How to Mark the Rhyme Scheme of a Poem

Poetry is a literary genre that has captivated readers for generations. Until recently, all poets used rhyming as part of a definite structure in their work. In technical terms, words rhyme when the final stressed vowels and everything after them have nearly identical sounds. There are many nuances to how a particular poet implements rhyme, but the best way to learn more is to actually read the poetry. You can see rhyme schemes in action by "marking up" the poem.

Read the poem straight through. Look up any unfamiliar words in a dictionary. Get a feeling for what the poem is trying to say.

Read the poem aloud, or have a friend read it. Listen to how the words sound. Pay special attention to any rhyming words.

Write an "A" in the right margin after the first line. Also mark even following line that ends on this same speech sound with an "A."

The first new rhyme sound that occurs after line one gets marked with a "B." In all likelihood, this will be line two. Every line that shares this sound also gets the "B" notation.

Mark every new rhyme with the next letter of the alphabet. Be careful not to introduce unnecessary new letters. Check back to the beginning of the poem if you think a sound already has a letter to identify it.

Look at the fully marked-up poem. Notice any patterns in the rhyming. Determine if the structure adds anything to the meaning or feeling of the poem.

Items you will need
Copy of poem
Pencil or pen
About the Author

Josh Patrick has several years of teaching and training experience, both in the academy and the private sector. He presented original work at the 20th Century Literature Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Patrick worked for three years on the editorial board for "Inscape," his alma mater's literary magazine. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science.

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