What is Internal Rhyme?
Internal rhyme, sometimes referred to as middle rhyme or embedded rhyme, is a poetry device in which rhymes occur between words that are in the same line or lines that are next to each other. These rhyming words can appear anywhere in the line, whether it be at the beginning, middle, or end. The strategic placement of these rhymes contributes to the poem’s flow, creating an internal harmony that echoes in the reader’s mind.
Read also: Assonance in poetry
Types of Internal Rhyme
There are various types of internal rhyme, each offering unique qualities that enrich the poetic experience. Let’s delve into some of these types to better understand the depth and versatility of internal rhyme in poetry.
1. Single Internal Rhyme:
In single internal rhyme, a single word within a line rhymes with a word at the end of the same line or in another line. This type of internal rhyme is one of the most common and straightforward forms, adding a touch of musicality to the poem without overpowering the overall rhythm.
“And then the heart, the core, the very center of it all.”
In this line, “heart” rhymes internally with “part,” creating a harmonious connection within the phrase.
2. Multiple Internal Rhymes:
Multiple internal rhymes involve more than one rhyming word within a line. Poets use this type to heighten the lyrical quality of the verse, making it more engaging and rhythmically complex.
“The moon danced in the sky, a silver beacon shining high.”
Here, “moon” rhymes internally with “danced,” while “sky” rhymes internally with “shining,” creating a rich tapestry of sound.
3. Crossed Internal Rhyme:
In crossed internal rhyme, two or more words rhyme within one line, and one of those rhyming words also rhymes with a word in another line. This intricate type of internal rhyme adds a sophisticated layer of cohesion and unity to the poem.
“Amidst the meadow’s bloom, a bird’s song takes flight, With joyous tune, it soars, and fills the world with light.”
Here, “bloom” and “tune” rhyme within the first line, while “flight” rhymes with “light” in the second line, creating an interwoven rhyme pattern.
4. Interrupted Internal Rhyme:
Interrupted internal rhyme occurs when a rhyming word is placed within a line but is separated by other non-rhyming words or phrases. This type of internal rhyme can surprise and delight the reader, adding an element of unpredictability to the poem’s flow.
“The river flows, a shimmering blue, Under the golden sun, it gleams and sings anew.”
Here, the internal rhyme between “flows” and “gleams” is momentarily interrupted by the phrase “a shimmering blue.”
5. Chained Internal Rhyme:
Chained internal rhyme involves a sequence of rhyming words within a line, each connected to the next. This type of internal rhyme creates a captivating cascade of sounds, drawing the reader deeper into the poem’s enchanting rhythm.
“In the forest’s heart, where shadows play, A secret blooms, beneath moon’s soft ray.”
Here, “heart” rhymes with “play,” and “blooms” rhymes with “moon’s,” creating a chain of internal rhymes.
6. Pun Internal Rhyme:
Pun internal rhyme cleverly uses wordplay to create humor or double meanings. This type of internal rhyme adds wit and playfulness to the poem, leaving the reader with a smile.
“I wear my hat like a crown, the king of puns in town.”
Here, the internal rhyme between “crown” and “town” accompanies the playful pun about the speaker’s witty hat-wearing style.
Examples of Internal Rhyme in Poetry
1. Example from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”:
Edgar Allan Poe, a master of dark and haunting verse, artfully employed internal rhyme in his iconic poem “The Raven.” The repetitive and haunting internal rhymes contribute to the poem’s melancholic tone, enhancing its emotional impact.
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
In this line, the internal rhyme between “Quoth” and “Nevermore” creates a poetic refrain that echoes throughout the poem, heightening its eerie atmosphere.
2. Example from William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”:
Even the great Shakespeare, the bard of all bards, utilized internal rhyme to add musicality and depth to his plays. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Shakespeare employs internal rhyme to craft a whimsical and enchanting atmosphere.
“And the moon, like a silver bow new-bent in heaven.”
Here, the internal rhyme between “moon” and “new-bent” complements the celestial imagery, creating a vivid picture of the moon’s graceful arc in the night sky.
3. Example from Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers”:
Emily Dickinson, known for her concise yet profound poetry, skillfully used internal rhyme to add emphasis and a lyrical quality to her verses.
“That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words,”
The internal rhyme between “soul” and “tune” enhances the metaphor of hope as a bird singing within the soul, elevating the poem’s emotional resonance.
4. Example from Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”:
Robert Frost’s poetry often embraced the beauty of nature and the simplicity of life. In this famous poem, internal rhyme subtly contributes to the rhythm and serenity of the verses.
“The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake.”
In this excerpt, “sweep” and “downy” form an internal rhyme, evoking the gentle rustling of the wind and snowflakes, further immersing the reader in the tranquil wintry scene.
5. Example from Langston Hughes’s “Harlem (Dream Deferred)”:
Langston Hughes, a prominent figure of the Harlem Renaissance, used internal rhyme to infuse his poetry with rhythm and impact. In “Harlem (Dream Deferred),” he addresses the deferred dreams of African Americans, and the internal rhyme enhances the urgency of the question posed.
“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”
In these lines, the internal rhyme between “deferred” and “sun” accentuates the contrasting imagery of a dream withering like a raisin in the sun, emphasizing the significance of unfulfilled aspirations.
Functions of Internal Rhyme
Internal rhyme, also known as middle or embedded rhyme, is the poetic device in which words within the same line or adjacent lines rhyme with each other. These rhyming words can appear anywhere in the line, whether it be at the beginning, middle, or end. The strategic placement of these rhymes contributes to the poem’s flow, creating an internal harmony that echoes in the reader’s mind.
The Musicality of Internal Rhyme:
Internal rhyme functions as a natural instrument, enhancing the musicality of a poem. When skillfully employed, the repetitive sounds create a harmonious rhythm that pleases the ear and engages the reader on a subconscious level. This musical quality is especially potent when reading poetry aloud, as the internal rhymes create a lyrical cadence that mimics the beat of a song or the flow of a river.
Consider Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven,” as an example of effective internal rhyme:
“And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain.”
The internal rhyme between “uncertain” and “curtain” contributes to the haunting melody of the verse, intensifying the emotional impact of the poem.
A Sense of Unity and Structure:
Internal rhyme goes beyond the surface-level beauty of poetic language. It serves as a unifying element that ties together various parts of a poem. When certain words rhyme within the lines, it creates a sense of cohesion and structure, allowing the poem to feel like a seamless work of art.
In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the internal rhyme plays a significant role in maintaining a structured narrative:
“The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow followed free.”
The repetition of the “oo” sound with “blew,” “flew,” and “followed” gives a sense of continuity to the lines, subtly connecting the description of the maritime journey.
Amplifying Emotions and Imagery:
Internal rhyme also contributes to the emotional and visual impact of poetry. By bringing together words with similar sounds, it intensifies the emotions and imagery portrayed. Poets often use this technique to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind or evoke specific feelings.
In Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers,” she writes:
“That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words,”
The internal rhyme between “soul” and “tune” unites the abstract idea of hope with the tangible concept of a singing bird, making the metaphor all the more compelling.
Crafting Complexity and Challenge:
While internal rhyme adds depth to poetry, it also poses a challenge to poets. It requires a keen sense of language and an adept use of vocabulary to find words that not only fit the context but also create harmonious internal rhymes. Poets must strike a delicate balance between musicality and meaning, ensuring that the rhyme enhances the poem’s core message without becoming overly contrived.