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RHYME.                                   173
pleasing to the ear and suitable to the nature of the lighter kinds of verse, is inconsistent with the gravity and sublimity that characterise the higher forms of poetic expression. At the same time if the interval that separates the rhyming words be too great, their correspondence on the ear, which is the main purpose of rhyme, would be lost. When three heroic lines intervene, they seem to be set as far asunder as can be allowed with pro­priety. No definite rules bearing upon the sub­ject can be deduced from the writings of our best poets, and little more can be said with certainty beyond the two broad principles stated above. The remarks that are made as to the disposition of rhymes in the pure Italian form of the sonnet, and in the Spenserian stanza, may be appropriately referred to here. In the case of imperfect rhymes, if the broader and longer vowel sound be arranged to come before the corresponding shorter one, and a hard consonant sound precede the corresponding soft sound, the discordance between them is not so disagreeable as when this order is reversed. And the same applies to a word of many syllables, the last, of course, being unaccented, rhyming with a monosyllable, the light ending should always come last.
Rhyme is a non-essential element in verse. Minstrels poured forth their lays of war and love long before the chiming of similar sounds had been thought of. In our own language traces of it are to be found as far back as the tenth century, and although Chaucer may be said to have popularised






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III