six, pick up sticks,
- Seven, eight, lay them straight...
uses "internal rhymes," rhymes that fall within a single line instead of at the end of lines. In another children's poem,
- With a knick-knack, paddy-whack, give the dog a bone,
- This old man came rolling home...
knack and whack give another example of internal rhyme. Also, the rhymes at the ends of the lines, bone and home, are not "exact rhymes." Exact rhymes are the same in everything but the first sound. Exact rhymes are the most common type of rhyme and can be formed easily with common sounds in English:
- pay / day / way / say / may / bay / play / pray / stay ...
- me / we / be / see / tree / knee ...
Other rhymes are not exact but only similar:
- Goosey goosey gander, whither will you wander,
- Upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber...
Here, the rhymes are not exact rhymes. Also, gander and wander are "sight rhymes," words that look like rhymes when printed but do not sound quite alike. Sight rhymes are more common in poetry meant to be read, than in songs or verse meant to be sung or spoken aloud and heard by listeners.
Rhymes can be made up of more than one word, as in the short poem Rondeau by James Henry Leigh Hunt:
- Jenny kissed me when we met,
- Jumping from the chair she sat in;
- Time, you thief, who love to get
- Sweets into your book, put that in:
- Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
- Say that health and wealth have missed me,
- Say I'm growing old, but add,
- Jenny kissed me.
Along with simple normal rhymes, met and get, sad and add, and one internal rhyme, health and wealth, Hunt creates sets of clever two-word rhymes.
Some poets and writers use very unusual rhymes. Well-known examples are in the song lyrics to the 1939 MGM film version of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. The lyrics, written by E. Y. "Yip" Harburg, use many odd rhymes, plus internal rhymes, complex rhyme patterns, and other tricks of language. W. S. Gilbert, the lyricist for the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas, wrote the same way. The books of Dr. Seuss are also famous for their many strange rhymes.
Poets who choose to avoid rhyme write in blank verse or free verse.