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Jan's Master Class--RHYME

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Jan's Master Class--RHYME

Postby glorybee » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:04 pm

You all know what rhymes are—words that have the same ending sounds. We start teaching rhymes when our children are very young, and for most of us rhyming is a pretty basic concept. This is going to be a fairly short class, therefore. I’m not going to teach you about bat, fat, cat…you don’t need it. Lessons on rhyme scheme and slant rhyme will come shortly.

What I will do is to suggest a few ways of rhyming that might not have occurred to you, and to implore you to re-think some of your current rhyming practices.

Regrettably, many amateur poets rarely get beyond the bat, fat, cat mode of rhyming. I was doing some research for something later on in this lesson, and I came across an interesting bit of information: about 99% of rhymed poetry is rejected by publishers of poetry. This is because a) the current state of literary poetry calls for free verse, and b) most rhymed poetry just isn’t sophisticated enough.

I checked through some back weeks of the Weekly Challenge. It only took me a few minutes to find 8 poems that rhymed love and above, a particularly tempting rhyme for Christian poets, but way overdone. And a substantial majority of the other rhymes I encountered were exact, 1-syllable rhymes.

Think about these alternatives to “fat/cat” syndrome:

1. Rhyme a 2-syllable word with two 1-syllable words. In a recent “class”, someone posted a witty little quatrain that rhymed diet with try it. Clever. For this (and for my other tips) RhymeZone.com is a great resource. It will suggest words of 1, 2, 3, or more syllables for the word that you input. Play around with that, and don't always feel that rhymes must be one word-to-one word.

2. Rhyme words of more than one syllable with each other. I once wrote a little limerick for a college class in which the rhyme for lines 3 and 4 was the words gazebo and placebo, and another little poem that used Glasgow, fiasco, and Tabasco.

3. An extension of point #2: rhyme interesting words. In fact, your rhymes should be the most interesting words in each line, to counteract that “predictability” factor. If I’m reading a rhymed poem about a cute little kid, and I come across a line that ends with joy, I’m pretty sure that the next line is going to end with boy. Won’t I be delighted, then, when instead the line ends with destroy?

4. As much as it kills you, consider an inexact rhyme. I’ll be writing about that in more detail in a few weeks…so just let the concept of imperfect rhymes simmer on the back burner for a while.

A huge rhyming no-no is the forced rhyme. That’s a rhyme put into a poem solely for the purpose of rhyming a word already there, or a rhyme that only works after a bit of mangling of English syntax. Do any of you remember folk-rock band The Turtles? If you do, you’ll remember their song “Happy Together” from the mid-60s. Yeah, I know, I’m dating myself. Anyway…the refrain had this little bit of rhyme:

So happy together
How is the weather


Now that song was a huge hit, and I loved it, but even as a very pedantic young teen, I remember thinking that it was a ridiculous lyric. What did the weather have to do with anything? Nothing—it was only there to rhyme with together. (Hee-hee—now you have that song in your head, don’t you?)

Another common way of forcing a rhyme involves using the helping verbs did or does with another verb, just to make an exact rhyme (and sometimes also to make the meter work). Let me see if I can come up with an example on my own….I’ll use a variation of last week’s couplet.

My wand’rings took me far from home
Far from my Savior I did roam

No one talks like that—the “did” is just in there to give the 2nd line of the couplet that needed syllable, and to make the exact rhyme of home and roam. But that’s exactly the sort of thing that publishers of poetry hate. It’s true that the syntax of poetry is often different from that of prose, and that good poets from the past have often altered the syntax of sentences to make a line “work”. It’s certainly allowable—occasionally—but knowing how to do it right is absolutely an advanced poetic skill.

This is something I’ve touched on just about every time I’ve done a class that’s purely poetry-related: when I’m wearing my judge’s hat, and I come across a rhymed poem, I look for far more than just rhymes. I look for poetic sophistication, which includes:

~high-quality, unpredictable and unforced rhymes
~consistency of meter, especially in a fresh, original pattern
~poetic “goodies”: metaphor, imagery, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.

Homework: write a bit of poetry that contains some great rhyming. A rhymed couplet or a quatrain will be fine.

OR respond to something I’ve written about in this class.

OR give us your thoughts on the use of rhyme in your work or in that of a favorite poet of yours.


IF you do one of the above, you may link to a poem of yours that demonstrates something from this week’s lesson.

I’m working on assembling the back lessons of this class, to be made available either in print form or as a download for those who want them. I’ve now recovered all but two lessons—allegory and conflict (which was pretty well covered in all of those “Man vs. ______” classes, anyway). Not too bad! I’ll keep you posted on when those will be available—quite soon, I think.

Next week—Rhyme scheme
Jan Ackerson

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Postby GShuler » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:32 am

This isn't the best I've done, but the message is worth submitting.


Think of Your Loved Ones

Oh, if ever the world should tremble and quake
the hour has now come. We live in the wake
of events foretold ages ago
leadiing some to glory, others to woe.

The saints headed for glory must understand
the urgent request, the Holy demand
to reach the lost souls before it's too late.
Call a loved one today; don't hesitate.
[/u]

I want to link to one of my general submission poems for a simple reason. In this poem I was trying to learn the pantoum style but I totally misunderstood the guidelines. I thought I just needed to repeat the last word of each line... not the entire line. So this poem is made entirely of six repeated rhyming words. I just wondered if it lost effect because it is so limited and NOT a true pantoum.

Master of the Wind
http://www.faithwriters.com/article-det ... p?id=77751
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:47 am

Thanks, Gerald--definitely an important message!

Poetically speaking, I really like your use of 2- and 3- syllable words to rhyme, and also of interesting words like "quake" and "woe".
Jan Ackerson

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Postby hwnj » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:32 am

This is a snipet from a poem I wrote for the scrap book being prepared for our pastor and his wife who are shifting from pastoral ministry in to missions. I know that it will be a couple of weeks until slant rhyme, but I guess, technically, "united" and "divided" aren't precise rhymes.

Always united
Never divided
Divinely guided

A one-syllable rhyme with which I was particularly pleased recently involved "live" and "sieve."
I think that it is important to keep in mind that rhyming words will not always have the same ending letters. For instance, the word "eyes" may be paired with an abundant variety of words ending in "ys," "ise," "ies," "ize," and probably others I haven't listed.
Conversely, not all words that do have the same letters at the end rhyme, which is the source of many common slant rhymes, such as "Lord" and "word."
Then there are words for which the context must determine the needed rhyme. "Live" could be matched with "give" or "hive," depending on whether the long or short "I" sound is in play.

Speaking of words not commonly used in everyday speech, I recently use "lest" to fit my meter.

I have often had to find a synonym for which I could find a rhyme, in place of some word for which I was unable to come up with a suitable, unforced one.

Now, Miss Jan, I am going to be an ornery student once more. Utilizing that wonderful resource you mentioned, I find that there are precisely twelve unique words which rhyme with "love." The other 76 possibilities that RhymeZone lists on the initial search are phrases, most of which end in "of."
dove,
glove,
gov, (now that would be an interesting poem)
of,
shove
above,
belove,
deneuve, (huh? Even RhymeZone has no definition when you click the link!)
labove, (a surname)
o'glove, (huh? Even RhymeZone has no definition when you click the link!)
thereof, and
vanhove (a surname)
So for all practical purposes, there are seven words which rhyme with "love!" I submit, (and advise myself,) that we are all better off to compile a list of synonyms for "love" and their rhymes, than to use it directly, at least at the end of lines.

So, without delay,
Have a nice day!
Holly

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"In order to realize the worth of the anchor, one needs to feel the stress of the storm." Daily Encouragement Net (Stephen & Brooksyne Weber)

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Postby Symphonic » Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:22 am

Ever since I learned to play the piano, I’ve enjoyed writing songs... and songs, inevitably, have lyrics–rhyming lyrics. I still write “theme songs” for my novels sometimes (and yes, I realize how corny that sounds!). I usually have some idea of the words in my head, but these days I only write down the music.

It’s incredibly hard to write rhyming poetry and avoid the pitfalls you mention. My own past efforts confirm this! For example... even worse than rhyming “love” with “above” is to rhyme it with “of.” This requires some real contortions:

Imagine a place that’s just made for you,
A castle of dreams made of love;
A boy that will make you the queen of his life,
The thing you’ve been long dreaming of.


Fortunately, I was just 14 when I wrote that... a minor in the eyes of the law, and too young to be tried for abuse of the English language.

There are many poems that I love, and some that move me in ways I can’t adequately describe. One of these is John Dryden’s “Song for St. Cecilia’s Day,” which concludes:

As from the pow’r of sacred Lays
The Spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator’s praise
To all the bless’d above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling Pageant shall devour,
The Trumpet shall be heard on high,
The Dead shall live, the Living die,
And Music shall untune the Sky.


The rhymes aren’t that remarkable: “high,” “die” and “Sky;” “hour” and “devour;” “Lays” and “praise.” As for “move” and “above”... well, maybe those actually rhymed in 17th/18th century Britain. But the image in the last line is so powerful...

Another of my favorites is “Abt Vogler” by Robert Browning. Here’s an excerpt:

All that we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good, shall exist;
Not its semblance, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power
Whose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the melodist
When eternity confirms the conception of an hour.
The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;
Enough that He heard it once; we shall hear it by and by.


Rhyming “exist” with “melodist” is unusual, but the other rhymes are rather ordinary. One would expect “power” to rhyme with “hour” and “sky” to rhyme with “by”–but Browning uses these ordinary rhymes to say something profound.

William Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality” includes examples of inexact rhymes and rhymes with different numbers of syllables:

As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.

***

O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!


But many of the poems I love use rather common rhymes. It’s the way those rhymes are used that makes them memorable. Poets like Dryden, Browning and Wordsworth could probably rhyme “fat” with “cat” or “love” with “above,” and create profoundly beautiful poetry. For the rest of us... well, to paraphrase the caption on the car commercials: “Professional poet at work. Do not attempt!”

Carol S.

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:20 pm

I have often had to find a synonym for which I could find a rhyme, in place of some word for which I was unable to come up with a suitable, unforced one.


Perfect! That's exactly what I was getting at, but you wrote it so much more succinctly. Incidentally, that's another helpful feature of RhymeZone--in addition to rhymes, they also provide synonyms. So if "walk" isn't working for you, you can find any number of synonyms there that are likely to be more interesting words, and perhaps more rhyme-able, too.

I also appreciated your take on rhyming "love." It wasn't ornery at all, Holly! Rather, it was a great way to encourage poets to use synonyms, rather than old, cliched rhymes.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:25 pm

Carol--beautiful, beautiful poems, and I so much appreciate your clarification and slant on my lesson. You're absolutely right--a GREAT poem can have very simple rhymes. It can have, in fact, anything it wants, because it was written by a great poet, someone who really knows what he's doing!

For the rest of us, examining our rhyming practices is just one thing we can do to become better poets. Not EVERY rhyme has to be fancy. But I'd rethink a poem if EVERY rhyme was simple, AND there were no other poetic devices anywhere to be found.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Verna » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:26 pm

An apple for the teacher...

She's always correct semantically,
Occasionally pedantically.
Still yet when all is said and done,
She's B.O.B. Jan Ackerson.
Verna

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Proverb 17:22

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:28 pm

I love it, Verna! I'd like that cross-stitched on a pillow.

Very clever poem, and a great homework assignment. You get the gold star this week.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Verna » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:38 pm

Jan, I love the challenges you provide to get the brain juices flowing, and it's been some decades since I've had a gold star!
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

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Postby jodiebanner » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:47 pm

I finally finished this one, it only took me since last June. But I think it fits the lesson.

http://www.faithwriters.com/article-det ... p?id=92624
<i>"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"</i> Psalm 107:1

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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:51 pm

Lovely, Jodie!

I really liked your unusual combinations like windburned/churned and barbecues/hues.

And as I sit here in Michigan's bitter cold, your poem REALLY made me long for June!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby eireann » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:29 pm

You mean...you mean that my poem could be even better??? Ok, so here's my brilliant poem:

My lessons I have not done
Bad have I been
Unhelpful was my muse
So my poem is sight unseen

and here's how it works after changing it according to your "rules."

I haven't done my lessons
I've been so very bad
My muse was not so helpful
Nor was eating mackerel shad

Titter. I stun myself... :mrgreen:

I will say though, (being serious now) I've found that if I write the punch lines of the verses first, then it's much easier to write the first parts. If I go back to rhymezone and look at all the words that rhyme with bad, then I can think of a good line like
such was the deadbeat dad.

So then I think of what makes up a deadbeat dad--never there, saying he'll come when he doesn't, forgetting birthdays, etc. and do the rest, I can come up with something like this:

I waited on my birthdays (now I look for a word that rhymes with dad)
for him to call or add
me to his busy schedule
--my silent deadbeat dad.

Ok, so it's not all that great on the fly, but hopefully you get the idea.
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Postby glorybee » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:38 pm

I will say though, (being serious now) I've found that if I write the punch lines of the verses first, then it's much easier to write the first parts. If I go back to rhymezone and look at all the words that rhyme with bad, then I can think of a good line like
such was the deadbeat dad.


Excellent bit of advice!

*mutters, 'mackerel shad'...*
Jan Ackerson

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Postby swfdoc1 » Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:00 pm

I don't have anything to link to this week, since my incredible rhymes of orange, silver and kiosk went into the FW black hole. :wink: Also, no time to write something new since I am struggling to come up with something for Australia for this week's Challenge.

However, I thought I'd just add a couple of thoughts.

1) Not only can rhymes be really bad, so can inexact rhymes:

Anybody remember the Steve Miller Band song, Take the Money and Run form 1976?

How about this stinker?

Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes

As for "above" and "move" that Carol noted in the Dryden poem, that is called a sight rhyme (which is a misnomer, since there is no rhyme). A sight rhyme is tow words that look like they rhyme, but don’t.
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things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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