It refers to words that rhyme in the middle of the same line or across multiple lines. For example, one or more words in the middle of two or more lines that rhyme. This kind of rhyme can occur in the middle of a line in any type of poetry. It does not need to follow a specific rhyme scheme, although they can be created when the technique is used consistently throughout a poem.
Explore Internal Rhyme
Internal Rhyme Definition
Internal rhyme is a poetic device that is defined by the position of the rhyming word or words. They are different from traditional end rhymes in that the rhyming words are only in the middle of lines.
They are also sometimes referred to as “middle rhymes.” Unlike traditional rhyme schemes in which the end words line up, middle rhymes do not need to follow any pattern. Two words might rhyme in one line, and then there be no other instances of rhyme throughout the rest of the poem.
For example, “Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow / From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore.” Here, the words “sorrow” and “borrow” (and “sorrow” again). This is a great example of a perfect internal rhyme that matches up with the final sounds of other lines.
Pararhyme and Semi-rhyme
Pararhyme and semi-rhyme are also examples of rhyme that poets might use in the middle of lines. The first refers to words that only rhyme in part due to their consonant sounds. The latter refers to words that rhyme but one has an extra syllable on the end.
Internal Rhyme Examples
Explore the example poems below, with internal rhymes highlighted throughout.
‘The Raven‘ is a wonderfully rhymed poem that provides readers with numerous examples of various types of rhyme. Take a look at the first few famous lines of the poem:
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.”
In the first line, readers should be able to spot an example of an internal rhyme with “dreary” and “weary.” Poe could’ve ended the first line after “dreary,” but he chose to extend the line, adding a true end rhyme and allowing “dreary” to exist as an internal rhyme. There are also examples throughout the rest of the lines with “napping,” “tapping,” “rapping” (used twice), and “tapping” again.
Explore more Edgar Allan Poe poems.
In ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ Coleridge uses an interesting rhyme scheme that includes end rhymes and internal rhymes. Here are a few lines from the poem that demonstrate his technique:
‘The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.
The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.
In the first line of verse, there is “cheered” and “cleared.” There are perfect rhymes in lines three and four with “Below,” and then in the following stanza, there’s another good example with “sea,” “he,” and “bright,” and “right.”
Discover more poetry from Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
‘Annabel Lee’ is another immensely popular poem by Poe and an example of internal rhyme. In this piece, readers can find many other examples of half-rhyme, although not quite as many as can be found throughout ‘The Raven.’
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
There are internal rhymes in these lines with “beams” and “dreams” as well as “rise” and “eyes.”
Song of the Witches: “Double, double toil and trouble” by William Shakespeare
The famed witches’ song from Macbeth includes several examples of internal rhyme. For example, the “b” in “Double, double” and “bubble” and “burn” in the first two lines and the long “I” sound in “Fire” and “Eye.” Here is the first part of the witches’ song from Macbeth.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Internal rhyme in this passage creates a musical effect. It cannot be undervalued when used in this kind of context.
Explore William Shakespeare’s poetry.
Internal Rhyme and Meter
Line breaks are one of the most important defining features when it comes to internal rhymes, end rhymes, and poetry more generally. Whether a rhyme is an end rhyme or an internal rhyme depends entirely on where the line break falls.
If it occurs right after the rhyming words, then it’s going to become an end rhyme automatically. These rhymes are the most common ways that poetry is given a rhyme scheme. They are also far more obvious than internal rhymes. The latter is one of the main reasons why poets might choose to push off the line break and allow the internal rhyme to exist within multiple or a single line. Often, crafting a clear and obvious rhyme scheme is not something a poet is interested in accomplishing.
Internal Rhyme or End Rhyme
Internal rhyme is the opposite of end rhyme. Most readers will likely think of end rhymes when they consider poetry. These are lines that match up due to rhyming words that appear at the end of a line. This is the most common way to create a rhyme scheme within a piece of poetry.
It is also more obvious than when internal rhyme is used. Sometimes, the latter is hard to spot, especially if the rhymes are more spread out. It should also be noted that an end rhyme might rhyme with an internal rhyme. This is only one way that a writer might create and add rhyme to their poetry.
Many poets might find the less obvious nature of the internal rhyme to be more appealing. This is certainly the case when it comes to contemporary poetry and the prevalence of free verse.
An internal rhyme occurs within the middle of lines while end rhymes appear at the end of lines. Internal rhymes do not create a pattern.
An eye rhyme is a coordination between words that are spelled the same but are not pronounced the same.
The point is to provide more examples of rhyme throughout a poem without creating a specific pattern. Internal rhymes can make specific moments of verse far more effective and memorable.
Internal rhyme can be used at any time within a poem. It occurs inside lines. It’s most effective when it’s used a few times over the course of several lines. An understanding of assonance and consonance is important.
An example can be seen in the lines of ‘Anabel Lee’ and the repetition of long “i” sounds. For example, “eyes” and “rise” as well as the long “e” sounds like “Lee” and “sea.”
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: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
- Watch: Internal Rhyme in Rap