Rail yard background, from the Library of Congress

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Sounds in Poetry
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The easiest and most important sound pattern in poetry is rhyme. Most verse written before the twentieth century uses a pattern of end rhymes called a "rhyme scheme," which is described in the next paragraph. End rhymes are those that come, well, at the end of lines. Internal rhymes, on the other hand, are rhymes in which at least one of the rhyming words does not end a line. Slant rhymes are almost-rhymes, often with the same consonants but slightly different vowel sounds. For instance, "mood" and "brood" is a plain old rhyme, while "mood" and "good" is a slant rhyme.

The rhyme scheme of a poem is written in small letters, with "a" signifying the first end rhyme sound, "b" the second, and so on. A space between letters stands for a stanza break. If the notation is typewritten, the scheme is generally italicized. Thus, the rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet is written ababcdcdefefgg, while that of a quatrain-based poem might be abab cdcd efef . . . . The ellipsis (". . .") signifies a repeating pattern, as it does in mathematical notation.

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