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 kind 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
Definition and Explanation of Internal Rhyme
Internal rhymes are 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 sort of pattern. Two words might rhyme in one line and then there be no other instances of rhyme throughout the rest of the poem.
Pararhyme and Semi-rhyme
Pararhyme and semi-rhyme are also examples of rhyme that poets might 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.
Examples of Internal Rhyme
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.
In ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ Coleridge makes use of an interesting rhyme scheme that includes end rhymes and internal rhymes. Here are a few lines from the poem that clearly 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 this excerpt, 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.”
‘Annabel Lee’ is another quite popular poem by Poe. 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.”
Internal Rhyme and the Use of Line Breaks
Line breaks are one of the most important defining features when it comes to internal rhymes, end rhymes, and poetry more general. 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 word/s then it’s going to automatically become an end rhyme. 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. 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 very end of them. 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.
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