How to Write a Poem With Rhythm, Rhyme & Repetition
The best poetry blends artistic vision with more concrete elements to create a moving piece of literature. Writing about topics you know also contributes to a strong piece of writing. Although writing poetry demands a creative touch, following conventions for use of rhythm, rhyme and repetition will help you excel as a poet.
First, a poem needs rhythm. Rhythm is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem. A writer may adhere to a very concise pattern of rhythm throughout his work. However, varying the pattern is a good way to draw emphasis to a particular moment or emotion in the poem. The first stanza of "The Pasture" by Robert Frost is a good example of rhythm. "I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;/ I'll only stop to rake the leaves away." You can write a poem with rhythm by studying great poets and applying their techniques. Tapping out rhythms on the table is helpful to see if you are being consistent. Finding synonyms for what you are trying to say that have fewer or more syllables is also a good way to keep your rhythm consistent.
Rhyme is the repetition of similar sounds, especially at the end of lines or phrases. Poets use rhyme because it creates musicality for the reader and helps the reader remember the poem. Often, writers start with a few stellar words that rhyme and build their poem around that. You can create a catchy rhyme that will work in the scope of a bigger poem by thinking of your subject and brainstorming ideas. In traditional poetic style, rhyme is kept consistent throughout each stanza. If the rhyme is disrupted, the author is trying to make a statement.
Repetition is the repeated use of words or phrases. Poets use repetition to emphasize an idea or a feeling in their poetry. Sometimes repetition is in the form of a refrain, a repeated line or lines that recurs throughout the poem. In "The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe, the words "nothing more" and "nevermore" are repeated at the end of stanzas. This is the consistent answer that the raven gives to the speaker when asked if he will get over the loss of his love, Lenore. Poe uses repetition to show how bleak the situation really is. This is similar to the idea of a refrain in a song. You can find a word or phrase that is integral to your poem's meaning and repeat it intermittently throughout. You can then practice moving the word or phrase to different spots in the poem to see where the repetition best fits.
To write good poetry, spend time reading good poetry. Studying poets like Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath and William Carlos Williams will develop your poetic sense. Also, take time to find your own voice and determine what types of rhyme scheme or rhythms come naturally. You can practice reading your ideas out loud to see what words and phrases sound good. Finally, writers need to be willing to revise their work. Whether dealing with rhyme, rhythm or repetition, practicing the rules and re-working poetic elements often leads to better writing.
Kathryne Bradesca has been a writing teacher for more than 15 years. She has also contributed to newspapers and magazines such as "The Morning Journal" and "The Ignatius Quarterly." Bradesca received a master's degree in teaching from Kent State University.