4.10 End Rhyme in Poetry: Definition & Examples

Feb 4, 2020 | Courses, Literature, Poetry

In this lesson, we will define end rhyme. We will also cover why some poets and songwriters choose to use it. Then we will identify examples of end rhyme by looking at stanzas from classic poems and from a popular nursery rhyme.

What Is End Rhyme?

End rhyme is when the last syllables within a verse rhyme. This type of rhyme is the most commonly used in English poetry. It is also often used in song lyrics, as we will see below.

Many poets use end rhyme because it creates a rhythm. If end rhyme is used throughout the poem to create a rhyming pattern or rhyme scheme, then the poem has a musical quality to it because it flows in a rhythmic way. Songwriters also use end rhyme frequently, which makes their lyrics sound catchy and are often easier for listeners to remember.

Examples of End Rhyme

Colonel John McCrae wrote a famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields,’ which uses end rhyme to create a rhythmic flow as he expresses his grief over the fallen soldiers who died on Flanders’ battlefield during World War I. Here’s the first stanza of the poem:

‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly.

Scarce heard amid the guns below.’

In lines one and two, the words ‘blow’ and ‘row’ rhyme, as do the words ‘sky’ and ‘fly’ in lines three and four. In line five, the word ‘below’ rhymes with the first two lines. In order to use end rhyme, one does not need to make every line rhyme. Only two lines need to rhyme in order to create end rhyme, but McCrae chose to use end rhyme multiple times to enhance the musicality of the poem.

In Emily Dickinson’s brief but interesting poem ‘A word is dead’ end rhyme is used in a different way:

‘A word is dead

When it is said,

Some say.

I say it just

Begins to live

That day.’

As you can see, lines one and two use end rhyme (‘dead’ and ‘said’), but the only other example of end rhyme is line three rhyming with line six (‘say’ and ‘day’). So, it is up to the poet whether end rhyme is used throughout an entire poem to create a more defined rhythm or not.

There are many contemporary and classic examples of song lyrics that contain end rhymes. Even as a child, you were probably singing end rhymes long before you knew what they were. ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ is a well-known nursery rhyme written in 1830 by Sarah Hale. Notice Hale’s use of end rhyme in the excerpt shown here:

‘Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow

And everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go.’

‘Snow’ and ‘go’ create end rhyme, which helps establish the sing-song rhythm.

Lesson Summary

End rhyme is when the last syllables within a verse rhyme, and many poets and songwriters use it to create rhythm. A poet can use end rhyme to create a rhyming pattern or rhyme scheme. Alternatively, he or she can choose to use end rhyme sparingly so that it has less of a rhythmic flow.

Key Terms

  • end rhyme: the last syllables within a verse rhyme that many poets and songwriters use to create rhythm
  • rhyme scheme: end rhyme is used throughout the poem to create a rhyming pattern, causing the poem to have a musical quality

 

Learning Outcomes

Subsequent to learning the facts of this lesson, you might define and identify end rhyme in English poetry.

4.11 Prose Poems: Definition & Famous Examples
4.9 Interpreting a Poem's Main Idea & Theme