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Monday, November 16, 2009

English Poetry Versification Part III-B

The rhyme scheme sets the structure of the stanza in metered poetry. So it can be said that a stanza sits in a poem on a cluster of verses stitched together with a set pattern of meter and rhyme marked off by a space. It is clear to see in the example below that the poem has six stanzas. Do you agree?

Whimsical Echo
(In Open Form)

Of this you can be sure
For there is no need for you to ignore
And perhaps in time
When the clock does chime
And there is no more slime
Or slick on the roads out there
It will again be clean and clear.

An apple a day
Keeps the doctor at bay
Yea, not many bills to pay
So we joke and say
That frolic is an aspect of play
Causing laughter to burst in the air
Without a frown or a drop of a tear

Look how they did dance
And the way they did prance
They did not cry
Neither did they sigh
Too short is life for strife
So put away that knife
And forget about ending your life.

Such a handsome man was born in May
And his name was Ray
He walked the streets by day
With emotions that tossed
Twirled and kept him in a fray
As though like driftwood on some bay
The vagrant walked away.

Too many sad nights
When watching orchestrated fights
And without keeping the score
The boxer fell on the floor
His face with sweat and of gore
So the crowd rushes to the door
Not wanting to watch anymore.

As you should know
That the echo is like hello
On the rebound every time
The persistence of the chime
Or a sound is dropped
After its source has stopped
For replies
To which the echo supplies.

However, the rhyming pattern of verses does not create a rhyme scheme because of their varying nature in the various stanzas of the said poem. The poem is simply a rhyming poem.

Now, if we've got a poem with stanzas clearly showing an aa rhyme scheme then we have got couplet stanzas. While traditional couplets rhyme, not all do. A poem may use white space to mark out couplets if they do not rhyme. Couplets with a meter of iambic pentameter are called heroic couplets. The poetic epigram uses the couplet form. Couplets can also appear in more complex rhyme schemes, for example, the Shakespearean sonnets end with rhyming couplets. The rhyme scheme for couplets is the simplest of all other rhyme schemes in poetry. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is written in rhyming couplets. Alexander Pope wrote in heroic couplets. See examples below:

Experience, though noon auctoritee
Where i this world, is right ynough for me

To speke of wo that is in marriage
For lordines, sith I twelf year was age--

(Chaucer's Canterbury Tales from The wife of Bath's Prologue)

But our Great Turks in wit must reign alone
And ill can bear a Brother on the Throne

Wit is like faith by such warm fools protest
Who is to be saved by one, must damn the rest

(Alexander Pope, Couplets on Wit)

Found not, in lands with all year scorching mix;
Olives reap by beating the trees with sticks.

The olives are crushed for their liquid gold;
Ancient Greek Homer called them so, I'm told.

(From the poem, The Olive Tree)

Pure water fosters health
Health builds blocks to real wealth

Adjectives stop its flow
Waterproof steals its glow

(From the poem, Speaking About Water)

Now let's look at some other traditional rhyme schemes and see how these have influenced the structure of stanzas respectively.

The abcb rhyme scheme has a stanza of four verses. Therefore it is a quatrain. This type of quatrain is popular with songs and nursery rhymes. The 'blackbirds in the pie' nursery rhyme and the 'White House Ballad have this type of rhyme scheme as shown below.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

On the land that Vespucci named
Founding Fathers on it
Built a pretty large White House, and
Those rooms are full of wit.

(From the poem, The White House Ballad)

The aabb rhyme scheme is credited to Edmund Clerihew Bentley and is called the Clerihew. The Clerihew is a pseudo-biographical quatrain with lines of uneven length more or less in the cadence of free verse or open form to be more precise. The Clerihew is characterized with humor that is whimsical rather than satiric. The name of the subject usually occupies the first line. However, way back Geoffrey Chaucer used the aabb rhyme scheme in his Canterbury Tales as shown in The Knight's Tale. The last example also shows the aabb being integrated into a tetrameter quatrain taken from Poetry nest.

Sir Humphey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the Odium
Of having discovered sodium

The Knight's Tale - The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

859 Whilom, as olde stores tellen us,
860 Ther was a duc that highte Theseus:
861 Of Atthenes he was lord and governour,
862 And in his time such a conqueror

The Translation:

859 Once, as old histories tell us,
860 There was a duke who was called Theseus:
861 He was lord of Athens and governor
862 And in his time such a conqueror

From the poem,
Wedding Daze

At the church the rector was there
Dressed, in a robe that was quite dear,
When compared with the bridal veil
She bought, from store within the vale.

The abab rhyme scheme is the most common and is made up of only two rhymes as seen in these examples:

The commoner's streets are not paved with gold;
So the hair comes down in any spotlight.
Top of the line comes from a different mould;
So a faux pas is very impolite.

(From the poem,
The Faux Pas)

My favourite heroes are these in Bim
In this order I dare proclaim to you
Errol Barrow and Sobers full of vim
Adams and the rest I think of them too.

(From the poem,
The Barrow that Built a Nation)

The aaaa rhyme scheme has a monorhyme structure. An example of this rhyme scheme is shown below:

She shines out in the dusk, and lo! the day is here, And all the trees flower forth with blossoms
bright and clear,
The sun from out her brows arises, and the moon, When she unveils her face, cloth hide for shame
and fear.
All living things prostrate themselves before her feet, When she unshrouds and all her hidden charms
And when she flashes forth the lightnings of her glance, She maketh eyes to rain, like showers, with
many a tear.

(Taken from Sir Richard Francis Burton's The Book of the thousand Nights and One Night: Tale of Ox and Donkey)

The abba rhyme scheme with its enclosed rhyme is a favourite of Lord Tennyson. The sample below is taken from his In Memorian

Calm is the morn without a sound,
Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
And only thro’ the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground:

The abcc rhyme scheme is a quatrain ending with a rhyming couplet as shown in the example below:

The Lord, we shall always adore,
But this Knight, take him from the square;
Cart him to a maritime place,
From whence his sails did make swift pace.

(From the poem,

The abbc rhyme scheme blends well with Sapphic Poetry with Adonics. See examples below:

Summer outdoors bring to the fore a vision;
Mother earth gives life to the weak and hefty;
Stop and think, good grief the abuse aplenty;
Tainting forestscape.

(From the poem,
Pinus Attack Not Really)

The aaba rhyme scheme is known as the Rubaiyat quatrain translated by Edward Fitzgerald as shown below:

And much as Wine has played the Infidel
And robbed me of my robe of Honour, well ...
I often wonder what the vintners buy
One half so precious as the stuff they sell

Fitzgerald translated a selection of about one hundred poems originally written in the Persian language of which they are about one thousand attributed to Omar Khayyam, the Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer. Fitzgerald called his translation the Rubaiyat.

The aabc rhyme scheme starts with a rhyming couplet as shown below:

Oval fruits in red attire hang down
All over the country they bring renown
Just like the Christmas tree with pretty balls
That is why they call me their Christmas palm.

(From the poem,
The Christmas Palm)

The aba rhyme scheme creates a stanza of three verses known as the Tercet. When two verses enclose a blank verse it becomes an Enclosed Tercet. See examples below:

Flowers dancing at my window
Blow, fragrant kisses in showers;
Hours on end I watch stems grow.

(From the poem,

From somewhere, out there, in the galaxy
Fraught with megabytes of time, on our hands
We have come with immense expectancy.

(From the poem,

The abb rhyme scheme also creates Tercet stanzas as shown in this nursery rhyme poem,
The Cry of the Birdies:

Ah fluffing, puffing and picking
Out, each other’s nose, eyes this year;
Two birdies fighting in mid-air.

The nursery rhyme is a traditional song or poem taught to young children originally in the nursery. It is written in rhyming verse spice up with a dash of folklore.

The country of my birth was British colony until it became a self-governing nation in 1966, thus becoming a member of the British Commonwealth. This orientation quite naturally accounted for why our nursery rhymes were of European origin and because of the island’s close position to North America the influence of Americanized nursery rhymes were present. Those nursery rhymes taught in primary school stayed with me. When I became a mother in the post colonial era I recalled singing nursery rhymes such as: “Sing a Song of Sixpence”, “Pop Goes the Weasel”, “Ba Ba Black Sheep”, “Jack and Jill”, “Ring a Ring O’ Roses”, “Little Mary had a lamb” and many others. Traditional nursery rhymes are no longer taught in post colonial schools. Kids only know about them, probably from their elders who would have experienced the indoctrination of the colonial era with its pluses and minuses. In the era of colonial rule, nursery rhymes in education were taught because rote learning played a significant role in classroom instruction. The educators at that time firmly believed that this poetic style helped, to a great extent, to develop vocabulary and rudimentary counting skills (e.g. “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”). In addition, specific actions, motion, or dances were often associated with particular nursery rhyme songs.

The aaaaa rhyme scheme creates a monorhyme Quintet. The Quintet is also known as the Quintain, a stanza consisting of five verses. See example below:

On this bough I'll hang around in this heat,
And take lots of pictures for you to greet,
As I savor the moments when we meet;
I can't stop this feeling of so upbeat;
In this dream, we go strolling down the street.

(From the poem,
I write so you know)

The aabbcc rhyme scheme shows a Sexain in couplets. A Sexain is a stanza of six verses. See examples below:

Big Mouth Women like this car;
Doors open wide from afar.
The best they take from the range;
Strange behavior on high wage.
Parked 'neath a woman's tongue tree,
That rattles querulously.

(From the poem,

Yes, we all make choices
Amid hype and noises.
The point is only this
Crackers you will dismiss.
Smile! Smile on Kemp your host
When up he pops the toast.

(From the poem,

The abcddee rhyme scheme in each stanza has shaped the Homostrophic Ode depicted in the poem,
Ode to a Swing Bridge Bulldozed . This poem has ten stanzas. See example below:

With tears in our eyes, they bulldozed you down;
Took some of your parts to Heritage Park;
Vintage now in maritime museum;
Never more will you swing your arms again;
But your glory and honour shall remain;
With new technology you lift your frame;
From dust you rise, thanks to a City Dame

The ababcdecde rhyme scheme is used in the poem,
Ode to the Hibiscus Bush in the stylistic shape of the Horatian Ode. See sample below

The tranquility of valley and hills,
Allows the mind to wander like the clouds,
Above the tree tops with their many thrills,
As nervous leaves rustle in mystic shrouds.
They shadow time each passing day anew,
And patiently wait for the rising sun,
To fill their chlorophyll sacs to the brim;
They thirst for summer rains and morning dew,
To spark their blooms before the day is done,
With Hawaiian pride that glows from each limb.

The abcbdedefgfghh rhyme scheme shaped the Shakespearean style Sonnet entitled,
Sadness. See excerpt below:

Today, I am feeling a little low;
I find it very hard to sleep and rest;
And penned this poem with beats that are slow;
Surely, it is not the amateur's best;
Poems you know do have a unique way,
Of freeing the mind from the enclosed box;
Such creativity is on display;
So one behaves like a crafty old fox.
What sadness do we see on faces here?
He is gone, so too is his shaven face;
Silver buckles no longer shine me dear;
From the earth too at his footsteps and pace;
He parades in the celestial sky;
So he had to say this final goodbye.

The aabbccdd rhyme scheme fits well into this Monody poem,
This Fort. An excerpt is shown below:

He taught me the rules of cricket;
And gave me a season ticket;
To view a field set specific;
His line and length were terrific;
Hopes held high for a Windies win;
I saw leg-before and off-spin;
Now clad indeed with widow's weeds;
My loving mate no longer breathes.

The ababcc rhyme scheme is featured in the poem,
Ode to the Buckeye Tree. This Homostrophic ode has eight stanzas consisting of six verses each, a total of forty-eight verses. See excerpt below:

Legends haunt the buckeye tree so we've got,
One nutty nut in the pocket brings luck;
Killing rheumatism right on the spot;
Where free leaves caught in ground-baked nuts were stuck;
And soapy buckeye tears cured cholera;
During the mid nineteenth Century era.

The abacbc rhyme scheme is featured in the Sexain poem,
Snow on the Mountain. As a matter of fact, the Sexain accommodates any rhyme scheme arrangement. See excerpt below:

Strolling in mum's garden on Christmas morn,
A beautiful sight caught her by surprise;
On her euphorbiaceae not a torn,
But a crown of wee white flowers appears
During a torrid Christmas caught her eyes;
Like snow on the mountain, that name it bears.

The ababcdcdefge rhyme scheme produces stanza of twelve verses. The significance of the punctuation marks can not be overlooked when notice is drawn to the period that marks the end of each quatrain. See excerpt below:

From coral sands this mansion they did make;
It stood in awe above their serfdom realm
To watch laborers burning at the stake;
While absentee landlords held fast the helm.
Their greed and bigotry smugly bestowed
On every highway, cart road and marl hole;
Their champagne bottles loudly did explode;
Folks prayed that better years for all would roll.
Yes, Divine changed your name to Erdiston;
So that blooms of knowledge would reign supreme;
Changing minds and dreams to reality;
On your sixty-foot frame, good deeds are done.

(From the poem,
Ode to Erdiston)

The ababcdecde rhyme scheme shapes this beautiful poem entitled,
Ode to the Magnolia Tree. See excerpt below:

Sweet Magnolia your inanimate eyes
See me, outside window daily watching
You, as you do your innate exercise
Amid the changing winds ever blowing;
You cast your verdant raiment without fear
To fall, like a ball in the opened hands
Of compost, cheered-on by the green posse;
He loathes your body's naked "wear and tear";
Your beauty sleep is all your head commands
When, heatless sun smiles with awesome mercy.

Then of course, we have what are known as specialized rhyme schemes associated with these poetic forms: the ghazal, jingle, limerick, pantoum, paradelle, sestina, triolet and the villanelle. So let’s explore them.

The aabbb aaBBB aaBBB aaBBB aaBBB rhyme scheme tells us much about the arrangement of the poem. First and foremost, the poem is a quintet with a string of repeated rhymes taken from the first stanza as shown in the capitalized letters and easily falls into the category of the jingle with trimeter verses as shown in the excerpt below:

Great chicks are in the nest
With heads, chest, legs and breast
Come in friends, says the wren
Click-cluck-click, sings the hen
Poesy quills fill the pen.

Fresh whole eggs pass the test
You select and are blessed
Come in friends, says the wren
Click-cluck-click, sings the hen
Poesy quills fill the pen.

(From the poem, The Nest)

Further analysis of this rhyme scheme shows that the repeated rhymes are couched in tercet verses which follow behind the couplet; effectively combining the couplet with the tercet into quintet stanzas.

The jingle is usually unbridled with pleasant sounding verses. Such verses flow with catch words and phrases with lots of rhymes and rhythm that, somehow stay in the mind for a very long time. The jingle has become a viable advertising tool. Its rhythm is captivating as a result of the alliterative nature of the sounds. Most people tend to label the jingle as nonsensical but it really does drive the commercial advertising in a sort of hypnotic way. Just think about the many jingles you hear, so there must be some profitable means involved for all. You would agree that there is a massive explosion of poetry in advertising.

The aA bA cA dA eA fA rhyme scheme is associated with the poetic form known as the ghazal. This rhyme scheme shows that the six stanzas are made from couplets. See excepts below:

I received a letter from Glee;
I think of things to bring me glee.

So sad that she has no home now;
They moved to the country with glee.

(From the poem,
Just Memories)

I hate it when her wit goes out;
From here, I must attempt to flee.

Pam took her bags from Texas ranch;
In heat, from him, Pam had to flee.

(From the poem, Alone Again)

The ghazal is a poem of five to fifteen couplets. It is made up of a short monorhyme. The first two lines rhyme with a repeated rhyme in the second of each succeeding couplet. The ghazal usually deals with themes of love in a melancholy mood.

According to Agha Shahid Ali, the ghazal expert who practised his poetic craft in USA universities before his death in 2001 proffered these basic points when crafting a ghazal:

Create no enjambments between couplets

Couplets are linked by a strict formal scheme

The entire ghazal employs the rhyme and refrain

The refrain may be a word or a phrase

Each line must be of the same length inclusive of the rhyme and refrain (metrical or syllabic – the key to maintain consistency in length)

The last couplet may be (usually is) a signature couplet in which the poet may evoke his/her name in the first, second or third person

The scheme of rhyme and refrain occurs in both lines of the first couplet (that is how one learns what the scheme is) and then in only the second line of every succeeding couplet (that is, the first line of every succeeding couplet has no restrictions other than to maintain the syllabic or metrical length

Check to see that there is an epigrammatic terseness in the ghazal, but with immense lyricism, evocation, sorrow, heartbreak, wit

What defines the ghazal is a constant longing

The aabba rhyme scheme is designed for the limerick. Now, who said that you have to be Irish and live in the town of Limerick or be inebriated in order to write good limericks? If you know how to pull a punch line, make a pun and create rhythm and rhyme then go for it. As you write your limerick make sure that you make it with a stanza of five anapaestic verses. Don’t worry too much if the verses are not exclusively anapaestic because the amphibrach has three syllables and is widely considered as an anapaest. Therefore, an amphibrach is accepted as an anapaestic foot. The anapaest has two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable. It is also referred to as the antidactylus. The dactyl has one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables at the end of words. Here are some examples:

(condition ) con di tion u / u
(infected) in fec ted u / u

(when the heart) when the heart u u /
(annalist) an na list u u /

(daffodils) daf fo dils / u u
(poetry) po e try / u u

When creating the limerick, make sure you have the following:

One couplet and one triplet within a rhyme scheme aabba
Made the first, second and fifth verses 3 metrical feet
Made the third and fourth verses 2 metrical feet
A pun to create the punch line in the fifth verse to heighten the laughter

Now examine the limerick below and judge whether it has met the above criteria

A little young woman in the heat
She would hurriedly eat on the beat
With Nicole on a break
From a goad while that snake
Looping her there only two feet

(From the limerick poem, She Asks)

Limericks often contain hyperbole, onomatopoeia, idioms, and other figurative devices. Here is another example of a limerick shown below:

It is often than not in the mind
For he thinks it is often unkind
When the heart is jealous
And so very callous
He then thinks of the lover's behind

(From the limerick poem, Laugh it Off)

The a1b1a1b1 B2c2B2c C3d3C3d3 D4e4D4e4 E5f5E5f5 F6g6F6g6 G7h7G7h7 H8i8H8i8 I9A9I9A9 rhyme scheme is associated with the pantoum poem. It is not as complicated as it looks. The capital letters indicate the repeated verses and rhymes and the numbers signify the stanzas where they are located. So as you can see the rhyme scheme indicated a pantoum poem with nine stanzas made of quatrains respectively. So this we do know that:

The pantoum is a fixed form consisting of quatrains of varying verse length. The second and fourth verses of stanzas are repeated to form the first and third lines of the succeeding stanza. The first and third verses of the first stanza form the second and fourth of the last stanza, but in reverse order. The opening and closing verses of the poem are identical. However, there are no restrictions as to the number of stanzas for a pantoum poem. Below are some excerpts taken from the pantoum poems:

On account of these marauding bush tail rats;
The environment we must protect from this ragtag lot;
So very fat, they look like tabby cats;
They need to be dealt with on the spot.

The environment we must protect from this ragtag lot;
Because of their sticky underwear that really clings
They need to be dealt with on the spot;
We say, make their pelts into all sorts of things

Because of their sticky underwear that really clings;
On willows and polar outerwear;
We say, make their pelts into all sorts of things
That possums’ wear

(From the pantoum poem, That Possums' Wear)

This a1b1a1b1 B2c2B2c2 C3d3C3d3 D4e4D4e4 E5f5E5f5 F6g6F6g6 G7h7G7h7 H8A8H8A8 rhyme scheme indicates that the pantoum poem, has eight stanzas. An excerpt is shown below:

Tsunami is only nodding in a water-bed, this creep
After its Yuletide feast
This beast, fakes that it is asleep
In the deep ocean in the east;

After its Yuletide feast
Drunk with human gore
In the deep ocean in the east
And drenched in water and much more

(From the pantoum poem, The Asian Tsunami of 2004)

The pantoum form is credited to Victor-Marie Hugo, the French poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, visual artist, statesman and human rights campaigner. He was born on February 26, 1802 in Besancon, France. He died on May 22, 1885. His pantoum form depicted here is the western version of the original Malaysian form, “Pantun”.

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