Rhyme, the deployment of words with matching sounds, is a useful and popular device in poetry. So popular in fact, that there are people who feel that poems must rhyme. People who hold this view are invariably thinking of masculine end rhymes in a set pattern. However, there is far more to rhyme than this. It is essential to experiment with different ways of making music with words to master your craft. Ruth Padel articulates a truth in The Poem and the Journey:1 The poets job is to get syllables to belong to each other so ear and mind are satisfied; so that readers, even if they dont understand at once, can trust the words and feel they belong together musically and emotionally, and feel that meaning will flower from their relationships. Rhyme is one tool in the poets grasp for accomplishing this task and those who take the trouble to learn skills beyond hammering masculine end rhymes into place (although they do have their uses) can extend their work so that it rhymes in more subtle ways. The practice of making unnatural inversions to accommodate rhyme is a serious error made by proponents of rhyming at any cost. Poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost, Carol Ann Duffy and many others are examples of using the tool of rhyme effectively to delight the reader and build confidence in the music of the poem.
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