How to Analyze the Rhyme Scheme of a Poem

A rhyme scheme is a pattern of end rhymes in lines of poetry. These rhymes are based on sound not spelling, so it’s important to keep this in mind when analyzing a rhyme scheme. Typically, a rhyme scheme uses letters to show which lines rhyme. For example, the rhyme scheme for couplets are written like this: AA, BB, CC and so on. This indicates that the first two lines rhyme with each other, the next two lines rhyme with each other, and so on, for as long as the poet wants.

Read through the poem once without paying attention to rhyme scheme. You’ll usually have to read a poem many times before fully understanding it, so before you analyze it, just read it and enjoy it.

Read through the poem again, and write a corresponding letter next to the end rhymes. The end rhyme of the first line will be “A.” If the next line rhymes with the first line, then that will be “A” as well. Once you get to a new line that doesn’t rhyme with the first line, then write “B” next to it. Continue through the poem, writing new letters for new end rhymes, and writing matching letters for matching end rhymes.

See if the rhyme scheme matches, or nearly matches, any well-known rhyme schemes. Many writers use a form of poetry that follows the same rhyme scheme. For example, the Elizabethan, or Shakespearean, sonnet rhyme scheme is ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG. You can find many other forms of poetry that use different rhyme schemes. While many modern writers may not use such strict forms, they’re important to know because sometimes a writer will create their own twist on old forms.

About the Author

Rick Radcliff became a full-time freelance writer in 2010. He has also ghostwritten for private clients, specializing in health and technology. Radcliff is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English from Pennsylvania State University.