End rhyme is also known as “tail rhyme” or “terminal rhyme.” When a poet uses end rhyme, their poetry has a pleasing musical quality. It is incredibly common in poetry and is intrinsically connected to the genre in many reader’s minds. Usually, these rhymes are considered “perfect rhymes,” meaning that the words or syllables are identical sounding. For example, “cat” and “hat.” But, not all end rhymes are perfect. Plus, not all poems have end rhymes or any kind of rhyme (see free verse), but a large number of them do.
Today, end rhyme is not as popular as it used to be. Most contemporary poets choose to use some version of rhyme or disregard it altogether. Although, it is still quite common in children’s poetry.
Explore End Rhyme
Definition of End Rhyme
End rhymes appear at the end of lines of poetry when words have the same sounds. It needs to occur in at least two lines, but those lines do not have to be subsequent or next to one another.
End rhymes can be spread out and create different patterns. For example, the first and last lines of a stanza might correspond with a perfect end rhyme. Or the first three lines of a stanza, the last two lines, and so on. One stanza of rhyming poetry will more than likely contain different end rhymes.
When analyzed, rhyme schemes are noted through the use of capital letters to denote which lines rhyme with which, starting with the letter “A.” For example, consider these lines from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven:’
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”
If this poem’s rhyme scheme was analyzed, the first stanza would be described as ABCBBB. There is only one end rhyme in this stanza, but there are several other types of rhyme present as well, such as internal rhyme and half-rhyme. While a lot of poems use end rhymes in some kind of pattern, it is possible to use them so sporadically or (seemingly) randomly that there’s no discernible pattern.
Types of End Rhymes
As mentioned above, some poems make use of perfect end rhymes while others use different types of rhyme. For example:
- Terminal pararhyme: an end rhyme in which the consonants of two or more words rhyme. For example, “seal” and “sail.”
- Terminal semirhyme: two words share the same sound, but one has an extra syllable at the end.
Examples of End Rhyme in Poetry
In this well-loved Frost poem, the poet uses a clear and effective rhyme scheme. The poem explores the narrator’s hidden intentions, his worries about the future, and his fixation on the woods. The overall atmosphere of the poem is changed by the poet’s use of a rhyme scheme. Here are the first few lines:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
In this first stanza, the poet uses a rhyme scheme of AABA. This pattern continues into the next stanzas with different end rhymes but using the same arrangement. As a modern poet, Frost is somewhat of an exception to the rule in regard to the popularity of rhyme schemes. Many of his poems use patterned rhymes and are just as popular today as any contemporary poet’s work.
Discover more Robert Frost poems.
‘The Tyger’ is one of William Blake’s best-known poems. It explores God’s creation, the evil and the good, and how one can exist alongside the other. This poem is usually paired with ‘The Lamb,’ as its opposite. The two were published in Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence. The poet asks how God could’ve created the lamb and created the tiger and how God felt about the latter. Here are the first few lines:
Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry
In what distant deep or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
In the first stanza, the words “bright” and “night” are perfect end rhymes, while “eye” and “symmetry” could rhyme with the right pronunciation. In the second stanza, “skies” and “eyes” are a perfect rhyme, as are “aspire” and “fire.” The rhyme, in addition to the meter, gives this poem its famous drumbeat/heartbeat sound that’s meant to mimic metaphorical forges creating the fearsome tiger.
Explore more William Blake poems.
Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 18,’ also known as ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ is one of his best-loved. It conforms to the traditional pattern of a Shakespearean sonnet. Meaning it follows a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG. Here are the first four lines:
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
There is one moment, in the second and fourth lines, where the rhyme scheme slips somewhat. here, readers might be able to change their pronunciation to force the words “temperate” and “date” to rhyme. There are many other good examples of end rhymes in this piece.
Related Literary Terms
- Cadence: the natural rhythm of a piece of text, created through a writer’s selective arrangement of words, rhymes, and the creation of meter.
- Ballad: a kind of verse, sometimes narrative in nature, often set to music and developed from 14th and 15th-century minstrelsy.
- Blank Verse: a kind of poetry that is written in unrhymed lines but with a regular metrical pattern.
- Free Verse: lines are unrhymed, and there are no consistent metrical patterns. But, that doesn’t mean it is entirely without structure.
- Rhyme Scheme of Sonnets: usually conform to one of two different rhyme schemes, those connected to the Shakespearean and the Petrarchan sonnet forms.
- Listen: Rhyme and Rhyme Scheme in Poetry
- Read: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
- Watch: Internal Rhyme in Rap