How to Label the Rhyme Scheme of a Multi-Stanza Poem
Rhyme, the most used sound repetition in poetry, has a musical effect within a poem and contributes to its structure. While a lot of poetry does not adhere to a formal rhyme scheme, rhyming lines have powerful result when used in poems. You can add to your understanding of the mechanics of a multi-stanza poem, which is defined as a poem comprised of more than one unit, by labeling its rhyme scheme. A rhyme scheme is the repetition of rhyme throughout the poem that form a pattern, and it is usually shown with letters that represent these patterns.
Read a multi-stanza poem and note which words rhyme. Identify rhyme by the way the words sound instead of by the way they are spelled. Note perfect rhyme, such as “Feather” and “Weather”; slant rhyme, such as “”game” and “grime”; masculine rhyme, such as “hat” and “cat”; and feminine rhyme, such as “turtle” and “myrtle."
Identify rhyming words in the poem. End rhymes occur at the ends of lines and internal rhymes occur within a line. Circle these words in the poem if it will help you remember exactly where they are.
Label each group of rhyming words. You can write this down on a separate piece of paper or next to each line of the poem. Use letters to show which lines rhyme with one another, going in alphabetical order. For example, words such as “dog,” “frog,” “bog” would be labeled with “A.” The next group of rhyming words, such as “dark,” “park,” or “mark,” would be labeled with “B,” and so on.
Continue labeling each stanza of the poem until each line has been labeled with a letter. Leave a space between each stanza.
An excerpt from Robert Frost’s multi-stanza poem, “The Aim Was Song” would be labeled as ABAB CDCD. For example:
Before man came to blow it right A
The wind once blew itself untaught B
And did its loudest day and night A
In any rough place where it caught B
Man came to tell it what was wrong C
It hadn’t found the place to blow D
IT blew too hard- the aim was song C
And listen- how it ought to go! D
- Developing poetry skills: Reading 11-14; Geoff Barton
- Perrine’s Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry; Thomas R. Arp
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Rhyme
- Winthrop University: Technical Tips for Reading Sonnets and Early American Poetry
- An excerpt from Robert Frost’s multi-stanza poem, “The Aim Was Song” would be labeled as ABAB CDCD. For example:
- Before man came to blow it right A
- The wind once blew itself untaught B
- And did its loudest day and night A
- In any rough place where it caught B
- Man came to tell it what was wrong C
- It hadn’t found the place to blow D
- IT blew too hard- the aim was song C
- And listen- how it ought to go! D
Jessica Lawrence holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. She taught English and creative writing for three years, and has also worked in editing.